Saturday, August 14, 2021
Herriman Saturday: March 24 1910
March 24 1910 -- I only have the first few lines of this article penned by Herriman about an exhibition baseball game, what a shame. The game between rival theatrical companies was to benefit the Actors' Fund, and one team wore blackface, calling their team "In Hayti." They appeared in disguise because they had some pro ballplayer ringers on their team, and they were trying to hide them. But that's okay, the other team had some pro talent as well.
Labels: Herriman's LA Examiner Cartoons
Thursday, August 12, 2021
Obscurity of the Day: Cyclone Sims
We recently covered Don Key O.T. by J.P. Arnot, which I called his last syndicated effort. But it could be that Cyclone Sims, which ran for awhile in 1930 at only one paper that I can find (the Lynn Telegram-News), was syndicated. No syndicate stamps, but hey, that wouldn't be a first. Arnot signed the strips only "J.P" -- I don't know if that's because he wasn't proud of the strip, or if he was still under contract to the catatonic Kay Features and was flying under the radar.
In any case, syndicated or not, it seems to have been Arnot's final newspaper comic strip series. And while it was no classic by any means, it was kinda cute. We have a pair of moving men; Curly, a big lazy blowhard, and Cyclone Sims, a wise little powerhouse. The strips are quite formulaic -- the guys move furniture as they discuss this, that and the other thing, culminating in a gag. If any other characters figured into the strip, I never saw them in my very limited experience -- a very short stack of samples.
Any additional information you have on this strip would be warmly welcomed!
Tuesday, August 10, 2021
Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Bud Thompson
The 1920 U.S. Federal Census recorded the Thompson family in Minneapolis at 1336 Russell Avenue. Thompson’s father operated a barber shop.
Thompson studied at the Minneapolis Art Institute. Thompson graduated from the University of Minnesota in 1928. He was a member of the fraternity Pi Alpha and the art editor of Ski-U-Mah, the school’s humor magazine.
The 1928 Minneapolis city directory listed commercial artist Thompson at 111 West 34th Street.
On March 6, 1928 Thompson married Evelyn Sybil Syverson as recorded in the Minnesota marriage records at Ancestry.com.
In the 1930 census Thompson and his wife had a nine-month-old son. Also living with them was Thompson’s father-in-law, sister-in-law and a cousin. Thompson’s house was valued at seven-thousand dollars. His occupation was an artist for publications.
In 1919 Wilford “Capt. Billy” Hamilton Fawcett began his publishing empire in Robbinsdale, Minnesota. In 1931 Fawcett Publications moved to Minneapolis.
Lambiek Comiclopedia said Thompson used the pen name Bruno Thompson on the series Screen Oddities which was written by Roscoe Fawcett, the youngest son of “Capt. Billy” Fawcett. The series’ name changed, on March 21, 1938, to Star Flashes and Thompson used the pen name Charles Bruno. American Newspaper Comics (2012) said the Bell Syndicate series ran from November 30, 1931 to March 13, 1943. The Evening Star carried Screen Oddities and Star Flashes.
According to the 1940 census Thompson resided in Los Angeles, California at 6161 Whittsett. He and his wife had two sons and daughter. The household included his father-in-law. Thompson was a freelance artist.
On October 16, 1940, Thompson signed his World War II draft card. His address was 6161 Whittsett, North Hollywood, California. Thompson, a self-employed newspaper artist, was described as six feet one inch, 205 pounds, with hazel eyes and brown hair.
At some point Thompson moved to Greenwich, Connecticut. He may have gone there because Roscoe Fawcett had lived there in the early 1930s. A 1947 Greenwich directory said Thompson lived at 19 Woodland Drive and was a commercial artist working for “FP Inc” which stood for Fawcett Publications, Inc. In 1935 Fawcett Publications moved its headquarters to New York City and eventually published Captain Marvel and related comic books. Who’s Who of American Comic Books 1928–1999 said Thompson drew Captain Marvel Jr. from 1945 to 1953. Thompson was profiled in Alter Ego #64, January 2007; see the last two pages of the preview.
Thompson illustrated the 1947 book, Bar Nothing Ranch.
The 1956 Greenwich directory said Thompson was an artist in Westport, Connecticut. The following year he was an art instructor in Westport. In 1960 and 1961 the directories listed him as a cartoonist.
Thompson passed away in May 1980, in Chatham, Georgia. The Savannah, Georgia Cemetery Burial Lot Card, at Ancestry.com, said he died on May 8. The Georgia Death Index said he died on May 9. Thompson was laid to rest at Greenwich Cemetery.
Labels: Ink-Slinger Profiles
Monday, August 09, 2021
Obscurity of the Day: Screen Oddities / Star Flashes
On November 2 1931*, Bell Syndicate introduced a new feature designed to appeal to starstruck newspaper readers. If you were the type interested to know that Myrna Loy had webbed feet or that Charlie Chaplin collected a 12-foot ball of his own belly-button lint, then Screen Oddities was right up your alley. It was by no means the first such feature, but it had about the same level of modest success as its main competitors, NEA's Closeup and Comedy and King's Seein' Stars, all of which were born in the 1930s.
The feature was credited to Roscoe Fawcett, son of "Captain Billy" Fawcett, the magazine publisher who turned an amateurish little jokebook digest, Captain Billy's Whiz Bang, into a magazine empire. Roscoe seems to have been mostly in charge of Fawcett Publications by the 1930s, so it seems likely that he took the credit but had the staff of one of his movie magazines find the actual factoids. In 1934, though, his brother Gordon graduated college and came into the business. He relocated to Hollywood, and seems to have been given some responsibility for the movie magazines. It's only natural then, I suppose, that the credit on Screen Oddities was eventually handed over to him, on June 14 1937**. That would last less than a year, though. On March 21 1938, the title of the feature was changed to Star Flashes and the Fawcett name was abolished for the remainder of the run. My guess is that the Fawcett family was either no longer interested in supplying material for the feature, or Bell Syndicate decided that some anonymous person in-house could just as easily comb the movie magazines for factoids. Perhaps the name change was because the Fawcetts, being smart businesspeople, had copyrighted the title themselves.
The cartoonist on the feature was not formally credited, though he was allowed to sign his art. The first few weeks of the panel are unsigned, but then the signature "Thompson" begins to appear. Much later, the artist would occasionally sign a full name, "Bruno Thompson."
"Bruno Thompson" last signed the feature on January 30 1937***, and was then replaced by "Bruno", signing with a different style signature. That might seem like no actual change, but then a short while late the signature becomes "Charles Bruno."
What are the chances that the feature was drawn by two cartoonists named Bruno, one the surname, one the given name? Chances seem small, but then they seem even smaller when the art is compared -- I see no noticeable difference between the art of "Charles Bruno" and "Bruno Thompson." But why does artist Bruno change his name? It is a mystery. However, we will learn more tomorrow in Alex Jay's Ink-Slinger Profile, in which his likely real identity is revealed.
Once the Fawcetts relinquished the writing role in the panel, "Charles Bruno" was given a byline. That's the way the feature remained until it was finally dropped by the syndicate on March 13 1943****.
* Source: Tucson Citizen
** Source: Boston Globe
*** Source: Dayton Daily News
**** Source: San Mateo Times, Kingsport News
P'raps I'm mistaken, but didn't "Screen Oddities" start appearing as filler in the earliest comic books? Not as reprints, but new material?
The panels were printed in Famous Fuinnies, but they sure look like colorized daily panels to me.
Sunday, August 08, 2021
Wish You Were Here, from Grace Drayton
Grace Drayton produced quite a few cards for Reinthal & Newman; some under her single name, some under her married name of Weiderseim. The cards are not dated so the best I can do is report that this example was postally used in 1913.
Labels: Wish You Were Here