Saturday, February 11, 2023
Herriman Saturday: May 15 1910
May 15 1910 -- If there's one thing even funnier than people doing stupid things, it's RICH people doing stupid things. The California Club is apparently still in operation, and still very exclusive; only the rich need apply, and then only if they have an introduction from another rich person who is already a member.
Labels: Herriman's LA Examiner Cartoons
Friday, February 10, 2023
Obscurity of the Day: Future Shock
I am always impressed by successfully self-syndicated comics, whether or not I actually like the comic itself. When I think of the amount of effort involved, both creative drive and business ability, it boggles my mind. Future Shock is both impressive and a fun read to boot. The daily panel and Sunday strip looked to modern living and the future for its gags, using no recurring characters. Jim McGreal handled art while his brother Pat took on the writing chores. No word on who made the all-important sales calls and sent proofs to client papers.
According to the strip's Wikipedia page the first client they signed up in September 2009 was the Chicago Villager. Unfortunately I can find no trace of a paper by that name, but I do have the feature starting just slightly later in the Pasadena Star-News, on October 12 2009. Apparently the McGreals continued accruing other clients here and there, but it wasn't until the end of 2012 that they scored the comic strip equivalent of a TD in the Super Bowl when their Sunday debuted in the Chicago Tribune. Unfortunately that gig did not last long; they lost their spot to Brewster Rockit: Space Guy on November 3 2013. Meanwhile their daily panel also seems to have sputtered out; the last place I can find it running is the Helena Independent Record on June 15 2013.
While this is the last evidence I can find for Future Shock in print, the McGreals still have a Future Shock website in which the likely fiction of a currently produced comic is maintained.
I tried to contact the McGreals a few times seeking more information about Future Shock but never received a response. Would still love to get definitive start and end dates for the feature, though!
Wednesday, February 08, 2023
Belated Christmas Greetings from Karl Hubenthal and Burris Jenkins, Jr.
The other day I was going through some of Jim Ivey's voluminous files, of which some boxes still remain in process to be wedded with my filing system. I came across a folder marked "Optical Illusions." In amongst clips of op art and clever bits of drawing, I found these three clippings that knocked my socks off. Apparently it was a thing, at least for a few editorial cartoonists, to do a Christmas greeting in their regular space. Burris Jenkins Jr. (top two, 1965 and 1960) and Karl Hubenthal (bottom, 1964) produced these incredible cartoons, in which the entire drawing is made up of hundreds or probably even thousands of expertly lettered names to whom they wished to send Christmas greetintgs. I can't even imagine the time and expertise that went into creating these masterpieces.
There's no way you'll be able to read all these names at the size I can put on the blog, and the smallest of the names are tough to read even at full size on the crumbling old yellowed tearsheets filed away by Jim Ivey, but I can supply high-resolution versions to anyone with a serious interest. Just let me know.
PS: Jim and Hubenthal were pals, and I finally found his shout-out -- it's right next to Arnie Palmer in the deer's left (from his perspective) antler. Jim had actually circled it and I didn't notice.
In the first one I saw names of famous cartoonists listed in Santa's cup and hand, including Walt Disney, Otto Soglow, Mort Walker, Gus Edson, and others.
Monday, February 06, 2023
Under The Radar: Muggsy
Being over a hundred years old, Muggsy could certainly qualify as an Obscurity of the Day, but I think he is a better fit for Under The Radar since the strip had an incredibly long run for those days, two whole decades.
You may be thinking to yourself, if the strip ran that long, and I've never heard of it, was it some local thing? Nope, it ran in lots of higher profile papers. What makes it utterly forgotten is the fact that it was pretty literally the SAME DARN GAG for its whole long run. The question, then, is why it lasted so long, and for that question I have no answer, but I'd sure like to know why myself.
Muggsy, as you'll see when you peruse the samples above, is not only the same gag over and over, but the art is clunky to boot. The cartoonist, Frank Crane, came onto the comic stripping scene in 1900 with this full-fledged style of his, and it never grew or changed appreciably over his entire career.
Muggsy may have only had one joke, but he didn't have only one syndicate. He debuted in the Philadelphia North American on December 1 1901* and ran there until April 20 1902. Crane was actually a much more important player at the New York Herald at this time, and apparently decided Muggsy was too good for the less auspicious comic section of the North American. He moved the strip to the Herald starting there on May 18 1902.
Whether the Herald tired of the strip, or the North American balked at the loss, it remained there only a short period. It ended in the Herald on August 24 1902, and reappeared in the North American on October 12.
From then on the strip ran consistently, 99% of the time as an interior half-pager, in the North American section, except for one long hiatus from April 15 1906 to August 25 1907, coinciding with Crane taking on some extra work for the Boston Herald with Val the Ventriloquist.
Muggsy kept up his ultra-repetitive shenanigans until the Philadelphia North American's Sunday comic section ended on July 4 1915**. At this point Crane went back to the New York Herald, where he tried out several new strips. None of them caught on though, and Crane seems to have retired from newspaper cartooning in 1916, and he died in 1917.
But even that couldn't keep Muggsy down; World Color Printing bought the backlog of quite a few North American strips and ran Muggsy in reruns from 1916 to 1920, rounding out the total run for this strip to a nice even twenty years.
* Sources: All dates from Philadelphia North American, except New York Herald dates from Ken Barker's Herald index, and World Color Printing info from various papers in my collection.
** A comic section I'd dearly love for my collection -- the North American strip characters all get blown to kingdom come by fireworks.
Labels: Under The Radar
I don't know as ALL the NA characters took the big blowout in the final section; I don't have that section, but I have the title breakdown, and it would seem that some obviously are that, the "Movie Mat" explicitly tells us he " ..goes up in a blaze of powder", the Paw Tommyrot and the Dilly Dally David speak of fireworks, but the rest give no idea there are explosive goings-on.
Maybe I just can't remember. I wouldn't have minded seeing Snooks and Snicks get vaporised.
Sunday, February 05, 2023
Wish You Were Here, from Albert Carmichael
Here's an example of what may be Albert Carmichael's scarcest series, Taylor & Pratt Series #669. These cards all featured fish and they're usually worth a bit of a grin, so I don't know why they didn't sell. The series seems to have been produced in 1910, or at least that's how Carmichael dated them.
Postcards related to hunting and fishing were quite popular, a quick and convenient way for a fellow on a sporting expedition to let the family at home know he was still alive.
Labels: Wish You Were Here