Saturday, July 10, 2021


Herriman Saturday: February 15 1910


February 15 1910 --- George Memsic fights Lew Powell tonight, and Herriman repeats the same cartoon idea that he had on yesterday's sports page. Yesterday he portrayed Memsic trying to keep a bag of apples (titled "Local Prestige") from Wolgast, Picato and Powell, today it is a ladder to the championship crown. 

Herriman must have had a soft spot for Memsic, because the idea that he had any chance at all for the lightweight championship is pretty laughable -- he had been losing fights pretty consistently for the past two years.


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Friday, July 09, 2021


Obscurity of the Day: The Little Journeys of Nip and Tuck


The comics editor at the Philadelphia North American must have thought he was about to strike gold when he had the opportunity to put together two bright stars of the cartooning universe. John R. Neill, already on the ladder to enduring fame for illustrating Baum's Oz books, was paired with W. R. Bradford, the wackiest comic strip writer this side of Rube Goldberg, to create a Little Nemo pastiche called The Little Journeys of Nip and Tuck.

Only problem was that the pairing stunk up the place like skunks having a spraying contest in a gym locker full of old athletic socks. It should have been a master class in amazing illustration paired with sparkling writing, but somehow the dynamic duo brought out the worst in each other. Neill's art is fussy and stiff without the impressive flourishes he should have been providing, and Bradford's verses, normally riotous stuff, is about as stuffy as a reading from Leviticus. Great ideas fall flat, opportunities are missed, and yet, with two such giants of the comics page, we always have the sense that with just a little shot of joyousness that is utterly lacking, it could have and should have been truly great. 

The Little Journeys of Nip and Tuck ran in the Philadelphia North American's comic section from March 7 1909 to February 27 1910.

Thanks to Cole Johnson for the scans.


The strip feels like it was designed to be "Buster Brown meets Little Nemo". Tuck looks and dresses like Buster Brown, and the talking dog in the first example looks and sounds like Tige's brother. Nip has a definite Nemo-like quality of innocence about him. The locales visited and the supporting characters encountered look to be from Slumberland's basement.

I believe that you've nailed the problem with the strip on the head...while the art is competently rendered, the strip lacks any sense of Buster Brown's mischief and humor and fails to inspire Little Nemo's sense of awe and wonder. Bob Carlin
Hello Allan-
A more fun knockoff of Nemo by a great "illustrator" (rather than cartoonist) was Pulitzer's The Explorigator" by Harry Grant Dart.
You say that 14 March 1909 is the first one, but it's actually 7 March, in fact, the page shown second (Milwaukee Sentinel) above. The strange thing about North American series that were made for covers, is that in syndication they had a standard slug made for the top picture that would support the client's masthead. This one seems to reflect parts of the first two episodes, the gnome in the airship, and the bull headed "Milk Men." I think the header changed often in the parent paper, but it never did in syndication. Kaptain Kiddo was like that too.
Mark -- The March 7 Sunday section was missing from the North American microfilm, so I used the Anaconda Standard to fill in that and several other 1909 dates that were missing. In the Anaconda paper the 3/14 issue is definitely the first installment of Little Journeys. So was that paper running a week late? Where is your 3/7 date coming from? (I'll have a number of other fixes to do if that darn Anaconda paper let me down).

Btw, I couldn't agree more about The Explorigator, and for that matter, just about anything Harry Grant Dart put his pen to.

Hello Allan-
The Sentinel page is the first one- It's even dated 7 March. And I have a breakdown of the NA for that date as well, the microfile I used did have it. Probably the Montana paper was running late, unless they picked it up starting with week 2.
Read the 7 March (Sentinel) page-Doesn't it seem like an introduction to the story? So, which one does Anaconda start with, the Gnome-airship or Bull-heads episode?
Aargh! Somehow that most obvious fact could not penetrate the rocky outcropping at the top of my head. Obviously it started on the 7th, have changed the post to cover up my stupidity.

Worse, that means Anaconda WAS a week late. Which means all my 1909 fill-ins are wrong, which means I've probably got other errors to fix as well.

If it's of any use to you, here's the North American breakdown for
7 March 1909:
(A gnome takes N & T on a trip through the milky way)
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Wednesday, July 07, 2021


Obscurity of the Day: Uncle Charlie


We've discussed the filler strips of the New York Herald-Tribune before, so rather than wearing down my fingerprints, I'll ask you to click over to this post for a quick explanation. 

Uncle Charlie is another of those fillers, and it ran on occasion in the H-T's funnies pages from March 14 to October 10 1948. It has the distinction of being the only series penned by Dave T. Jones, about whom I know nothing. Mr. Jones does a perfectly creditable job on the strip, though I can't say I'm keen on characters whose heads are drawn with a compass.

Love this for the simplicity and color. Little kids would love it.
Maybe "Dave T. Jones" is a nom de toon.
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Monday, July 05, 2021


Obscurity of the Day: Clifford McBride's Daily Panel Series


It's hard to believe that I've been doing this blog for over a decade and a half now, and some of my favorite cartoonists still haven't taken a proper bow on our little stage. Clifford McBride, a cartoonist whose sumptuous line, brilliant wit and expressive characters should have him on anyone's short list of the 20th century's greatest newspaper cartoonists, is justly famous for Napoleon and Uncle Elby, the dog strip that made him famous. 

I like Napoleon just fine, but my favorite Cliff McBride ventures are the daily panel series and Sunday pantomime strip he did in the 1920s. In these he had more opportunity to spread his wings, as there were no continuing characters (well, okay, Napoleon first surfaced in the Sunday pantomime series). Free to find humour just about anywhere his fertile imagination could take him, these series were nothing short of brilliant. 

Oddly, the Sunday and daily series were distributed by two different syndicates. Today I'll concentrate on the daily panel series syndicated by Central Press Association, and we'll leave the Sunday series, from McNaught, for another day -- hopefully not another fifteen or more years in the future. 

McBride's daily panels had no single overarching title, but he did have a set of standard titles under which he drew regularly. Of these, the most often seen were Forlorn Figures, Insect Life, When To Be Nonchalant, and Uncrowned Kings. A few others were less often seen -- Front Page Folk and Bert and Alf (hmm, guess that's two more running characters).  These relatively generic titles were no limitation on McBride's cartoons at all; they worked for just about any situation imaginable. For instance, the bottom sample, headlined Insect Life, could just as easily have run under the title Forlorn Figures or even When To Be Nonchalant

What is a little odd about this daily series is that the humour is quite cosmopolitan, quite sophisticated. This is a bad fit for the Central Press Association, which serviced mainly small town and rural papers. One can only wonder what the newspaper readers of Smallville made of McBride's wicked humour about urban concerns. On the other hand, the folks in those towns no longer relied on fireflies and gossip for entertainment; the movies had brought tuxedo-wearing sophisticates as close as the local movie theatre. 

For some reason, Central Press decreed that McBride's panel would bear no date stamps, and for this reason many papers ran it ROP and late. That makes pinning down start and end dates more challenging. It doesn't help that E&P in its January 22 1927 issue stated that the panel would begin that month, whereas I have found enough evidence to pretty well guarantee that the actual start date is March 14 of that year. 

The end date is more elusive; most papers seem to have quit running it in mid-1932 or so. But I have others running it later, albeit sporadically. My guess, though, is that the panel ended on the precise date of November 12 1932. That's because Central Press tended to have a consistent number of comic strips and panels on offer, and they started a new panel, The Tutts by Crawford Young, on Monday, November 14. I'd bet the contents of my piggy bank that means McBride was cut loose at the end of the previous week*. 

* EDIT: Jeffrey Lindenblatt finds two papers ending the feature on that day, Brooklyn Times-Union and Plainfield Courier-News, making the contents of my piggy bank seem quite safe.

These are wonderful, as you say. They remind me of H. T. Webster. Since they've never been collected, I'd like to make my own collection out of commercially scanned newspapers. Which newspapers would you recommend for completeness / internet availability / quality of reproduction?

I see McBride died young, at 50. What happened?
According to R.C. Harvey, "McBride died of a heart attack while in the hospital being treated for prostate cancer."

To my limited understanding, advanced prostate cancer in one so young would be a rarity.
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Sunday, July 04, 2021


Wish You Were Here, from Dwig


Dwig did a lot of work for Raphael Tuck, and this card bears all the qualities of a Tuck production: excellent quality, embossed, printed in Germany, use of Series designation. However, the card does not credit Tuck. It is marked on the reverse "Series 110" and has the following logo that I do not recognize:



Does anyone know what company published this card?


Is the publisher Ed. Gross? He was a New York publisher. Many cards were printed in Germany, especially Dresden, for British and American kartemiesters. Somehow it was economical to have them do it and export them, and still sell them for ½¢ or 1¢.
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