Saturday, June 12, 2021


Herriman Saturday: February 8 1910


Herriman attends an auto show and meets representatives from the various companies. Other than the Auburn, which is still well-remembered today as one of the premier luxury car makers of the 1900s-1930s, all the rest are pretty much in the dustbin of history -- Rambler (revived as a nameplate decades later by Nash), Petrel, Badger and Pennsylvania.


I really treasure these additional facets of Herriman.
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Friday, June 11, 2021


Obscurity of the Day: Tom, Dick and Harry


The Keeley Syndicate, based out of the Chicago Herald, couldn't seem to find clients for their Sunday comics, and no wonder, they were a pretty pathetic lot. You would never have guessed based on their crummy features that this syndicate would launch the careers of E.C. Segar, Billy DeBeck, J.P. McEvoy and, featured today, Frank Willard. 

Willard started out at the Herald doing a daily strip with no continuing title, but his first Sunday feature was Tom, Dick and Harry, which started February 7 1915. The strip starred a kid gang trio who engaged in the typical shenanigans, offering no particular hint of genius on the part of the cartoonist. Who would have guessed that Willard would soon create Moon Mullins, a strip whose popularity would keep it going for nearly seven decades. 

Tom, Dick and Harry initially ran until October 17 1915, then went on a hiatus, then returned on January 30 1916 and ran until March 25 1917. On the following Sunday Willard unveiled a new strip called Mr. and Mrs. Pippin, which was much more in keeping with Willard's interest in portraying the lower classes. 


Hello Allan-
There's a lot of good stuff in Willard's pre-Moon years, but all of it seems to be obscure.
His time at King Features was mainly spent on "The Outta Luck Club", but he also had a short stint on "Eddie's Friends" which was the only time that feature actually funny.
er, ..Was funny.
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Wednesday, June 09, 2021


Toppers: Fisher's History of Boxing


Joe Palooka had many toppers, but it was only the very luckiest Palooka fans who got to see them. The early toppers ran in both full and tabloid version of the strip, but starting in 1936, toppers began getting lopped off of certain formats. By the 1940s they were very rarely seen because they were dropped from pretty much every format except some oddball ones. 

But that's as much as I'll say about that today, because today we're covering Fisher's History of Boxing, a topper that was included in the full and tab versions of the Sunday page in an era when anything less than that was relatively rare. This topper debuted on September 3 1933, and each week offered up short vignettes from (surprise, surprise) the history of boxing. The text on these strips was relatively mundane, but sometimes the drawings added a little levity to the proceedings, like in the sample above.

The strip ran for almost three years, finally ending on June 20 1936 by chronicling James J. Braddock's win over Max Baer, which happened in 1935. By 1936 the topper was no longer included with all tab formats; it was still available but the paper had to employ an extra long tabloid format to accommodate it. Fisher's History of Boxing would prove to be the last Joe Palooka topper seen by most readers of the strip, as subsequent series were used by fewer and fewer papers. 


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Monday, June 07, 2021


Obscurity of the Day: Jocko


Raymond "GAR" Garman was the king of the jungle animal strip on the Chicago Daily News weekday funnies page. He started contributing to the page in 1900, and did lots of panel cartoons starring jungle animals from early on, but it wasn't until 1902 that he really applied himself to a strip with a continuing jungle character. Eventually this jungle strip would devolve into having no consistent continuing characters, but originally it started out starring a monkey named Jocko ... or sometimes Chatters. This first installment of what I'm calling the Jocko series was on August 4 1902. The continuing thread to this series, as was true of most of his jungle material, was to assume the jungle kingdom had a society and personalities much like ours, just populated with hairy creatures instead of us. 

It is impossible to pin down an end date for the Jocko series, because it dovetails with lots of other jungle material, and when monkeys were featured for years to come Garman would recycle the same names over and over. About all I can say for this Jocko series is that the derby-wearing ape by that name was seen less and less in 1903, so that's about as specific an end date as I can manage. Garman continued doing jungle strips and panels throughout his tenure on the back page of the Daily News, which ended about 1912. Occasionally he would carve out an actual series, and I have documented those in my book, but a case could be made that the real listing for "GAR" is simply Jungle Strip and Panels, 1900 - 1912.


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Sunday, June 06, 2021


Wish You Were Here, from Buster Brown


Here's another one of those Magic Slate postcards that were distributed in the major Hearst papers in 1907. This one features a nice portrait of Buster Brown revealed once junior sloshes water all over the thin paper card.

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