Saturday, August 13, 2022


Herriman Saturday: April 17 1910


April 17 1910 -- It's 1910, and that means Halley's Comet is on the way! Admonitions from the more cool-headed astronomers are constant that the comet will be practically invisible to those without professional telescopes until May. But that doesn't slow anyone down, since the whole world is champing at the bit to see the comet, and there are those who seek notoriety for early sightings. Some 'astronomers', and I use the term loosely, are crowing that the comet has lost its tail, when in fact they simply don't have telescopes that are capable of seeing it yet. Herriman offers a few rigorously scientific explanations for the loss of the tail.


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Friday, August 12, 2022


Obscurity of the Day: Men and Women


The 1970s was a decade in which neuroses were all the rage, and British cartoonist Mel Calman by all accounts had 'em by the bushel. That made him a perfect fit for writing and drawing cartoons about angst-ridden people, and his work in that vein went over quite well with the Brits. 

Field Newspaper Syndicate thought that his cartoons would go over big with the American public, too, but it was not to be. His panel created for them was titled Men And Women, and it debuted on our side of the pond on March 8 1976* to a lukewarm reception (claims of 300 client papers are patently ridiculous). Six months after its debut it would gain the competition of the new strip Inside Woody Allen, a neuro-fest offering editors one of the biggest names in comedy. That pretty much doomed Men and Women to also-ran status, but Field gamely continued to offer it for six years, outlasting even the navel-gazing 1970s themselves. The series ended on April 19 1982*.

Calman was not used to the grind of a daily cartoon panel, and had this to say about how he felt by the end of the run, "I had cannibalised every scrap of an idea from my filing cabinet, and my extensive researches into marital strife were wearing me out." 

It is unclear to me if Men and Women was also published as a daily cartoon in England -- some sources seem to say yes, some say no. And one source says that at least selections from the American cartoon were offered in a British reprint book, but I do not know which one (Calman has an extensive bibliography). Anyone?

* Source: Dates from Dave Strickler based on Los Angeles Times.


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Wednesday, August 10, 2022


Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Ed Reed

Claude Edwin “Ed” Reed was born on December 13, 1907, in Fort Towson, Oklahoma, according to his World War II draft card. 

In the 1920 U.S. Federal Census, Reed was in the household of an uncle, Thomas J. Record, in Paris, Texas at 146 South 22. The fate of Reed’s parents is not known.

Reed attended Paris High School where he graduated in 1925. He produced eleven illustrations for the 1925 school yearbook, The Owl. Reed was sports editor of the school newspaper, Hi Hoots

The Quill, November 1937, profiled Reed and said

… After Ed had finished high school in Paris he studied at the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts. In 1929 he began to his sketches to the New Yorker, Life, and Judge. He contributed to the mid-depression torrent of comic magazines and their success. He lived a sort of gag-to-mouth existence, some weeks finding many of his ideas accepted, others none.

Reed estimates that between 1930 and 1934 he lived on an average of less than $7.50 per week. Much of this was eaten up in buying drawing materials for more submissions. He became an avid reader of newspaper classified advertising sections, and today turns to classified out of habit rather than out of need for a new job.

In 1934 he began drawing his daily square three times each week for the Dallas Journal, and its syndication, on a daily basis, was begun some months later by the Register and Tribune Syndicate of Des Moines, Iowa. …

… Those who knew Ed Reed when he came to Des Moines in 1934 with nothing but a big ambition and a bright new quarter, say that success has changed him not at all. He’s the same hardworking, sincere, appreciative lad he was then. He puts his money in the bank for the stormy day he hopes will never come. He is like a schoolboy with a new nickel every time he gets a fan letter (and he answers every one of them).
American Newspaper Comics (2012) said Reed’s Off the Record panel debuted November 19, 1934. 

Reed has not yet been found in the 1930 census. 

On December 28, 1936, Reed and Mary Anne Cullum were married in Dallas, Texas. The Des Moines Tribune (Iowa), December 28, 1936, reported the marriage. 
Ed Reed and Mary Cullum Marry Today 
Couple Wed in Dallas in Bride’s Home.
The marriage of Miss Mary Anne Cullum, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. A. Earl Cullum of Dallas, Tex. and Ed Reed of Des Moines, formerly of Dallas, is taking place Monday afternoon at the Cullum home. Only members of the immediate families are witnessing the ceremony being performed by the Rev. Jasper Manton, pastor of Trinity Presbyterian church and a boyhood friend of Mr. Reed. The couple will leave immediately for Des Moines. The bride has been a member of the amusements department staff of the Dallas News and Journal. She is a former student of the University of Texas and a graduate of Radcliffe college. Mr. Reed draws Off The Record cartoons. He was graduated from high school in Paris, Tex., and attended the Academy of Fine Arts in Chicago. He and his bride will reside in the Cortez apartments. 
Editor and Publisher, January 16, 1937, published a photograph of the newlyweds. 

The 1940 census recorded Reed and his wife in the household of his father-in-law, A.E. Cullum. They resided in Dallas. 

On October 16, 1940, Reed signed his World War II draft card. His address was 3623 Overbrook Drive in Dallas. Reed’s employer was the Register and Tribune Syndicate. His description was five feet eleven inches, 195 pounds, with brown eyes and hair. 

The Paris News (Texas), December 17, 1990, said Reed moved to "London, England, in 1958. In 1960, he bought a 400-year-old home, Hawstead House, in the village of Broadway (England’s equivalent of Greenwich Village)”. Cartoonist Profiles #37, March 1978, printed two photographs of Reed at home and four Off the Record cartoons. 

Reed passed away on October 7, 1990, in Cheltenham, England. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram (Texas), October 11, 1990, published an obituary. 
Ed Reed, a retired nationally syndicated cartoonist, died of leukemia Sunday at a hospital in Cheltenham, England. He was 82. During the 1940s Mr. Reed was a cartoonist for the now-defunct Dallas Journal. He was syndicated in more than 400 newspapers across the United States and Europe. Off the Record and Three Bares were two of Mr. Reed’s many cartoons. Mr. Reed was a native of Paris and earned an art degree from the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts. He started at the Journal after college. He retired during the mid-1980s and moved to Europe. Funeral: Monday at St. Saviour’s Catholic church in Broadway, England Survivor: Wife Mary Anne Reed of Broadway. 
Reed was remembered in the Paris News, December 17, 1990. 

Further Reading and Viewing
Cartoon Success Secrets: A Tribute to Thirty Years of Cartoonist Profiles, Philip Hurd and Ed Reed photograph
Look, December 7, 1937,  Off the Record with Ed Reed 
Feature Funnies #19, April 1939
Feature Comics #24, September 1939 
Feature Comics #25, October 1939 
Feature Comics #29, February 1940 
Crack Comics #1, May 1940 
Crack Comics #3, July 1940 
Crack Comics #9, January 1941 


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Monday, August 08, 2022


Obscurity of the Day: Jobs of Sorghum Shortcake


Here's one from that wild and wacky back page of the Chicago Daily News, a daily page full of comics and gags when that wasn't even a thing yet. In 1906-07, the bullpen was home to someone who signed himself 'James'; he was a pretty good cartoonist, and he originated three different series during his brief tenure. Unfortunately I've never figured out what his full name might be.

One of those series was Jobs of Sorghum Shortcake (aka Li'l Sorghum), in which a black kid loses job after job due to an insatiable curiosity which lands him in hot water. This series ran sporadically from November 16 1906 to April 6 1907. It was 'James' last series. 

The second example is interesting in that it shows an odd affectation that was pretty common among the Daily News crew of those days. Word balloons were sparsely used, perhaps because the strips were printed awfully small, but when they were you'd often see the text underneath giving a whole different speech to the same character. It's odd and a little jarring to a modern reader.


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Sunday, August 07, 2022


Wish You Were Here, from Albert Carmichael


Another Albert Carmichael postcard, this one from Taylor Pratt & Co series 568. This is one of the few from that series where a single gal is featured in the lonely spot. 

This card was postally used in 1910 (issued in 1909), and it was sent from one girlfriend to another -- apparently unattached as the sender added the caption "Such is Life" on the front.


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