Saturday, May 08, 2021
Herriman Saturday - February 2 1910
February 2 1910 -- The Postmaster General has seen fit to make a pronouncement that rural mailfolk are not to engage in hunting or fishing while making their rounds. Presumably same goes for city carriers, one hopes.
If like me you are more accustomed to using the term "nimrod" to refer to various members of government and of some persons of doubtful intelligence in personal acquaintance, a reminder that in Genesis, some guy with that name was known as a great hunter, thereby the headline. Of course, once Bugs Bunny started calling Elmer Fudd a nimrod, so much for the original definition.
Labels: Herriman's LA Examiner Cartoons
Friday, May 07, 2021
Obscurity of the Day: Surgeon Stone
Surgeon Stone is an obscurity that's a devil to track down. After starting out innocently enough as part of a whole slew of new Chicago Tribune Sunday strips that began like a machine gun blast in 1946, the Trib gave up on it pretty quickly. Wild Rose, John West, the revival of Streamer Kelly and other new additions for 1946 continued appearing in the Trib for a relatively long time, despite attracting practically no syndication clients. Surgeon Stone, on the other hand, arrived there on April 7 1946, and last appeared on March 2 1947 (the top and bottom samples above).
That all seems pretty cut and dried, except that on really rare occasions I've seen later ones, and I've even seen original art for examples as late as 1950. Which seems rather weird, except that it meshes rather nicely with the fact that the Tribune advertised the strip as available as late as 1951 in the Editor & Publisher Syndicate Directories.
So what gives? Assuming I haven't managed to miss a bunch of syndication clients for Surgeon Stone, why in the world would they have been producing it that long? If they wanted it for the Trib itself, that would be one thing, but even they didn't want it!
Finally I stumbled across the answer. Unfortunately this answer, as weird as it is, sure doesn't make me feel like I've solved a mystery -- just found another one. In the Chicago Tribune of October 4 1948, there is an offhand remark that Surgeon Stone was in fact still being run in Tribune, but only in the Canadian edition!
Heck, I didn't even know there was such a thing. And given that there was, what was it about Surgeon Stone that makes it worthy of being produced and printed only for an obscure edition of the newspaper? Sigh. There's just no end once you go down some of these rabbit holes.
Just in case you're thinking that the strip must star a Mountie or be set in the Northwest Territories, or at least have a lot of 'eh's in the dialogue, nah, forget that angle. Surgeon Stone is about a plastic surgeon, and there's no Canadian content that I can pinpoint. The strip, though rather repetitive with the hero getting mixed up with thieves over and over, is actually kinda cool. It has a great hardboiled film noir-ish feel to it, and the art by Richard Fletcher (the ChiTrib Rick Fletcher who also did Jed Cooper, not the one who took over Dick Tracy) gets better and better as the series goes on. By 1947 Fletcher has figured out a bold colour scheme for the strip, and employs great dramatic camera angles to make the strip really pop off the page. Good stuff, and deserved better treatment than it got from the Tribune.
Anyway, if anyone has access to this nigh-mythical Canadian Edition of the Chicago Tribune, if you could find me an end date for Surgeon Stone I'd be very grateful.
I didn't know there was a Canadian edition either, but maybe there were many odd iterations. Ever see their RAG PAPER EDITION? you don't want that one's Sunday comic section. It had more bleed-through than an abattoir!
Apparently the mail editions had some different features than the daily delivery or news stand versions. But perchance some editions of the Canadian version can be located, it would likely show that the Surgeon Stone strip displaces some strip that might have some special syndication arrangement North of the border.
Surgeon Stone was a Sunday only strip. You must be thinking of another sawbones -- Doctor Bobbs maybe?
I checked the online archives of the Trib and I find no Sunday-style comics in a few spot-checked Saturday editions. Of course that doesn't mean it definitely didn't run on Saturday, since the microfilmer may not have bothered to include them, or the bound volumes were missing them. Anyone ever seen a Saturday ChiTrib edition with Sunday comics?
Wednesday, May 05, 2021
Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Walter Frehm
Mr. and Mrs. Walter Frehm, whose wedding took place Thanksgiving Day at a quiet ceremony at the Hotel Sharon in New York, are on their honeymoon in the South. The Rev. Dr. David Hollander solemnized the marriage nuptials at 2 P. M.The bride, who was Miss Estelle Stern, daughter of Emil Stern of 192 Hawthorne Avenue, wore a silver lame gown and a corsage of orchids.Her attendants were Miss Jeannette Stern, her sister, and Mrs. Benjamin Zimmet. Miss Stern was in rose lame and Mrs. Zimmet in black velvet. Both wore corsages of white roses.Paul Frehm, a brother of the bridegroom, was best man.Mrs. Frehm was graduated from Yonkers High School and New York University. Mr. Frehm, a graduate of Pratt Institute, is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Morris Frehm of 274 Hawthorne Avenue.
Frehm’s first real encounter with Ripley was during World War II when Ripley telephoned him with the offer of a job. Frehm, however, turned down the job because he was more concerned with completing the work he was doing for the war effort. [In Suburbia Today, July 19, 1981, an article about Ripley’s Believe It or Not said Frehm was “drawing up blueprints for the bombers being built at the General Motors plant in North Tarrytown.]It was in 1958 when Frehm’s older brother, Paul, a veteran illustrator with King Features (the copyright holder for the strip), called Walter to propose that they both draw “Ripley’s Believe or Not!” Paul had been drawing the strip with various other artists since Ripley’s death in 1949. [Suburbia Today said “… the younger Frehm was merely an assistant. Paul did the main panels—the “shockers”—while Walter did the lettering and drew the minor panels ….”]For the next 20 years, the brothers faced the monumental task each week of producing at least 21 new drawings—each a new and original item in the Ripley collection of oddities. Their drawings remained faithful to the style originally created by Ripley.Since Paul’s retirement in 1978, Walter has been drawing all the strips. “We get our items from all kinds of sources and from all over the world,” said Walter. “In fact, we have a regular list of contributors.”
Labels: Ink-Slinger Profiles
Monday, May 03, 2021
Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Paul Frehm
Born in Bklyn.—Yonkers H.S. to Pratt I.—Staff artist on N.Y. American–layout & illustration. Transferred to Mirror—then to King Features—top assignment with Damon Runyon covering trial of Bruno Hauptman [sic], kidnapper of Lindberg [sic] baby.—More feature stories and trials then art supervisor of commercial advt for King. Art for Camel cig., Bendix, Goodyear–etc. I helped Bob Ripley when his schedule got rough—when he died I was chosen to carry on feature. 21 yrs now & still gig strong. During war–U.S.O. cartoonist shows sketching the wounded.—Married to Mildred Spector–one son, Andrew, graduated U.S.C.—now with Universal Studios.
... With Ripley gone, the task of feeding illustrations to “Believe It or Not” fell to Paul Frehm—the older brother of the Frehm whom Ripley once offered a job. Paul was an established cartoonist in the King Features stable; it was he, in fact, who got Walter Frehm interested in cartooning in the first place. And it was Paul, in 1958, who succeeded where Ripley failed: in convincing Walter to help with the endless task of turning out “Believe It or Not.”Paul had established that the Ripley-less “Believe It or Not” would resemble Ripley’s original as much as possible. Ripley’s name remained on the strip; there would be no tampering with success. So when Walter was hired, he learned to adapt his style to match Ripley’s bold, melodramatic pen strokes.At first, the younger Frehm was merely an assistant. Paul did the main panels—the “shockers”—while Walter did the lettering and drew the minor panels—the Texas-shaped birthmarks, the one-armed trapeze artists and the like. ...
Labels: Ink-Slinger Profiles
Sunday, May 02, 2021
Wish You Were Here, from a Bud Fisher Emulator
Here's another 1909 licensed card of Mutt and Jeff, this one featuring just Mutt in a nice faux photograph pose. Mark Johnson has described how cards like this came about in the comments of this previous post.
Labels: Wish You Were Here