Saturday, August 07, 2021
Herriman Saturday: March 22 1910
March 22 1910 -- After over a month away (punctuated in the middle by a single cartoon -- weird), Herriman returns to the Examiner fold with a sports strip I frankly don't understand.
If you can't read the signage clearly, the house in panels five and six is that of Jim Jeffries. Why Herriman portrays Jack Johnson on the hunt for the title, but running scared at the sight of Jeffries I just don't get. As far as I know Johnson was raring to go against his aging, out of shape opponent. While the cartoon might just serve as an unfounded taunt, my impression of the mood in this time before the fight was that despite all the invective hurled against Johnson, cowardice was never an item featured on the menu.
Labels: Herriman's LA Examiner Cartoons
Thursday, August 05, 2021
Toppers: Smilin' Jack Cut-Out
Zack Mosley's long-running aviation strip, Smilin' Jack, never really went in much for toppers. In the very early days of the Sunday there was a short-lived feature called Air Facts, but that was even before the feature had gained it's permanent name -- the first few months were titled On The Wing.
The next topper debuted on August 25 1935. It was a cut-out feature that occasionally ran under the title of Smilin' Jack Cut-Out or Smilin' Jack Airport, but was usually untitled. Each week readers could cut out a different model of plane. By the time Mosley tired of the panel feature and discontinued it after October 4 1936*, kids who faithfully cut each one out had quite a collection.
The topper was included in both half page and half-tab formats. I don't have any full tab versions from this era (were they even offered?) so I don't know if that format included it.
Smilin' Jack would go 'topless' for well over a decade before deigning to try a new topper, another factoid feature.
* Source: All dates from New York Sunday News
Labels: Topper Features
It would seem that Smilin' Jack was only offered as a half and half tab size. I knew Mosely, that is, as a young corresponding fan. He was assembling some reprint collections, using his own file of original proofs in the late 1970's, and I asked him why the Sundays were only in that size. He said that's all there ever was.
I forget the reason he gave; he would tend to prefer to kid around rather than bore himself with retelling dull facts, but my guess is that though it was a long running member of the Trib/News line up, SJ had nowhere near the popularity of their other action adventure series, and so with a small client list, maybe it wasn't worth the extra syndicate production.
Mosely would end his letters with the farewell, "CAVU" (which was pilot argot for "Ceiling And Visibility Unlimited.")
That is a great question! The definition of topper is a little loosey-goosey. Here is the definition I offered in my book:
"Toppers are auxiliary strip or panel features that accompany the main feature. They are expendable portions of the feature that make reformatting for smaller spaces simpler. ... Although the classical style of topper was all but gone by the 1960s ... other auxiliary titled features, usually a single panel, survive to the present day, like Dick Tracy's Crimestopper's Textbook. Although not toppers in the classical sense, they are documented as such" for continuity's sake.
There is lots of room for argument with that definition, and I welcome anyone who wishes to come up with a definition that allows us to classify toppers separately from what you might call Auxiliary Features. That could be tough to do, because it is seemingly not as simple as strip vs. panel -- I think the many panel auxiliary features to King Features strips of the mid-30s deserve the appellation 'topper', but maybe I'm wrong?
Actually Smilin' Jack was offered as a full tab, because I have some in my collection. I have a few from 1934, then a long fallow period, then quite a few starting in 1938, until they finally trail off in 1953 (check out the Baltimore Sun online for late samples).
Though I do not have a problem with anyone referring to them as toppers.
Tuesday, August 03, 2021
Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Joe Irving
Labels: Ink-Slinger Profiles
Monday, August 02, 2021
Obscurity of the Day: Potash and Perlmutter
Montague Glass was a lawyer who spent a lot of time in court listening to the trials and tribulations of the clothing tradesmen in New York City. He came to have an intimate knowledge of the retailers and wholesalers, mostly Jewish, how they spoke and the sorts of business dealings that landed them in court.
In the 1900s Glass set aside his law books and began writing humorous short stories about the people he'd come to know so well. He came up with a pair named Potash and Perlmutter, Jewish businessmen in the "cloak and suit" business, and wrote of their "co-partnership ventures and adventures" to wide acclaim. Soon there was a book, then a hit Broadway play, then travelling theatricals and movies.
According to historians, Potash and Perlmutter were embraced by Jews because they seemed entirely authentic to them; non-Jews liked them because although the works were sprinkled with Yiddishisms, Glass did not go hog wild with heavy dialect, keeping the stories understandable to the goyim.
Potash and Perlmutter were still a going concern in the 1920s, though now referred to as "old favorites," They were appearing in the occasional silent film, and McClure, then Bell, distributed weekly newspaper text and illustration series. In 1926, either Bell or Glass came up with the idea of adding a comic strip to the mix. A new play was about to debut on Broadway, with the pair entering the detective business, so it was decided that the strip would debut around the same time and work the same general plot.
The strip debuted on September 13 1926* with art by Joe Irving, who had recently also taken over illustrating duties on the weekly stories from Milt Morris. Irving's drawings get the job done, but not much more than that can be said in his favour. For readers who already liked Potash and Perlmutter, the stories were more of the same, and probably actually written by Glass himself.
Evidently most newspaper editors weren't overwhelmed with an itch to buy the new comic strip, because it debuted in a very modest number of papers. It did outlast the play, though, which closed after only forty-some performances. The strip might have limped along for quite awhile, but Joe Irving either quit or was fired, his last signed strip appearing on July 16 1927. An anonymous cartoonist took over (perhaps Milt Morris), but it was basically just to latch the shutters and lock the doors. The strip ended on August 13 1927**.
* Source: Jeffrey Lindenblatt based on New York Mirror
** Source: Yonkers Statesman
Sunday, August 01, 2021
Wish You Were Here, from Margaret G. Hays
Here's a nice Christmas-themed postcard penned by Margaret G. Hays. It was issued by The Rose Company, but the copyright is obscured -- 1909 I think.
Labels: Wish You Were Here