Thursday, May 11, 2023


Comics of the Paramount News Feature Service: All the Rest

 We've now covered all the longest running strips from PNF, but there were others. Some of these outliers we've documented to run at the beginnings of the syndicate, in summer 1927, others have been documented running at the supposed end, in summer - fall 1928. One thing is certain -- the running dates we can cite for them are merely those we've found in the vanishingly few papers documented to have run the syndicate, and it is safe to say that those dates we've documented are not the last word. 

My wild guess is that the strips we'll discuss today were probably all originally produced and originally distributed at the beginning of the syndicate's short lifespan. Why the syndicate would have lost a whole crop of strips after a short run I have no idea, and that problem may mean that I'm totally wrong. Or maybe these strips are actually part at the beginning and part at the end -- a few creators dropping out after seeing that the syndicate was not a paying proposition, and others coming in at the end trying to save the sinking ship. 

An odd feature of these strips is that they did not appear in the later reprint era. Maybe there were just too few episodes to bother, I dunno. Many of the strips at the end of the run may have actually been in the first reprint run -- most of them can be found with that mysterious Rialto N.F. syndicate stamp.

So for what it's worth, here are the rest of the PNF strips. For some I cannot even offer you samples; they were documented years ago on microfilm where photocopies were not available. 

Big Benny

This strip is documented by Jeffrey Lindenblatt to have run July 22 to August 19 1927 in an unknown paper. That's a mere five week run, but we do actually have four very blurry samples, rerun in 1928 with that Rialto N.F. stamp. The strip is about a boxer and his manager, and was credited to someone named "Burchit". Despite the unusual name, I cannot find any other trace of this artist:

Fat Burns

Documented by Jeffrey Lindenblatt to have run July 22 to September 9 1927, this one is by Frank Ward, which makes me wonder if this is the same person as Jack Ward of Flaming Youth (or a brother?). Here is the only sample I've been able to track down:

Hard-Hearted Hanna

This strip can only be documented at the end of the syndicate's life, running from July 19 to September 6 1928 in the Philadelphia Tribune. This strip is credited to Frank Little, also of the Flaming Youth strip; why our sample strip, a 1930 reprint, is credited to "St. Elmor" I have no idea. This is the only sample I could dig up which is one of the rare examples where the characters were shaded to appear black, for publication in a black paper::

Jo-Jo The Hop

Here's a strip with a title that would have raised eyebrows. A 'hop' or 'hophead' was slang for a drug addict. However, our strip is about a hotel bellhop, also known (I gather) by the shorter term 'hop'. Jeffrey Lindenblatt found this one running at the beginning of the syndicate, from July 22 to August 19 1927. The creator, who is only known as 'Howard', is probably the best artist at the syndicate. His work seems to be inspired by Rea Irvin or Gluyas Williams, and you can't go far wrong with them as your inspiration!


This strip was discussed in the post about The Gang, as a possible part of that series. But it is by a different creator, has a different look, and other than having the main character named Mickey, really no particular resemblance. For that reason, I generally assume it is a separate series. Jeffrey Lindenblatt documented a run of just three weeks, from August 26 to September 9 1927, with a byline to 'Ned'. I, on the other hand, can find the two samples shown below, but they are credited to Dick Kennedy. Which makes for an even more tangled web, because we know of a different series by Dick Kennedy, The Whole Dam Family:

Spike and Sam

And now we come to the dregs of the PNF, strips for which I can offer not even a single bad microfilm copy. Spike and Sam was documented only at the end of the syndicate's life, running July 12 to September 6 1928 in the Philadelphia Tribune. It was credited to Frank Little, who also worked on Hard-Hearted Hanna and Flaming Youth

Sweet Adeline

This one was documented by Jeffrey Lindenblatt, running September 16 to November 30 1927, but missing a significant number of weeks during that run. It's another Frank Little strip. 

The Whole Dam Family

Not surprising that it's hard to find this one in many papers; the gag of a family with the surname 'Dam' is off-colour adjacent, and was already a very old gag by the mid-20s. This one was credited to Dick Kennedy. Jeffrey Lindenblatt documented this one running August 26 to September 9 1927, just three strips. 


And that about does it for the Paramount News Feature Service. Just another in the long list of hole-in-the-wall syndicates that was born with the certainty that weekly papers were underserved and constitiuted a cash cow just waiting for a smart entrepreneur to milk it. 

It goes without saying -- but I'll say it anyway -- if you find any run of PNF material or other records that add to our information on this syndicate, we'd love to hear from you!


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