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.


Yeah, there's not much of an idea here. Artistically, though, the composition shows him thinking grander than before. When did he first do a single stretch panel in the Fight of the Century series?
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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.


This ad of the era also claims the book is 103 pages.
Hello Allan-
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.

Mark -- yes, the sample above is from the Bellingham paper. How many American Reveilles could there be, right?

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.

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Wednesday, December 14, 2022


Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Mac Raboy

Emanuel “Mac” Raboy was born on April 9, 1914, in Manhattan, New York City, according to his World War II draft card. 

The 1915 New York state census said “Max Raboy” was the only child of Isidor and Sarah. They were Manhattan residents at 319 East 13th Street. His father was a hat-maker.

In the 1920 census, “Maxie Raboy” and his parents lived in the Bronx at 618 Prospect Avenue. 

According to the 1925 New York state census, “Emanuel Raboy” and his parents remained in the Bronx at a new address, 1823 Michigan Avenue. 

The Raboy family resided in the Bronx at 3451 Giles Place as recorded in the 1930 census. 

Raboy graduated from DeWitt Clinton High School in 1931. (Who’s Who of American Comic Books 1928–1999 said Raboy attended New York City’s School of Industrial Art, a high school started in 1936.) Raboy had a work in the 1932 Scholastic National High School Art Exhibition. The New York Times, December 24, 1967, said Raboy studied at Pratt Institute and Cooper Union. 

The 1940 census, enumerated on April 12, said Raboy and his wife, Lulu (Morris), lived in the Bronx at 3605 Sedgwick Avenue. He was a commercial artist and she a theatrical dancer. According to the New York, New York Marriage License Index, at, the couple obtained a Bronx marriage license on July 24, 1940. 

On October 16, 1940, Raboy signed his World War II draft card. His address was 2857 Sedgwick Avenue, in the Bronx. Later it was updated to 1848 Guerlain Street in the Bronx. He worked for Harry A Chessler. Raboy’s description was five feet nine inches, 160 pounds, with brown eyes and hair. 

Raboy contributed to Look magazine issues October 19, 1943; November 2, 1943; and April 18, 1944. He illustrated a series of Philadelphia Inquirer advertisements, some of which appeared in Fortune, May 1946 and Advertising Age, October 21, 1946. 

Most of Raboy’s comic book work was produced for Fawcett from 1940 to 1948. The Grand Comics Database has a checklist. He left Fawcett for a syndicate opportunity. A King Features advertisement spread in Editor and Publisher, April 24, 1948, said 
A New and Better “Flash Gordon” Will Be Released in the Near Future
Since 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.
According to American Newspaper Comics (2012), Raboy’s Flash Gordon Sunday page ran from August 1, 1948 to December 17, 1967. He was one of several people to work on the strip. 

The 1950 census said Raboy, his wife, son, David, and daughter Miriam, lived in Lewisboro, New York at 375 Goldens Bridge Colony. Raboy was a self-employed commercial artist. 

Raboy passed away on December 22, 1967, in Mount Kisco, New York. 

Further Reading and Viewing
Comics, Between the Panels (1998)
Scoop: Mac Raboy: The Greatest (Comic Book) Art Ever Created
The Steranko History of Comics 2 (1970) 
Biographical Sketches of Cartoonists & Illustrators in the Swann Collection of the Library of Congress (2012)
13th Dimension: Mac Raboy: Master of the Comics
The Federal Art Project: American Prints from the 1930s in the Collection of the University of Michigan Museum of Art (1985)
Art Institute of Chicago: Barricade; Old Man; Tilling the Soil
Queens Public Library: Pitching Hay
Syracuse University Art Museum: Gathering and cutting chestnuts; Interior; neighbors in conversation; Migratory Workers


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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??


Being historically illiterate, I looked up Father Divine on Wikipedia. A controversial figure, his religious movement boasted considerable resources. Wondering if this barely-a-footnote publication was sponsored in whole or in part to counter more critical press. Perhaps it was primarily aimed at his followers with little circulation beyond, which would help explain why it didn't seem to last beyond some incomplete archives or attract attention from newspaper historians, who might have dismissed it as a house organ. Conceivably it stopped publishing altogether for stretches.

Interesting thought. I confess I had Father Divine mixed up with Father Coughlin, so I had to go read about him. Since he moved his base of operations to Harlem in 1932, he could just have been a subject of interest in 1933 when this paper was published, or, as you say, he was now behind it. He certainly is all over it.
A.J. Liebling's "Profile" of Divine in the New Yorker in 1936 was one of the biggest mainstream examinations of Divine in that era, and I think has been anthologized.
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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.


"John McCutcheon's Book" published by Caxton Club, Chicago, 1948...
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.
Eddie Campbell
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