Saturday, January 23, 2021


Wish You Were Here, from Cobb Shinn


Here's a Cobb Shinn postcard, postally dated 1913, from an unknown maker. Shinn's postcard work is generally crude like this (though I like the framing), but he produced bajillions of them.


Hello Allan-
Yes, this is pretty poor. I always find it interesting that in an age that produced such high quality painting, sculpture and architecture and most magazine and advertising art seemed absolutely indifferent to further down mass culture graphic art in things like post cards and comics.
The great and the incompetent were side by side, without any problem. Publishers printed them, and people bought them.
The more times I read this caption the less I understand it. "I can't believe that I'm seeing you?" "I can't believe the way you look?" "When I look at you I doubt myself?" And why is the righthand figure crying? Which character is speaking, anyway? In the words of Superman, "Wha--?"
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Friday, January 22, 2021


Magazine Cover Comics: Dimples' Day Dreams


Here's one of Nell Brinkley's magazine cover series, this one under the King Features brand. Dimples' Day Dreams ran from March 4 to May 20 1928.


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Wednesday, January 20, 2021


Obscurity of the Day: The Troubles of Dictionary Jaques


Ed Carey managed to escape from McClure Syndicate around 1909, finding some takers for his wares in the higher-class precincts on the New York World and Evening Telegram. But for whatever reason, by late 1912 he returned to the fold as one of McClure's headliners. Being a headliner can be nice, but McClure at this time, struggling to find a market for the now out of fashion boilerplate Sundays, made him a big fish in a very small pond. 

Carey decided not to bring back Simon Simple, his old McClure standby, but instead a new creation, The Troubles of Dictionary Jaques. However, the new strip is pretty much just Simon Simple with a French accent. Jaques (yes, he consistent spelled the name that way, not Jacques) adds on the additional conceit of trying to learn the ins and outs of English by misinterpreting dictionary definitions. 

Carey still offers superb art, but the strip just doesn't seem to have the energy of his earlier efforts. It's no wonder, then, that the strip was retired after less than six months. It ran from November 3 1912 to April 20 1913*. Carey then runs under my radar until mid-1914, when he returned to McClure for another go-round.

* Source: San Francisco Chronicle


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Monday, January 18, 2021


Obscurity of the Day: Comic Page Circus


I seldom consider unsigned features as worthy of being included in my Stripper's Guide listings, but this one caught my fancy. Comic Page Circus was never signed or bylined, and was never dignified by a listing in the E&P syndicate yearbook. It was a little filler feature, two columns wide and very skinny, as you can see. It assigned about half of it's daily appearances to gags told by a pair of clowns, and the other half to very simple profiles of various animals. 

The feature was produced by Cleveland's Central Press Association. I know the artists who were in their cartooning bullpen, but the highly simplified art of Comic Page Circus resists my meager art-spotting prowess. If you put a gun to my head I might take a stab with Joe King, who was known to like drawing clowns. Only problem is he was at NEA at this time (also based in Cleveland), but who's to say he wouldn't moonlight on such a simple and safely anonymous job.

Comic Page Circus began on August 29 1932*. A year later, on August 28 1933*, the title of the series was changed to Midget Museum. This signalled a change of focus, as the writers were undoubtedly running out of animals to profile. Under the new title the gates were thrown open to profiles of just about anything that happened to show up on a random opening of the encyclopedia. The clowns were retired, and a new running character, Professor Nozitall, was sometimes used as presenter of odd and unusual factoids. The feature was finally retired on December 15 1934**, perhaps having exhausted itself for subject matter.

* Source: Mason City Globe-Gazette

** Source: St. Joseph Herald-Press


I believe these are by Lee Stanley, they appear to be filler items that Central Press would put out on the edges of their proof sheets that stocked the page up, wether many papers used them or not. (they were full newspaper page sized) A page of "Etta Kett" for instance, could have a few "Noah Numbskull" panels to fill the blank space, or "Sally's Sallies" might accompany "Muggs McGinnis". Also could be seen were other one-panel things like stamp collecting news or word puzzles, all up to the client to use or not, since they used the NEA system as a model- you pay one fee for the use of any and all of the syndicate's weekly offerings.
Lee Stanley is a good guess given he was a real anchorman at CPA. Those clowns, though, they keep whispering Joe King to me...

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