Saturday, December 17, 2022
Herriman Saturday: May 10 1910
May 10 1910 -- Herriman is scraping the bottom of the barrel, looking for something profound to say about the upcoming Fight of thre Century. The eagle of destiny is flying forth from Jeffries' camp, Rowardennan, and fight fans are desperately trying to read the future that it will bring. Okay, George.
Labels: Herriman's LA Examiner Cartoons
Friday, December 16, 2022
Obscurity of the Day: Brownie Clown of Brownie Town
Palmer Cox is not one of the fathers of newspaper comics, but he certainly is a step-father. His famous Brownies characters are actually the first to appear regularly in a colored newspaper supplement -- yes, pre-dating the Yellow Kid and even the Ting-Lings! That's a bit of a bomb to drop here, and I promise one of these days I will get around to writing a post about it.
Cox drew his famed Brownies for Saint Nicholas magazine, and published a number of books of their escapades. His work for newspapers early on was limited to series which evidently served as marketing for those books. However, in 1907-08 Cox penned a newspaper strip series that was made up of new material, and only appeared in book form after the conclusion of the series.
The series was Brownie Clown of Brownie Town, and I am told that it is the first time that Cox opted to use word balloons in addition to his customary rhyming captions -- a sure sign that he was trying to keep up with the times.
The Sunday strip debuted on March 17 1907* and I cannot figure out who syndicated it. It might have been Cox's publisher, the Century Company, or it might be a regular newspaper syndicate. Normally to figure that out I look at what tended to appear in the same comic sections with a feature like this, but in that case this method leads me to believe it was syndicated by World Color Printing, because all but one of the strips in my own collection are World Color in the rest of the section. But I just don't think WCP, a readyprint syndicate mostly used by lesser papers, had the marketing clout to merit being chosen to distribute the strip.
The strip gives kids all their favorite Brownie characters, and focuses on the Brownie Clown -- not being a Brownie fan, I'm afraid I don't know if this is a new character to the series. He looks like an established character, but a flip through of a few Brownies books leaves me without an earlier reference to a character by that name -- oddly, Cox rarely refers to them by name.
As popular as the Brownies were (perhaps waning just a bit by 1907?), newspapers seldom seem to have stuck around for the whole series. Perhaps because so many papers started it late, many still had a backlog when they learned a book version was about to be published. Would that have encouraged them or discouraged them from running the strip? I dunno. Maybe the Century Company required that the strip end in newspapers well before the publication date, thinking people wouldn't buy what they could get in their Sunday paper?
In any case, I think the series ended on March 1 1908**, but I don't have any paper that ran the whole series, so that's an estimate. The Boston Post, my earliest start, may have run the whole thing (they did run it through the end of 1907) but the microfilm for 1908 was missing.
The book version was published in September 1908. According to Worldcat it is 103 pages (huh?), so if we assume that means about 48-50 strips, printed two pages to a Sunday, we're pretty close. An actual perusal of the book would be very helpful, but I'm afraid I don't have a spare $1000 to invest in that little research expedition.
* Source: Boston Post; many papers started the series late.
** Source: Washington Evening Star.
Cox was a cartoonist super star for many years; I have one of his children's books from the 1880s, "Queery Queers with wings, tails and claws" (that was one of my grandfather's as a kid)so he'd been around a long time. By 1907 everybody knew him and the Brownies. When the "Brownie" camera came out in the 1890s, it seemed the Brownies that tumbled around it in the ads just were an anonymous mob.,so the Brownie Clown" seems to be devised for the series.
I have seen this series in several papers, among them the Detroit Free Press. It sure looks like a smaller or self-syndicated item. Is the "American-Reveille" from Bellingham, Washington?
The Brownies had made an earlier foray into stripdom, in 1903 they had a series where they I believe, had an adventure in the Phillipines. Can't recall much about it. What syndicate it was just doesn't come to mind.
Cox did the 1903 Phillipines series, but also a an 1898-99 series. Both were based on books, and presumably offered by the publisher (Century). The 1903 series seems to have been syndicated via the New York Herald, the distributor of the 1898-99 series is not as clearcut.
But the series I referred to starring the Brownies is much earlier; not even a spark of interest out there? Harrumph.
Wednesday, December 14, 2022
Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Mac Raboy
A New and Better “Flash Gordon” Will Be Released in the Near FutureSince 1933, Flash Gordon has set the pace for adventure pages. It has always boasted the most vivid drawing, the most imaginative setting, the most pulsating, futuristic continuity. Now, under the facile pen of Mac Raboy, Flash Gordon will soar through boundless solar space on new adventure that promises to grip every reader’s imagination.
Labels: Ink-Slinger Profiles
Monday, December 12, 2022
Mystery Strips: Whatta Life and Kampus Keeds
Winter is coming on and that means outside projects finally get put on hold and the Stripper gets to spend a lot more time in his archives. And what work awaits him there? Giant teetering piles that must be put under control, itemized, categorized, inventoried and put to bed in their rightful places. And what that means is that he turns up mysteries at a fair clip.
Today that mystery goes beyond a comic strip, it started out as a whole doggone newspaper. What I have here is the May 6 1933 edition of the New York News. Nothing mysterious about that, you say? Nah, I didn't say Daily News, just News. It's a black newspaper published out of New York City, a city that already had a black "News" paper -- the Amsterdam News. At first I wondered if the Amsterdam News experimented with this as a new name, but no dice there. Finally I found a slight mention of a paper called the New York News and Harlem Home Journal on WorldCat, but the listing offers no information except that it was published in the 1910s-30s. Jumping to my books on black journalism history, I find that not one of them mentions this paper, at least as far as the indexes are concerned. Jumping over to the Library of Congress listings, I learned that there are only two reels of microfilm for the paper known to exist, partial years from 1921 and 1927. Now that's what I call a newspaper that flew beneath the radar.
So here's the front page headline area and the indicia, plus a snippet of a tirade against other black papers below the indicia.
Okay, so the newspaper is no longer a complete mystery, just very, very obscure. Why do we care? Naturally I wouldn't be beating my typing fingers to the bone here if there weren't comics somewhere in this story. And yes there are, in fact two of them. This issue include strips of Kampus Keeds and Whatta Life, both by a Lucille Fitzgerald. Being 1933, and assuming that Lucille was African-American, she would be the very first known published black female cartoonist, pre-dating Jackie Ormes by four years.
The only problem for me is that I'd love to put these strips in my database, but with only one sample of each I have no proof they were series. I know this is a real longshot, but any help out there??
Labels: Mystery Strips
Sunday, December 11, 2022
Wish You Were Here, from John T. McCutcheon
It's taken a long while for Wish You Were Here to get around to a John T. McCutcheon postcard, but that's because he only did the one series (as far as I know) and they're on the scarce side. This card is number 30 in the series, highest number I recall seeing. The manufacturer was uncredited. Each card had a headline, "A Boy In..." and usually the last word was a season of the year, though not always. These cards were copyrighted in 1903, but may have been reprinted for awhile, because the ones I have are divided backs (1907 or later) and the postally used ones are all from 1908. Or maybe McCutcheon's cartoons were selected from his Bird Center series for the Chicago Tribune, which ran in 1903-04.
Labels: Wish You Were Here
shows set of 32 "A Boy's Life" cards (of which above is one) in grey halftone over four pages, eight to a page. All are cartoons from the Chicago Record and then the Tribune when he moved over. Originals were in black and white and these are in color. Don't know if he did the color himself."Bird Center Etiquette" was a parlor game that came in a box. Same book shows all the cards displayed over a spread. I count 48. Each one is a character from the series and these may have been drawn specially for the game. I presume they were also in color.