Monday, September 26, 2022
Obscurity of the Day: Handy Andy
There have been four different comic strip series titled Handy Andy, and today for the third one we've run here as an Obscurity of the Day, we cover the most obscure of them all.
In 1919 the World Color Printing preprint Sunday comic section consisted of two original pages -- full pages of Slim Jim and The Kelly Kids, and two pages of reprints purchased from defunct syndicates. The Kelly Kids was drawn by Charles Kahles, who did not (at that time) take credit for the strip. As 1919 progressed, the art became sloppy on The Kelly Kids, and I'm not even sure if Kahles was still doing it, but dashing it off, or if someone at WCP was trying to ape his work.
Finally, after a few especially awful installments of Kelly Kids, the strip was replaced starting on December 28 1919* with a substitute, a new version of Handy Andy. A very different sort of Handy Andy had appeared in the WCP sections of 1904-05, and then a more similar series ran in 1908-09. The new series sported crisp art by the excellent Jack Wilson, who had done a number of earlier series for NEA, but after that seemed not to be able to find a place to settle down.
The gags are about what you'd expect -- Andy tries to be handy around the house on DIY projects, but ends up making things much worse than they were. The idea isn't original, but certainly the sort of material that people relate to quite well.
Handy Andy was strictly made as a fill-in, though. On April 11 1920 The Kelly Kids made their return (actually announced in the masthead of Handy Andy the previous week) with much reinvigorated art by Kahles. Why did Kahles need three months off? There's a story we'll probably never know.
Thanks to Cole Johnson for the scan.
* Source: I can find no paper that ran the complete WCP section on the last week of 1919 or first week of 1920 for some reason; this start date was determined by using the Arizona Star, which ran the section late but by a known degree.