Saturday, November 19, 2022


Herriman Saturday: May 4 1910


May 4 1910: Everybody, and I do mean EVERYBODY, is in the know about the upcoming Fight of the Century.


Comments: Post a Comment

Friday, November 18, 2022


Obscurity of the Day: Preparedness


Here's a feature whose reason for being is arguably more interesting than the feature itself. 

Thornton Fisher, a mainstay at the New York Evening World in the 1910s, took a break from his usual strip work to create the panel series Preparedness, which debuted on January 31 1916. Reading samples today you may be forgiven if the theme of the panels is anything but apparent. The key, it turns out, are the captions, all of which use militaristic terminology to describe the activity going on in the cartoon. 

In 1916 the U.S. was still sitting out the war in Europe, officially neutral though leaning heavily toward supporting the Allies. The more hawkish contingents in the U.S. were itching to get involved, and they came up with a proposed national policy called 'Preparedness'. The idea as it was put forth was that to keep us safely out of war we need to immediately develop a strong and highly prepared military -- no one would dare attack us or risk our involvement if we are seen as an unbeatable juggernaut. The concept was pure misdirection and everyone knew it, but the notion did catch on as the war in Europe ground on. Even President Wilson, originally a vocal critic of the idea, cozied up to it in 1916, evidently realizing that our involvement was just a matter of time and that we should indeed start getting prepared.  

Okay, so with that in mind, we can reread these panels and see how they all tie together. The day's actors (there were no recurring characters) are in the midst of some sort of crisis, and they are preparing to meet the situation head on and with strength of numbers. The theme is carried through into the captions, where Fisher uses military mumbo-jumbo to drive the theme home. 

Preparedness ran in the Evening World until April 6 1916. 


I was more taken with the "Illustrated Comical Jokes". The title suggests they're lame on purpose, an early example of ironic, almost inside snark. Problem for a modern reader is whether they really were lame compared to the main panel.

"Illustrated Unpopular Songs" leans the same way, the title itself being a clearer gag. The "illustration" being a tiny captioned square is also kind of clever. The verse and the added comment sadly fall short.

Of course, a hundred years from then who'll care?
Post a Comment

Wednesday, November 16, 2022


Firsts and Lasts: The Final Skippy Sunday Page


If you haven't read Jerry Robinson's biography of Percy Crosby (Skippy and Percy Crosby, Holt Rinehart Winston, 1978) you should -- it's one heckuva read describing a cartoonist's life of incredible highs and lows. In 1945 Percy Crosby was already depressed over a divorce, tax problems, the plummeting circulation of his strip, and the reduction of his Sunday from a full page to a lowly half. The final shoe dropped in December of that year when the Skippy comic strip was cancelled outright, a victim not just of lower popularity but of the syndicate being tired of dealing with its mercurial creator. 

Here is the final Skippy Sunday, dated December 2 1945. I've been seeking these late Skippy strips for decades now and finally stumbled across this one recently. It ran in the Ashland Daily Independent.

According to Jerry Robinson, the daily ran one further week, ending on December 8. But Jeffrey Lindenblatt has proven beyond a reasonable doubt that is not so. He documented a half-dozen newspapers that all ended Skippy on November 17. This date actually make s a lot of sense if the syndicate fired Crosby and the strip ended with the material they had on hand. Sundays have a much more involved production process to run through before they see print, so King would have had at least a few more weeks of them than dailies. With that in mind, I have changed my end date for the Skippy daily based on Lindenblatt's proof.


Comments: Post a Comment

Monday, November 14, 2022


Obscurity of the Day: Maiden Meditations


Among the women cartoonists of the earlier part of the 20th century, Sara Moore (aka Sara Moore Eastman) stood out for not having what I would call a 'frilly' or feminine style. She was a darn fine cartoonist/illustrator, and although her subjects were often touching on that female cartoonist staple, romance, I think she rose above the sterotypical material. What she lacked, though, was the instantly recognizeable style of the top echelon of her sorority. Although she had a long and prolific career, she never became a household name by any means. She even stayed under the radar to cartooning historian Trina Robbins, not rating a mention in any of her books on women cartoonists. 

Moore created several newspaper series over a span of three decades, including some that involved just as much writing as art. We're going to look at her latest known cartooning work today, the feature Maiden Meditations that she penned for the Chicago Tribune from December 27 1925 to March 27 1932. The weekly half-page feature, usually consisting of several vignettes, mostly hits the subjects of romance and fashion with cheesecake drawings for the fellas. Although the feature was offered in syndication, it is rarely found outside the pages of its home paper. 

As best I can tell Sara Moore retired after this feature ended, but it wasn't because she was elderly. Although I don't have a birth year, she died in 1969, some thirty-seven years after Maiden Meditations ended.


I have a Sarah Moore, per Editor & Publisher in 1913 - likely to be the same one? I have no images to share, unfortunately. My entry for Sarah Moore: In 1913, while working for the Detroit News, she contributed a drawing to a national cartoon compilation of autographed sketches, begun in 1904 and possessed by James D. Preston, Superintendent of the Senate Press Gallery.

Info from: “Unique Cartoon Book,” Editor and Publisher, May 10, 1913, p. 15

Sara W. Duke, Curator, Popular & Applied Graphic Art, Prints & Photographs Division, Library of Congress

Probably, I recall a Detroit connection. She was already nationally syndicated by this time, starting in 1911.
Post a Comment

Sunday, November 13, 2022


Wish You Were Here, from Dave Breger


Here's a Private Breger card, Graycraft #306. Usually I find these postally unused, but this one went through the mails in 1944. It has quite a message on the reverse:

Two-in-One witch overzealous to read leaves finishes job on pa's lid. Stickum is useless. Prices in sewer. Don't let two-in-one witch forget this. 

  --- The Three Cupids

Did I just uncover some Axis plot that was organized via Private Breger postcards?


What a profound,inspiring message. I think we'll all be better for it.
The original date this panel ran was 29 December 1942, while Breger was still stationed "Somewhere in Britain."
"Did I just uncover some Axis plot that was organized via Private Breger postcards?" Ha. That makes more sense than anything I can come up with.
Hi Alan, what is the actual post date on the card? You might not be too far wrong if it is dated around June or a little after. If you are able to post the back, it would fascinating to see.
The card was postmarked on November 8, sent between Moscow and Lewiston Idaho.
Post a Comment

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Subscribe to
Posts [Atom]