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.


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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.


Hello Allan-
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.
I LOVE the rag paper edition -- so unusual to see old Sunday comics on nice bright white paper. But yes, there is the tradeoff of bad quality printing -- usually quite faint, too.

Until now I'd seen only a couple of dailies from this strip--early ones, I presume. I wasn't impressed. Fletcher's perspective was whacky and the layouts were awkward. These samples raise my opinion of the strip 300%. Very atmospheric drawing with great coloring.
Smurfswacker --
Surgeon Stone was a Sunday only strip. You must be thinking of another sawbones -- Doctor Bobbs maybe?

Allan I have a lot of material from Fletcher's estate including at one point piles of Chicago Tribunes he appeared in. At one point the Trib moved Surgeon Stone and John west Sunday pages (and for while Mighty O'Malley to the back page of I think the Saturday edition where the Sunday pages were run in black and white! Until the strips ended- George Hagenauer
Hi George --
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?
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Wednesday, May 05, 2021


Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Walter Frehm

Walter Frehm was born Walter Friedman on March 11, 1912, in Manhattan, New York, New York, according to the New York, New York Birth Index at 

In the 1915 New York state census, Frehm was the youngest of four brothers (Solomon, Paul and Herbert) born to Morris and Ethel, both Hungarian emigrants. The family of six resided in Manhattan at 19 West 118th Street. Frehm’s father was an ice cream salesman. 

On December 24, 1917 Herbert passed away in Yonkers, New York. 

In the 1920 census, Frehm was “Walter Friedman”. Leonard was the youngest brother. Frehm’s parents were naturalized citizens in 1900. The family lived in Yonkers, New York at 8 Fernbrook Street. 

The 1925 New York State Census recorded seven people as Yonkers residents at 209 Buena Vista Avenue. Solomon’s wife was part of the household. 

According to the 1930 census, the Frehm family consisted of five members: Frehm, his parents, Leonard and Paul who was a commercial artist. Their home was in Yonkers at 288 Hawthorne Avenue.

In the early 1930s, Frehm followed Paul’s footsteps and attended Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. At first he studied illustration then switched to cartooning. 

The Herald Statesman (Yonkers, New York), December 11, 1936, published a legal notice stating Frehm and his brothers, Paul and Leonard, had changed their surname from Friedman to Frehm. Leonard would find work at Fleischer Studios. 

The Herald Statesman, November 26, 1938, reported Frehm’s marriage.
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.
The 1940 census recorded the couple in Yonkers at 199 Hawthorne Avenue. The head of the household was Frehm’s father-in-law, a widower. Also residing there was Frehm’s sister-in-law Jeannette. 

On October 16, 1940 Frehm signed his World War II draft card. His address was 80 Bruce Avenue in Yonkers. Frehm said his employer was cartoonist Ken Kling who lived at 300 Central Park West, New York City. Frehm’s description was five feet eight inches, 150 pounds, with hazel eyes and brown hair. 

Frehm’s National Cartoonists Society profile said he assisted Will Gould on Red Barry and later ghosted Kling’s Joe and Asbestos. Who’s Who of American Comic Books 1928–1999 said he did a small amount comic book work. The Green Mask appeared in Mystery Men Comics. American Newspaper Comics (2012) said the Fox Feature Syndicate distributed The Green Mask as a Sunday strip (two comic book pages, side by side, occupied a half page), from February 7 to August 11, 1940. 

In 1958 Frehm joined King Features. The Herald-Journal (Spartanburg, South Carolina), October 17, 1982, profiled Frehm, on page eight, and said he was offered Ripley’s Believe It or Not
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.”
In 1989 Frehm retired from the strip which was continued by others.

Frehm passed away on June 2, 1995, in Boca Raton, Florida. The Sun Sentinel published an obituary on June 9. 


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Monday, May 03, 2021


Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Paul Frehm

National Cartoonists Society 1970

Paul Frehm was born on November 1, 1904 or 1905, in Brooklyn, New York. The New York, New York Index to Birth Certificates, at, said his birth year was 1905. Frehm’s World War II draft card and the Social Security Death Index have the year 1904. The birth certificate also said his parents were Morris Friedman and Ethel Ramer who lived in Brooklyn on Hopkins Street. 

The 1915 New York state census recorded Frehm as “Percy Friedman”, the second of four brothers, Solomon, Herbert and Walter. The family of six resided in Manhattan at 19 West 118th Street. His father was an ice cream salesman. 

On December 24, 1917 Herbert passed away in Yonkers, New York. 

In the 1920 census, Frehm was “Paul Friedman”. Leonard was the youngest brother. Frehm’s parents were Hungarian emigrants who became naturalized citizens in 1900. The family lived in Yonkers, New York at 8 Fernbrook Street. 

Around 1923 Frehm enrolled as Paul Friedman at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. The 1924 yearbook, Prattonia, said he was in the General Art class of 1925. 

Frehm had two illustrations published in the Jackson News, December 28, 1924. 

The 1925 New York State Census recorded a 20-year-old daughter, Beatrice, as part of the Friedman household. She was Solomon’s wife. The seven people were Yonkers residents at 209 Buena Vista Avenue. Frehm’s occupation was artist. 

The Political Life of Al Smith strip appeared in 1928. It was drawn by Frehm and written by Barry Meglaughlin. 

According to the 1930 census, commercial artist Frehm was a lodger at his parents’ home in Yonkers at 288 Hawthorne Avenue. His youngest brothers, Walter and Leonard, were part of the household. 

Frehm drew The Crime of the Century strip which was written by reporter Lou Wedemar (1901–1979). The strip told the story of the 1932 kidnapping of Charles A. Lindbergh’s son. On December 27, 1934, King Features Syndicate released the strip to coincide with the trial of Bruno Hauptmann, the accused kidnapper. The series ended on January 23, 1935 in the Detroit Times. In 1999 the strips were collected and published as The Lindbergh Kidnapping: The Original 1935 “Crime of the Century” Comic Serial

American Newspaper Comics (2012) said Frehm drew several Sundays of Chip Collins’ Adventures in 1935.  He did a week of Ted Towers Animal Master dailies from May 23 to 30, 1936.

The Herald Statesman (Yonkers, New York), December 11, 1936, published a legal notice stating Frehm and his brothers, Walter and Leonard, had changed their surname from Friedman to Frehm. Leonard would find work at Fleischer Studios. 

In March 1939 Frehm visited Havana, Cuba. Then in August he went to Bermuda. The passenger lists had his address as 274 Hawthorne Avenue, Yonkers, New York. The same address was in the 1940 census. Frehm, an illustrator, and his brother, Leonard, lived with their parents. All of them had the Frehm surname. 

Frehm signed his World War II draft card on October 16, 1940. His address was unchanged. He was employed at the New York Mirror newspaper. Frehm was described as five feet ten inches, 150 pounds, with brown eyes and hair.

The New York State Marriage Index said Frehm married on November 23, 1944 in Yonkers.

Frehm’s profile at the National Cartoonists Society said 
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.
Frehm took over Ripley’s Believe It or Not in 1949 when Ripley died of a heart attack. A profile in Suburbia Today, July 19, 1981, said 
... 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. ...
In 1978 Frehm retired and handed the series over to Walter.

Frehm passed away on December 24, 1986, in Florida. The Social Security Death Index said his last residence was Hallandale, Florida.

Further Reading and Viewing
Chronicling America, various illustrations 
The Nassau Daily Review, President Franklin Roosevelt 
The Advance-News,  Mrs. Greta Henkle 
Nassau Daily Review-Star, Willie Sutton 
Lambiek Comiclopedia 


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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.


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