Saturday, November 05, 2022
Herriman Saturday: May 3 1910
May 3 1910: Yet another gag based on the upcoming Fight of the Century. This one features a character never yet seen in real life: the bookie who will give money back.
Friday, November 04, 2022
Obscurity of the Day: Hapless Towser
Hapless Towser was a short-lived strip about a dog who can't catch a break; it ran in the New York Herald Sunday comics section from January 26* to April 13 1902**. The creator signed himself Ollendorff.
At the time I was putting together my book, American Newspaper Comics, I weighed whether I was willing to assume this was Julian Ollendorff, an accomplished cartoonist who has series credits in the 1930s-40s. At the time I thought of that lengthy missing span of years and decided that chances were against it. I ended up listing the creator of this strip as just Ollendorff.
But now that Alex Jay has done the legwork to do Julian's Ink-Slinger Profile, I can be pretty confident that the wet-behind-the-ears 20-year old did actually produce this strip. Ollendorff is on record saying that he was working at the New York World as early as about 1901, and so it's no long-shot that he was shopping his wares around to other Big Apple papers at that time.
The art on Hapless Towser is a bit rough but it's easy to see that there's a wonderful cartoonist just at the cusp of mastering his trade. After this lone series Ollendorff would explore other venues for his art, mostly illustration and fashion work, for almost thirty years. Once he finally came back to the fold it was as an accomplished and confident cartoonist, producing wonderful series like Gloria and Olly of the Movies.
* Source: Author's collection.
** Source: Ken Barker's New York Herald index.
I'm confused, you credit this to the New York Tribune, and Barker having a Tribune index, but I didn't think they had any comics that early, and the example shown has a Herald identia. Do you mean Herald all along?
Wednesday, November 02, 2022
Toppers: "Good Deed" Dotty
The comic strip Dixie Dugan began in 1929 under the title Showgirl, and, just like the magazine serial and Broadway show from which the name came, it starred a heroine who looked like the breathtakingly beautiful young starlet Louise Brooks. In the beginning, the strip was about a beautiful young would-be star, her forays into the entertainment biz and her many ardent beaus. Art was provided by the team of J.P. McEvoy (writer) and John H. Striebel (art). Both men were holdovers from the original appearance of Showgirl as a magazine serial, which was the source of the Broadway play.
While the well-known creators, the Louise Brooks connection and the media-tie-in sold a lot of papers on the strip, for some reason, maybe the onset of the Great Depression, the strip took a a major change in direction. Dixie lost her showgirl ambitions and concentrated on earning a conventional living, and her looks were toned down so that she was attractive but in a much more girl-next-door style. She became quite family-oriented and earnest, almost to the point of being priggish.
The newly conservative Dixie seemed to be just fine with readers, and a popular Sunday page was added on February 5 1933*. Along with the new Sunday came a one-tier topper strip called "Good Deed" Dotty (yes, complete with self-conscious quotes).
In each strip little girl Dotty searches for some good turn she can do, and when she does one she writes it down in her booklet of, yes, "Good Deeds". Her good deeds are humorous but they are all, indeed, truly good deeds -- the example above is the tone set throughout the series.
The strip was often pantomime, which was a favorite form for John Striebel. Before Dixie Dugan he had a wonderful strip feature titled Pantomime which ran for three years. That makes me wonder if the topper was his baby, and that McEvoy wasn't involved.
"Good Deed" Dotty was the only topper Dixie Dugan ever had, and it was dropped on October 17 1948**. From then on Dixie had the page to herself.
* Source: Milwaukee Journal.
** Source: Chicago Sun-Times.
Labels: Topper Features
Monday, October 31, 2022
Halloween Obscurity of the Day: Homer
Homer may have been a ghost, but he seldom inspired fear. His particular brand of haunting behavior was to play mild practical jokes, more lilely to inspire grins than screams. In fact, some of his tricks are beneficial, like warning movie-goers about a stinker of a film before they waste their money (above). Homer could even on occasion be downright prudish -- he had a penchant for slap-on-the-wrist punishments for even mildly bad behavior.
Ray Thompson was repsonsible for Homer, a pantomime single-panel daily that debuted on July 2 1945* through the auspices of the New York Tribune syndicate. Papers that signed up often improved the title of the feature by renaming it Homer the Invisible, Hauntin' Homer, or Homer Did It. Thompson was a journeyman cartoonist who had a few of his own features in the 20s and thirties, collaborated as writer on Myra North Special Nurse and ghosted Somebody's Stenog for awhile.
Homer had some high-profile newspaper clients, but evidently not enough to make Thompson or his syndicate happy. The panel feature was exorcised from newspapers on August 30 1947**, just a little more than a two year run.
Later Thompson apparently found employment as cartoonist on bubble-gum comics The Dubble Bubble Kids, and then as a writer of non-fiction.
* Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
** Source: Oakland Tribune
Sunday, October 30, 2022
Wish You Were Here, from Dwig
Here is a Valentine's Day postcard from Dwig. It was published by Samuel Gabriel & Sons. We've seen a few of their Dwig Valentine cards before, but they were coded as series 402. This card is from series 403, so, apparently the previous series sold quite well and they decided to add more?
This card sports a faux wood frame effect obviously intended to make it look like a Tuck card -- sort of the Cadillac of postcards -- but they didn't go so far as to splurge on the metallic ink like Tuck usually did.
Labels: Wish You Were Here