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.


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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


I didn't realize that a "topper" could consist of just a single panel like this one. Would something like "Kitty Korner" (accompanying "Heathcliff") count as a topper, too?
I'd forgotten that once upon a time Jack didn't wear a moustache. That girl looks like Boots with a dye job.
Hello Allan-
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.")
Hi Joshua ---
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?

Hi Mark --
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).

I have come to call those extras like Dinny's Family Album, Popeye's Cartoon Club, the doll cut-outs,, etc. as "Panel Companions" to differentiate them from the actual multiple panel comic strip toppers.
Though I do not have a problem with anyone referring to them as toppers.
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Tuesday, August 03, 2021


Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Joe Irving

Joseph Haskell “Joe” Irving was born Isaac Cohen on August 3, 1898, in Berlad, Romania, according to his naturalization applications, Declaration of Intent (1926) and Petition for Citizenship (1931). A passenger list, at, listed Irving as “Isaak Cohn” who traveled with his mother “Adela” and sister, “Sofia”. They were Romanian emigrants who sailed, October 19, 1901, from Antwerp, Belgium, and arrived in the port of New York on October 29. 

In the 1905 New York state census, the Cohen family lived in Manhattan at 386 East 10th Street. Irving’s mother was an operator. 

The 1910 census recorded the Cohens in Denver, Colorado, at 2096 Washington Street, where they lived with Samuel Babst, a pharmacist who was Irving’s maternal uncle. 

On March 29, 1914, Irving’s sister, Sophie Cohen, married Mayer Abrams in in Chicago, Illinois. 

The 1915 New York state census said Mayer “Abrahams” (a dry goods proprietor), his wife, son and mother-in-law lived in Brooklyn at 1483 Lincoln Place. Irving has not been found in the this census. 

On September 12, 1918, Irving signed his World War I draft card. His address was 1530 Webster Avenue in the Bronx. His birth date, August 1, 1899, does not match the dates on his naturalization documents. Irving named his mother as next of kin. She resided in the Bronx at 826 East 167th Street; the same address was in the 1920 census. Irving was a freelance artist. Information about his art training has not been found. 

Irving has not yet been found in the 1920 census and 1925 New York state census. His mother, who remarried in 1922, and sister resided in the Bronx. His brother-in-law was an embroidery manufacturer. 

Montague Glass (1877–1934) was a lawyer turned writer. He created the popular characters, Potash and Perlmutter, who were adapted into stage, radio and film productions. Many of the Potash and Perlmutter newspaper stories were illustrated by Moe Zayas (1913), Foster M. Follet (1918), Harry J. Westerman (1918), Albert Levering (1919–192?), Milt Morris (1924) and Irving (below). 

Tarrytown Daily News 4/9/1927

American Newspaper Comics (2012) said Irving drew the strip Potash and Perlmutter which debuted on September 13, 1926. His last signed strip appeared on July 16, 1927. The strip continued unsigned to August 13, 1927. It was distributed by the Bell Syndicate

Editor & Publisher 6/5/1926

The strip ran in the Tarrytown Daily News (New York) from April 16 to August 13, 1927

Irving took the first step to becoming a naturalized citizen. He filed a Declaration of Intent on May 28, 1926. The application had his full name, Joseph Haskell Irving, and birth name, Isaac Cohen. His occupation was manufacturer, so he may have been working for his brother-in-law.

According to the 1930 census, Irving was in his brother-in-law’s household which included Irving’s mother, sister, nephew and niece. They resided in the Bronx at 1555 Featherbed Lane. Irving was a furniture salesman and his brother-in-law, Mayer, was the proprietor of art goods. On February 8, 1939 Mayer committed suicide when he jumped from the window of his Bronx home at 1065 Jerome Avenue. 

Irving’s sister was the head of the household in the 1940 census. Irving, who became a naturalized citizen on August 13, 1931, lived with her, his mother and niece in the Bronx at 1081 Jerome Avenue. His nephew had passed away October 8, 1934. Irving was a furniture salesman who earned $5,000 in 1939. His education included four years of high school. 

Irving signed his World War II draft card on February 15, 1942. His address was the same. He was employed by the Stockline Furniture Corporation. Irving’s description was five feet eight-and-a-half inches, 185 pounds, with brown eyes and gray hair. 

The Board of Elections in the City of New York, Borough of the Bronx, List of Enrolled Voters for the Year 1950–1951, had this listing, “Irving, Joseph H, 1081 Jerome ave - D”. 

An obituary or death notice for Irving has not been found. His sister passed away in Brooklyn in March 1975.

Further Reading
Bourbon News (Paris, Kentucky)
September 8, 1914: Something About Montague Glass

American Jewish World (Minneapolis, Minnesota)
October 1, 1915: Potash and Perlmutter


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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


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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.


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