Monday, September 18, 2023


Obscurity of the Day: Foolish Ferdinand


William F. Marriner's output was prodigious, and an amazingly high percentage of it was just like today's obscurity, Foolish Ferdinand; playful strips about kids getting up to relatively innocent shenanigans. Marriner's giant-headed kids are a breath of fresh air for comics sections in which the typical kid comic strip star was rotten to the core and more dangerous than an angry badger. 

For the Philadelphia Inquirer Marriner penned this long-running series, Foolish Ferdinand, off and on from December 29 1901 to February 21 1904. Sometimes a longer title was used, The Fortunes of Foolish Ferdinand, and the series was quite scattershot in its appearances as Marriner often turned out one-shots instead for that Sunday section.

Thanks to Cole Johnson for the scan.


How dangerous is an angry badger, really?
Good for you having something better to do with your time than watch honey badger videos:

Most fearless, badass animal on Earth.
Hello Allan-
Cole assumed the Inquirer might have started syndicating their material sometime in 1903, when they started putting things in regular size categories. Obviously the above sample would have only appeared in the Inky, but also at some time, Ferdinand would have been in client papers.
What are your thoughts on when they went national?
Mark, I haven't done any kind of study of that question, so I just took a perusal of my collection, which is practically bereft of early Inky material, syndicated or in the home paper. I assume that around Philly where you are those early sections are as common as cheese steak sandwiches. Anyhow, my earliest Inky strips appearing outside Philly are from 1905, and were syndicated to the Boston Herald at that time. But given the thinness of my collection on this issue, I wouldn't for a moment take that as being any kind of proof. Do you recall what papers ran the Inky stuff circa 1903? --- Allan
Actually I don't know of any- I might be right in assuming the St.Louis Globe-Democrat had it as early as 1904, The Los Angeles Herald in 1905, but I don't know if Cole had any actual incidents of syndication in 1903.

The last Inquirer offering that was a full page was 28 September 1902. Henceforth, to the day they closed the doors on the project, all Inky strips are the rigid,uniform half-pagers that they were always to be seen in for the next twenty-odd years.
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