Saturday, September 24, 2022


Herriman Saturday: April 27 1910



April 27 1910 -- You know it's a slow news day when a story about a stray cow gets two columns and a cartoon by Herriman. And that's all this story boils down to. Mr. P.A. Lord of Pasadena owns a dairy cow. The cow busted out of its pasture, so he and some friends searched around for the cow. When found, the Lords brought the cow home in their Studebaker because they don't own a wagon. End of story.


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Friday, September 23, 2022


Obscurity of the Day: Pokémon


Sometimes pop culture phenomena can make the transition to the newspaper comcs page, sometimes they can't ... but mostly they can't. The problem is that the fan bases for Teemage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Rugrats, Masters of the Universe, and so on, though large, are not really so very large to form a substantial bloc of potential newspaper readers. While some newspaper feature editors inevitably get snookered into the hokum that if they run strip X they'll suddenly experience a measurable bump in subscriptions, that rarely if ever actually happens. 

Problem two is that in the midst of a pop culture phenomenon, the creative personnel involved in driving that engine tend to be stretched so thin that a newspaper strip gets the dregs of that creative juice. There is just not so much money to be made with a newspaper strip that a corporate property like Pokémon can expend limited resources on it. They are way too busy catering to their fan base in ways that are the real cash cows -- toys, books, movies, etc. 

Problem three is that the creative team on these newspaper features is faced with a practically  unsolvable dilemma -- you can please the fan base, or you can try to appeal to the general newspaper readership. 99% of newspaper readers know exactly nothing about Pokémon, but if you try to pull them in by explaining the concept over and over, or ignore the mechanics of Pokémon and just do gags about weird little creatures, you will catch holy hell from the fans. There are few things that fans hate more than having the object of their affection diluted and made palatable to the non-fans. 

So where does the Pokémon newspaper strip fall into the pitfalls described above? Well, not knowing anything about Pokémon, I wouldn't presume to guess (your opinions are more than welcome). But what I do know is that the Sunday and daily strip came and went so fast it practically left skid marks in the few newspapers that tried carrying it. The strip debuted on September 10 2000, and bowed out on March 30 2001*, just a little over six months. The feature was credited to Gerard Jones (writer) and Ashura Benimaru (art).

* Sources: Viz Communications press release, reprint book "Pikachu Meets The Press". A Pokémon fan site claims the strip ran for a year, but have found no evidence of a longer existence.


Today is also Nintendo's anniversary, having formed on this day 133 years ago (!!!) as a playing card company. Is that why you ran this strip today? (Also, everyone knows you can't capture a Pokémon that already belongs to another trainer!)
Merely a happy coincidence. Beyond the Christmas strip every year, I'm hopeless at observing anniversaries, holidays, special events on the blog. --Allan
I think that Rugrats lent itself very well to the newspaper funnies. One didn’t have to watch Rugrats to get the comic strip. And with the long history of comics about children, it fit in well. Lasted 5 years from mid-98 to mid-03.
I remember the "Rugrats" comic strip well. It ran in my local paper (Memphis Commercial Appeal), probably to the end.

It's still in reruns in very few papers, believe it or not. I was surprised when I saw it back in 2018 or 2019 while on a trip.
@Brubaker Yeah, you can view it at the Creators website. They also published a near-complete collection of the strips 3 years ago. There were about 8 different artists, some terrible, some really good.
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Wednesday, September 21, 2022


News of Yore 1925: J.R. Williams Will Spend More Time Out Our Way



J.R. Williams burst from obscurity onto hundreds, maybe even thousands, of newspapers in 1922 with his daily Out Our Way panel, syndicated by the ubiquitous blanket service syndicate, NEA. It's hard to believe that the creator of a three year old feature could make headline news simply by signing his next contract, but such was the instant popularity of Out Our Way. Of course it didn't hurt that NEA supplied the promo piece with the rest of their service, but still, editors had to make the decision to actually run it, and quite a few did. 

This piece ran in the October 23 1925 edition of the Dubuque Times-Journal, but a digital search finds it running in lots of other venues, from New Jersey to Alabama, Louisiana to Washington state. 


In the 1920s-30s,NEA would often put in puffy little space fillers to promote their strips right on the proof sheets sent to clients, others about Williams accentuate his cowboy origins, with him decked out in western regalia.
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Monday, September 19, 2022


Obscurity of the Day: Mrs. Worry


When C.A. Voight moved to the New York Evening Globe in 1910, he brought along his best strip from the Boston Traveler, Gink and Dink, and created additional new strips to run in tandem with it. One of them was Mrs. Worry, about a ... well, you can guess the subject matter I suppose. 

Mrs. Worry started on December 12 1910*, but didn't last long there because Voight promptly jumped ship to the New York Evening Mail mere months later. His last Mrs. Worry appeared in the Globe on January 3 1911, and appeared in the Mail starting on March 27. 

It continued running in tandem with Gink and Dink and Voight's other strips  until early 1914, when Voight changed gears and decided to put all his eggs in one basket, with the quasi-new strip, Petey Dink. The last Mrs. Worry installment appeared on June 27 1914. But by then he'd tried playing around with the formula a bit, and the title had been Ishood Worry since May 16 1914.

* Source: All dates from Jeffrey Lindenblatt's index of the New York Mail and New York Globe.

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Sunday, September 18, 2022


Wish You Were Here, from Albert Carmichael


Here is a card from one of Carmichael's lesser seen series, titled "Why", or series 310, issued in 1910. No cards from this series that I've seen indicate the manufacturer. If I had to guess, though, I'd put my money (but not much of it) on Samson Brothers, only because Carmichael's cards for them are styled a bit similarly. 

I can't decide if this fellow is wearing a monocle, or if he has a bargain basement glass eye (75% off because it's way too big and we forgot to draw on a pupil and iris!).


It's notable (to me) that Carmichael's signature seems to be in imitation of McManus's famous one. Or am I beiing unfair?
You'll find my take on that issue here:
Me, I'd say that was a monocle, since it was virtually a trademark of the "masher" to have one.
Also seen is Carmichael's usual grasp of perspective is shown here, the gal and the dog seeingly defying gravity. Nice left arm on her, too.
He might be aping George McManus's signature, but his technique is pure Charles McManus.
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