Saturday, July 31, 2021


Herriman Saturday: March 3, 1910


March 3 1910 -- Ad Wolgast has just won the lightweight championship from Battling Nelson, and Herriman shows us graphically how he and his manager, Tom Jones, managed to get in front of other contenders to get the fight with the now former champion. 

If you pay attention to the dates of these cartoons, you will have noticed that there was over two weeks between this cartoon and Herriman's last. It would seem to speak to a vacation, but after this cartoon, we will lose Herriman for another three weeks of inactivity. I thought perhaps he was busy with syndicated work for Hearst, but February - March was actualy one of his periods with nothing going on in that world. If it was a vacation, it certainly was a long one.


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Friday, July 30, 2021


Obscurity of the Day: Magic Eye


Most of you know that I don't track newspaper activity features, generally, even if there are cartoon elements. However, in the case of Magic Eye the only real activity is focusing your eyes, so I give it a pass.

Magic Eye pictures, which when focused on just right reveal a hidden 3-D cartoony image, was a big fad in the 1990s. I suppose the high point of that fad was the infamous episode of Seinfeld wherein Mr. Pitt is so intent on finding the hidden picture in one that he misses an important meeting:

Magic Eye pictures (more scientifically known as an autostereograms) were popularized by a company called N.E. Thing Enterprises, headed by Tom Baccei and Cheri Smith. Initially creating the optical illusions for ads, the business quickly branched out into posters, books, and, in 1994, a Sunday comics feature.  Baccei flew the coop in 1995, looking at sales figures that showed the fad had run its course, but Smith hung in there with the concept for the long haul. 

Smith was most likely in charge of the weekly Magic Eye newspaper series from its inception, though until December 6 1998 it offered no credits. Since Andrews-McMeel published the books, Universal Press Syndicate was a shoe-in to distribute the feature, which debuted on June 5 1994*. At first the feature was 'hosted' by Wizzy Nodwig, a magical sprite of some sort. With no role except to appear in the corner of the feature, he was mercifully retired on October 1 1996, the same date on which the feature title was changed from just Magic Eye to Magic Eye Illusions

Credits were added to the feature starting December 6 1998. (It should be noted that by now the feature was appearing in very few comic sections, the fad now long over). From that date on Cheri Smith always got lead credit, but starting on that date Bill Clark and Andy Paraskevas were offered co-authorship. I have no idea what role these co-creators actually play -- are they the technical folks who do the computer wizardry part, or are they involved more in the art end of the feature? In what little I can find on these co-authors on the interwebs, it appears that they were likely more involved in the graphics end. 

Clark only got a credit until January 31 1999, but Andy Paraskevas, who was a part-owner of the business, was credited through September 5 1999. After that Cheri Smith received full credit until March 23 2003, when Dawn Zimiles was added. Zimiles received a co-credit for the next ten years, ending March 24 2013 (yes, believe it or not, the feature was STILL running). Two years later, though, Zimiles returns for a second co-credit stint, from April 26 2015 through December 24 2017*. In finding these dates in the New York Sunday News, one of the rare newspapers still carrying it, I also found that material was being recycled by now. I don't know if it was all reprints (hard to care that much, y'know) or if some was still new. 

The Sunday News finally dropped it in 2019 and I haven't been able to track it after that. However, according to the Magic Eye website the feature is still available. 
There have been a slew of Magic Eye books (including, bizarrely, one focusing on Nostradamus), but the only one specifically advertised as containing images from the newspaper feature is titled Magic Eye: Have Fun in 3-D; oddly, I can find no evidence that this book was actually published.

For an interesting history of the Magic Eye fad, I recommend The Hidden History of Magic Eye.

*Source: Quad City Times
* Sources for credits: Fort Myers News-Press and New York Daily News


hey should have combined this with "Where's Waldo."
Absolutely stunning. Damndest thing I've seen since the live Jefferson Airplane concert in 1969.
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Thursday, July 29, 2021


Jeffrey Lindenblatt's Paper Trends: The 300 for 1985 -- Overall Results

For the year 1985 we did not lose any papers but 5 papers did not have the information available for the January 1985 survey so for this survey we have 281 papers available out of the 300.

In the Top 30 we have one strip returning to the Top 10 and one classic strip entering the Top 30. Doonesbury returns after its 22 month hiatus and with 17 more papers than in the 1982 survey it is now number 6. Because of Doonesbury’s reappearance, many strips that appeared in the top 30 fell one position.

Eek and Meek entering the Top 30, and falling out of the Top 30 are Berry’s World and Nancy. Readers are not liking the direction the strip has been going since Ernie Bushmiller’s passing.

Gasoline Alley was the biggest mover, moving up 2 spots. Several moved up one position. One of these was Garfield, moving up to number 3, knocking Beetle Bailey down to 4. Garfield gained 15 papers this year and now has 187 papers. Since we began The 300 with 1978 the top three has been the same: Peanuts, Blondie and Beetle Bailey. This is the first change in the Top 3. Will Garfield pass Blondie or even knock Peanuts off the top spot? We will have to find out as time goes on. With Doonesbury returning we now have 11 strips over the 100 paper mark.




+/- Papers

Total Papers













Up 1



Beetle Bailey


Down 1



Hagar the Horrible










Family Circus


Down 1



Wizard of Id


Down 1



Frank and Ernest


Up 1





Down 2



Hi and Lois


Down 3





Down 1



Andy Capp


Down 1



Born Loser


Down 1



Dennis the Menace


Down 1



For Better or For Worse


Down 1



Bloom County


Up 1



Mary Worth


Down 2



Barney Google and Snuffy Smith


Down 2










Down 2





Down 1



Rex Morgan


Down 1





Down 1








Tank McNamara


Down 2



Gasoline Alley


Up 2





Down 1





Down 2



Eek and Meek






 Like we did with the last year survey we will see if the universal comic section continues to grow.

 Top 2 strips – 170 (Up 8)

Top 3 strips - 138 (Down 3)

Top 4 strips – 116 (Up 10)

Top 5 strips – 72 (Up 9)

Top 6 strips – 47 (Up 18)

Top 7 strips – 26 (Up 8)

Top 8 strips – 15 (Up 5)

Top 9 strips – 6 (Down 2)

Top 10 strips – 2 (Down 1)

Top 11 strips – 2 (Down 1)

Top 12 strips – 2 (Up 1)

Top 13 strips – 1 (Same)

Top 14 strips – 1 (Same)

Top 15 strips – 1 (Up 1)

 Again, the Austin American Statesman had the most universal section running the Top 15 strips. The Tampa Tribune now has the Top 12 strips. The Top 8 had the greatest increase. We will see what will happen next year.

 Here are the remaining strips that were running in the Top 300 this year.

41 – Alley Oop (-2), Far Side (12), Nancy (-3)

40 – Berry’s World (-7), Funky Winkerbean (1)

37 – Bugs Bunny (-1)

36 – Dick Tracy (-1)
35 – Amazing Spider-Man (-6)

34 – Tiger (-2)

32 - Judge Parker (0), Lockhorns (+6)

29 - Mother Goose and Grimm (R), Tumbleweeds (-3)

28 – Archie (-2)

27 – Sally Forth (+1)

26 - Buz Sawyer (-2), Snake Tales (0)

25 - Kit N Carlyle (+2)

23 - Apartment 3-G (0), Phantom (+1)

22 - Broom Hilda (-2), Levy’s Law (+3), Steve Canyon (-4)

21 – Geech (+1)

20 - Mark Trail (-2)

19 – Captain Easy (-3)

18 - Dunagin’s People (-1), Great John L/Babyman (0), On The Fastrack (R), Redeye (-1), They’ll Do It Every Time (+1)

17 – Crock (-2)

16 – Hazel (0)

15 - Fred Basset (0), Steve Roper and Mike Nomad (-1)

14 - Can You Solve this Mystery? (R)

13 – Adam (R), Momma (-3), Small Society (-5)

12 - Donald Duck (-1), Mr. Men and Little Miss (-6), Motley's Crew (0), Mr. Tweedy (+1)

11 – Duffy (-4), Gil Thorp (0), Kuduz (0), Little Orphan Annie (-2), Rip Kirby (+1)

10 – Benchley (R), Brenda Starr (-1), Drabble (+1), Guindon (+1), Ryatts (0), John Darling (0)

9 - Animal Crackers (+1), Grin and Bear It (-5)

8 - Agatha Crumm (-1), Dondi (-1), Girls (0), Heart of Juliet Jones (-1), Miss Peach (-1), Neighborhood (0), Willy N Ethel (+1)

7 - Better Half (-2), Catfish (0), Conrad (-10), Elwood (-1), Graffiti (0), Muppets (-4), Rock Channel (R)

6 - Captain Vincible (-4), Fenton (-6), Flintstones (+1), Henry (-1), Love Is (-1), Moose Miller (0), Ripley’s Believe It Or Not (-1), Rose is Rose (R), There Oughta Be A Law (+1)

5 – Arnold (0), Gordo (+1), Hocus-Focus (0), Pavlov (-1), Winnie the Pooh (-2)

4 - A Little Leary, Boner’s Ark, Bringing Up Father, Ferd’Nand, Flash Gordon, Johnny Wonder, Laff-A-Day, Middle Ages, Our Fascinating Earth, Ponytail, Quigmans, Scamp, Smith Family, Winnie Winkle, Wright Angels

3 - Ask Shagg, Belvedere, Ben Wicks, Betty Boop & Felix, Bumgardner, Charlie, Clout St, Downstown, Good News Bad News, It’s Just A Game, McGonigle of the Chronicle, Nubbin, Rivets, Sam and Silo, Travels With Farley, Trudy

2 - According to Guinness, Amy, Bears In Love, Ben Swift, Big George, Dick And Jane, Dr. Smock, Eb & Flo, Health Capsules, Kidspot, Laugh Time, Mandrake the Magician, Mickey Mouse, Moon Mullins, Mr. Abernathy, Outcasts, Play Better Golf With Jack Nicklaus, Popeye, Sporting Life, Ug!, Vidiots, Word-A-Day

1 - Bottom's, Brick Bradford, Brother Juniper, Charlie Buggs, Ching Chow, Eyebeam, Full House, Furtree High, Gumdrop, Kaleb, Laffbreak, Mark Trail Outdoor Tips, Marvin and Melvin, Modesty Blaise, Murphy’s Law, Peter Principle, Pot-Shots, Quincy, Ribbons, Rudy, Salt Chuck, Secret Agent Corrigan, Sidelines, Stan Smith’s Tennis Class, Sylvia, That’s Jake, This Funny World, Wordplay





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Wednesday, July 28, 2021


Jeffrey Lindenblatt's Paper Trends: The 300 for 1985 -- Biggest Winners and Losers

The biggest gainer is a strip that has been out of the newspapers for the last 22 months; Doonesbury returns as a force to be reckoned with, gaining an impressive 17 papers over what he had when he went on vacation. This rise is in spite of the fact that Garry Trudeau now demanded that his daily strip can only be printed at a certain minimum size,  larger than the current comic strip daily. This caused a major change to the location of Doonesbury in newspapers – many editors took the opportunity to move it to the op-ed pages.

In other news, Garfield is continuing its climb, and The Far Side is finally picking up steam.

Here are the top gainers of the year:

Doonesbury - +17

Garfield – +15

Far Side - +12

Bloom County – +11

Cathy – +9

Frank and Ernest – +7

Andy Capp – +6

Dennis the Menace – +6

Lockhorns –+ 6

Peanuts – +5

Blondie – +5

Hagar the Horrible – +5

Shoe – +5

Marvin - +5

 Here are the biggest losers of the year.

Conrad – 10

Berry’s World – 7

Amazing Spider-Man – 6

Mr. Men and Little Miss – 6

Fenton – 6

Small Society – 5

Grin and Bear It - 5

 Adventures strip continue their downward spiral:

Alley Oop – 41 (-2)

Dick Tracy – 36 (-1)

Amazing Spider-Man – 35 (-6)

Buz Sawyer – 26 (-2)

Phantom – 23 (1)

Steve Canyon – 22 (-4)

Mark Trail – 20 (-2)

Captain Easy – 19 (-3)

Steve Roper and Mike Nomad – 15 (-1)

Can You Solve The Mystery (new strip) – 14 (14)

Little Orphan Annie – 11 (-2)

Rip Kirby – 11 (1)

Brenda Starr – 10 (-1)

Flash Gordon – 4 (0)

Mandrake The Magician – 2 (0)

Popeye – 2 (0)

Brick Bradford – 1 (0)

Modesty Blaise – 1 (0)

Secret Agent Corrigan – 1 (0)

Superman – 0 (0)

Tim Tyler’s Luck – 0 (0)

 Adventures strips that ended accounted for even more of an adventure strip bloodbath:

 Joe Palooka – 8

Star Wars – 7

Lone Ranger – 3

 The total slots devoted to adventure strips for 1984 was 274, down from 320. That is a 14.3% drop, which is less than last year but still a big drop.

 I have been asked how the soap strips are doing at this time. Not great but still better than the adventure strips. What will be happening is that over time after the adventure strips go the soaps will follow them.

Mary Worth – 72 (-1)

Rex Morgan – 55 (1)

Judge Parker – 32 (0)

Apartment 3-G – 23 (0)

Gil Thorp – 11 (0)

Dondi – 8 (-1)

Heart of Juliet Jones – 8 (-1)

Winnie Winkle – 4 (-1)

 As you can see the soap strips are holding up their own in 1984. There are other story strips but they fall into the comedy category like For Better or For Worse, Funky Winkerbean and Gasoline Alley. There are many strips that can fall into that category, but we would have to break them up to strip that run a story or theme for a week or run a story that can go up for three months or even longer. That is another category completely.




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Tuesday, July 27, 2021


Jeffrey Lindenblatt's Paper Trends: The Three Hundred for 1985 -- Rookie Features

 Over the last few years of this survey we’ve seen a familiar story over and over. The top rookie strips start big and then they have big fall. This has happened to strips like Star Wars and The Muppets. We have also had strips like Winnie the Pooh which had a big start then would have a small fall and then take a long time to completely disappear.

 In most cases, strips that really have what it takes to get big and stay big tend to have a slow start and build over time. This has happened to Garfield, Bloom County and For Better or For Worse

 This year we have something that has not happened since we started this journey. The top two rookie strips would have long and successful careers. Back in 1977 we had Amazing Spider-man and Shoe, this year we have Mother Goose and Grimm and On The Fastrack taking the top two spots.

 Coming in third place is an adventure strip, Can You Solve The Mystery? This one goes down the well-worn path of starting big and then imploding.

 Here are the rookies of 1984:

 Mother Goose and Grimm – 29 (Tribune Media Services)

On The Fastrack – 18 (King Features)

Can You Solve The Mystery? – 14 (News America Syndicate)

Adam – 13 (Universal Press Syndicate)

Benchley – 10 (Register and Tribune Syndicate)

Rock Channel – 7 (Register and Tribune Syndicate)

Rose Is Rose – 6 (United Features)

Middle Ages – 4 (Washington Post Writers Group)

Quigmans – 3 (Los Angeles Times Syndicate)

Betty Boop & Felix – 3 (King Features)

Bumgardner – 3 (Los Angeles Times Syndicate)

 The rest of the new strips are as follows – Dick and Jane (2), Ug! (2), Bottom’s (1), Full House (1), Peter Principle (1), That’s Jake (1)

 Here are the 1985 stats for the most successful strips that started since our 300 series began,  strips that began between in 1977-1984:

 Garfield (1978) – 187

Shoe (1977) – 98

For Better or For Worse (1979) – 79

Bloom County (1980) – 77

Marvin (1982) - 53


I always find these "three hundred" round-ups very interesting, but I was very surprised today to be reminded that "Mother Goose & Grimm" only began in 1984. This long-running strip has become so iconic, I don't think I could have guessed when it started... 1975? 1978? I feel like the Peters strip has been part of the daily comic pages forever! Well, as Jeffrey points out, it did catch on right away...
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Monday, July 26, 2021


News of Yore 1984: New Strip Dick and Jane Announced


Newspaper Readers Watching 'Dick and Jane' Run 

(from Editor and Publisher, March 24 1984)


 "Dick and Jane," a comic featuring the characters many American schoolchildren learned to read with, was introduced by the Register and Tribune Syndicate (RTS) earlier this month.

Charter newspapers for Chuck Roth's new strip include the Philadelphia Inquirer, Orlando Sentinel, Dallas Times Herald, Detroit News and Baltimore Evening Sun.

One Sunday episode reads, "See Dick eating a vanilla ice cream cone," "See Jane eating a chocolate ice cream cone," "See Sally eating a strawberry ice cream cone," then the dog Spot zooms by and swipes the ice cream from each of the three cones. The last panel states, "See Spot eating a Neapolitan ice cream cone."

"Even though the comic strip may be classified as adult-level humor, I have tried never to lose sight of the pure, simplistic approach," said Roth. "Actually, as the strip progressed, I felt like one of the kids! I guess emotionally there's still a child somewhere in all of us."

RTS president Dennis R. Allen found Roth after a more than seven-year search for the right  "Dick and Jane" cartoonist.

Roth is president and founder of the California-based Roth International. The design company works with over 200 firms worldwide under licensing contracts to apply Roth designs to products in more than 100 categories. Prior to that, he headed the Roth Greeting Card Company.

The cartoonist traces his artistic beginnings back to the third grade in Toronto, where he entered the Ontario Safety League poster contest and won second prize over thousands of other entrants. Roth later completed the art course at Central Technical School in Toronto, and, after moving to the U.S., attended the Art Center School of Design in Los Angeles.

 Thanks to John Lund for sending the article. John, your email address is not working, my emails are bouncing back.



So... Scott Foresman (or whoever by then owned the no longer used "Dick & Jane" books and characters) officially licensed this strip?
Very simple and very cute!
Hello Allan-
I myself was once taught with the aid of Dick and Jane,and their baby sister Sally. Though the adventures on offer were so imperceptible as to border on Zen, all these years later, are still vividly recalled. Don't believe "Dick and Jane" were a copyrighted trade mark as you can't control common forenames. The once familiar early readers were discontinued as their teaching method (Sight-Say) was abandoned in favor of more pop-fashionable theories (phonics). The short-lived Dick and Jane strip came along years after their schoolastic inspirations vanished from kiddies' sight.
Denny Allen missed the mark many times in the last yearsof the R&T, and if memory serves, this was one of the titles that was often thrown back at him as an example of his poor judgement.
I have a collection of the entire run of "Dick And Jane" from newspaper clippings and photocopies, and actually remember every gag, even down to their original publication dates. I have scanned all of them on my computer before, but consider making newer and bigger scans. Even though the "Dick And Jane" comic strip is not quite as strong in my mind nowadays, it still very much plays a big influence in my tastes for humor and characters today. When I first read this comic strip back in 1984, that was when I first discovered that I adore cute characters. I also draw comics as a hobby, and have drawn mainly adult male characters for years. But I am currently in a cute and gentle - and toning down - phase and now enjoy drawing small children. I began doing such a comic strip series in 2020. An old comic strip series that I worked on for years is now taking a back seat to this new comic strip series.
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Sunday, July 25, 2021


Wish You Were Here, from Rose O'Neill


Here's a Kewpies card by Rose O'Neill, published by the Gibson Art Company of Cincinnati. The card itself is undated but it was postally used in 1923. These are relatively expensive on the collector market, so you won't see many of them here.


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