Saturday, March 04, 2023


Herriman Saturday: May 20 1910


May 20 1910 -- On May 19 Herriman published a cartoon, "If Jack Johnson Wins", showing the Black folks enjoying the high life. Today he offers his impression of what happens if Johnson loses -- empty pocketbooks due to all the lost bets.


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Friday, March 03, 2023


Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: R.H. Webb

Robert Hayward “Bob” Webb was born on April 23, 1914 in Yonkers, New York, according to his World War II draft card. However, his Social Security application had the year 1915, and the Social Security Death Index had the birth date as April 12, 1915. 

Curiously, Webb was not counted with his parents, Thomas and Sarah in the 1920 United States Census. They were Bridgeport, Connecticut residents at 475 Colorado Avenue. Webb’s father was an engineer at a machine shop.

The 1930 census recorded Webb and his parents in Bridgeport at 694 Courtland Avenue. His father was employed as a mechanical engineer at a brass company. 

In 1937, Webb was a student at Pratt Institute. The 1937 yearbook, Prattonia, listed his address as 694 Cortlandt [sic] Ave., Bridgeport, Conn. The Illustration II X class photograph pictured him with future comic book artists Lillian Chestney, Charles Cuidera, Gerald McCann, and Samuel Weissman

Webb graduated from Pratt in 1939. The Brooklyn Eagle (New York), June 8, 1939, listed the graduates and several of his Pictorial Illustration classmates went into the comic book field: John E. Ayman, William T. Bossert, Lillian Chestney, Charles Nicholas Cuidera, Philip J. Dring, Charles Mazoujian, and Stanley M. Zuckerberg

The 1940 census said Webb lived with his parents at the same address. He was a self-employed artist. 

On October 16, 1940, Webb signed his World War II draft card. He resided in Brooklyn, New York at 45 Cambridge Place. Webb’s employer was [Will] Eisner & [Jerry] Iger Associates. (Many of his credits are at the Grand Comics Database.) Webb was described as five feet four inches, 162 pounds, with blue eyes and blonde hair. 

Richmond Times-Dispatch (Virginia), September 2, 1941, reported Webb’s engagement. 
Lynchburg—Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Marshall Panck have announced the engagement of their daughter Ethel to Robert Hayward Webb son of Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Miller Webb of Bridgeport, Conn. and brother of Mrs. Charles E. Warner of Lynchburg. They will be married in early fall.
They married on September 20, 1941 in Lynchburg, Virginia, according to the marriage certificate at 

Webb pencilled the Classic Comics/Classics Illustrated adaptations of Richard Henry Dana, Jr.’s Two Years Before the Mast (October 1945); Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (December 1945); and Jules Verne’s Mysterious Island (February 1947). Editor and Publisher, March 1, 1947, announced the launch of the New York Post Syndicate’s Illustrated Classics series which was produced by the Gilberton Company. Webb was one of several artists whose work was syndicated. American Newspaper Comics (2012) said Webb drew Robert Louis Stevenson’s Kidnapped which ran from March 30 to April 20, 1947. The script was by John O’Rourke. The comic book version appeared in 1948 and Webb’s art was praised in Robert Louis Stevenson Reconsidered: New Critical Perspectives (2003). The New York Post, March 26, 1947, said: 
…‘Kidnapped,’ the first in a series of ‘Illustrated Classics’ in striking four-color comic strip form will be presented in four installments, four full pages each on successive Saturdays as an extra attraction of the Post’s brimful week-end edition.
New York Post 3/28/1947

New York Post 3/29/1947

Kidnapped original art courtesy of Heritage Auctions

A Century of Women Cartoonists (1993) said Ann Brewster inked Frankenstein1941 Pratt graduate, David Heames, inked Two Years Before the Mast and Mysterious Island. The Catalog of Copyright Entries, Third Series, Volume 1, Part 1B, Number 1, Pamphlet, Serials and Contributions to Periodicals, January–June 1947, had this entry: 
Stokes, Manning L.
Mysterious island, by Jules Verne, adapted by Manning L. Stokes, illustrated by Robert Hayward Webb and David Heames. [New York, Gilberton co., 1947] 55 p. col. illus. 26cm. (Classic comics. Feb. 1947. no. 34) © publisher; 11Mar47; AA53546.
Webb drew the strip The Hawk which was credited to Rod Maxwell, a pen name. Jerry Iger’s full name was Samuel Maxwell Iger. Writer Ruth Roche used several pen names including Rod Roche. It was syndicated by Phoenix Features, a continuation of sorts of Eisner & Iger Associates and Lincoln Features. The Hawk appeared in the weekly Illinois newspaper, Wood River Journal, which printed six numbered strips at a time from March 27 to June 5, 1947; 66 strips were published out of an unknown total. Some original art is at Heritage Auctions

Wood River Journal, 3/20/1947

Webb worked in the comics industry for nearly thirty years. Webb had a notable run illustrating Sheena, Queen of the Jungle stories. An overview of his career is at Who’s Who of American Comic Books 1928–1999. Classics Illustrated: A Cultural History said 
... After leaving the comics field, he turned to boatbuilding and later roared with laughter as he told Hames Ware, “I used to draw boats, and now I build them.” 
Webb passed away on September 11, 2000 and his last known residence was Capitol Heights, Maryland, according to the Social Security Death Index. An obituary was published in The Independent (Maryland), September 13, 2000. (Enter keywords Robert H Webb La Plata MD in the RootsWeb search box.) Webb was laid to rest at Presbyterian Cemetery

(An earlier profile appeared in 2013.)


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Wednesday, March 01, 2023


Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: August M. Froehlich

August Maria Froehlich was born in Bohemia, Austria, on February 4, 1880, according to his World War I draft card. It’s not known where Froehlich had his art training. 

A family tree at said Froehlich married Charlotte Gertrude Schultz in 1904. Their son, Heinz/Henry, was born later that year. 

On October 21, 1909, Froehlich and his wife were aboard the steamship Amerika when it departed Hamburg, Germany. They arrived in the port of New York on October 31. 

Froehlich has not yet been found in the 1910 United Staes Census. 

Froehlich tried vaudeville as reported in Variety, September 2, 1911. 
August M. Froehlich, cartoonist of the Staats Zeitung, is going into vaudeville, offering comedy cartoons and finishing with an artistic painting On a glass transparency. He is under the direction of Paul Durand.
On May 12, 1912, Froehlich’s son arrived from Germany. 

Tägliche Omaha Tribüne (Nebraska), March 8, 1913, printed an illustration by Froehlich. 

The 1915 New York state census recorded the Froehlichs in Staten Island on Centre Street. Froehlich’s occupation was artist. 

On September 12, 1918, Froehlich signed his World War I draft card. His address was 79 Locust Avenue in New Dorp, (Staten Island), New York. He was described as medium build and height, with brown eyes and hair. Froehlich was an artist at the Einson Lithograph Corporation in New York City. 

In the 1920 census, Froehlich’s Staten Island address was 2671 Amboy Road. The 1920 New York, New York city directory listed Froehlich’s studio at 116 West 39th Street, room 422. He resided in Staten Island. 

The 1925 New York state census counted the Froehlichs in Manhattan at 44 East 88th Street. The artist’s son was an auto mechanic. 

Film Daily, February 28, 1926, listed Froehlich as an Universal Pictures employee. The magazine celebrated Carl Laemmle’s 20th anniversary as president of Universal Pictures. 

According to the 1930 census, the Froehlichs resided in St. Albans, Queens, New York at 188-05 Mangin Avenue. Froehlich was a commercial artist in the moving picture industry. 

Motion Picture Herald, January 15, 1938, reported a slight change in Froehlich’s employment. 
With the closing of Morgan Lithograph Corporation office attached to Universal, August M. Froehlich, art director, and Ben Wells, poster artist, will join the regular Universal art staff. Mr. Froehlich has been with Morgan for 20 years, while Mr. Wells has served the company for 50 years and has been attached to Universal since its inception. …
Froehlich’s Fifth Avenue Girl, 1939, RKO

The 1940 census said Froehlich had moved from St. Albans to Sunnyside at 45-08 40th Street. The self-employed artist earned $2,500 in 1939. 

On April 26, 1942, Froehlich signed his World War II draft card. His home was in Northport, Suffolk County, New York at 176 Laurel Avenue. His description was five feet five inches, 140 pounds, with brown eyes and gray hair.

Who’s Who of American Comic Books 1928–1999 said Froehlich’s comic book career began around 1939 with the Eisner & Iger Studio. 

Editor and Publisher, March 1, 1947, announced the launch of the New York Post Syndicate’s Illustrated Classics series which was produced by the Gilberton Company. Froehlich was one of several artists whose work was syndicated. American Newspaper Comics (2012) said Froehlich drew Man in the Iron Mask, which ran from January 25 to February 15, 1948. The script was by John O’Rourke. The comic book version appeared in 1948. Harry Glickman wrote and Froehlich drew Toilers of the Sea, which ran from February 22 to March 14, 1948. The comic book version appeared in 1949. Heritage Auctions has some of Froehlich’s Classics Illustrated original art. A checklist of Froehlich’s work is at the Grand Comics Database

The date of Froehlich’s passing is unclear. In Classics Illustrated: A Cultural History, William B. Jones said “… August M. Froehlich, an older artist who died in 1949 shortly after completing his last Classics Illustrated assignment.” The year is incorrect because Froehlich and his wife were counted in the 1950 census. The Social Security Applications and Claims Index, at, said a claim was made on August 31, 1950. Froehlich’s surname was inexplicably misspelled and there was no death date. Apparently the claim was made to either register for Social Security or begin receiving benefits. Froehlich and his wife have not been found in the Social Security Death Index.

In the New York, New York Death Index, at, is an “August Froehlich” who passed away on September 10, 1951 in Manhattan and is a good match for the artist. 

Further Reading
Lambiek Comiclopedia


For what it's worth, a Charlotte Gertrude Froehlich was naturalized in September of 1941, listing an address in Flushing (different from the 1940 and 1942 address); born in 1884, which means 20 at marriage if she's the same one as listed in the draft cards. Interesting, if it's her, that she waited as long as she did.
For additional information on August M. Froehlich and his fascinating comics I would recommend to take a look at this lengthy article (open access):

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Monday, February 27, 2023


Obscurity of the Day: Jackie


Al Smith's eponymous syndicate served weekly papers with comic strips for almost fifty years, accomplishing the nearly impossible task of separating a goodly number of tight-fisted small town newspaper proprietors from a little cash each week. Many prospective syndicates tried marketing to weeklies, certain that they were going to wow an overlooked market, and almost all crashed and burned. Small town newspapers are not only produced on a shoestring budget, but they know that their audience is mostly interested in seeing their names and the names of those they know in those weekly pages. Comic strips might be a nice addition, but they rarely pay for themselves with additional subscriptions to the Podunk Weekly Demopublican

The very first offering of the Al Smith Service was this strip, Jackie, and it predates the rest of his offerings by about a year or so. Why Smith would start a syndicate with a blackface throwback strip I don't know, but I do know that it sold well in Alabama. The earliest I have found the strip is in the Birmingham Weekly Review in April 1949*, and that paper proves that Smith really knew how to sell, because that is a black paper. Granted, there's no real overt racism in Jackie, but even way back in 1949 black folks were not too fond of this visual portrayal. 

When Smith started offering a whole roster of strips in 1950, Jackie remained Smith's only artistic contribution. In late 1951, though, contributor Paul Gringle left the popular Rural Delivery strip, and Smith took that over as well. Between the two strips, and Al Smith's 'real' job of producing the 7-day per week Mutt and Jeff, and handling sales and distribution chores, he must have been one busy guy.

He soldiered on though, and it wasn't until two years later that due to either overwork or a sense that Jackie was a relic of a bygone time, Smith made a change. Or at least a baby step. He cancelled Jackie in March 1953, and moved the character over into his Rural Delivery strip, renaming it Jackie In Rural Delivery. Jackie remained a titled player in the strip until early 1954, and an occasional player well past that (often in reused old strips). 

Jackie is not in my book, and I completely misunderstood what I was seeing in the spotty microfilm archives of the weeklies back then. In the book's listing for Rural Delivery I said that it was advertised as Jackie in 1951-1952. With much better online archives now available, the history related here is hopefully much more accurate.


* I have an unattributed note saying that the strip started in 1948, but I can't find any proof of that.


Do you know when Al Smith started recycling his "Mutt and Jeff" strips for "Rural Delivery"?

And I do mean recycle. If you ever look up original art for "Rural Delivery" he literally took a "Mutt and Jeff" strip and pasted over the names and faces with characters from his other strip.
Hi Brubaker --Yeah, I love finding original art for those strips. I'm not sure when the face transplants started but when I was researching Jackie I saw strips already being recycled in the mid-50s, earlier than I would have guessed. As for re-using M&Js, I'm guessing that definitely didn't start until Bud Fisher was dead (1954)-- I imagine he would have howled foul. I guess after that it would have been as soon as Smithe thought he could get away with it!

I am astonished that any black-owned paper would publish a "blackface" strip. I'm sure that many of the readers were appropriately disgusted.
It seems to me, black readers and consumers of mass media culture many years ago not only tolerated, but easily indulged in what are seen as offensive caricitures now.
We've seen some of the black cartoonists who created material for black newspapers,and you might see the "race" movies produced for segregated audiences, and it would seem, tastes.
The black comic protagonists there are quite similar to those in mainstream Hollywood products. What we sometimes regard as the lowest, most insulting genus of actors to blacks, Stepin Fetchit, Mantan Moreland and their brand of humour, were quite acceptible to the audiences of "race" films in their day. The white actors in blackface that did the same schtick, were not.
The main difference it would seem to me, is the race of the clean cut serious actors in the same films.
Generally, There weren't many mainstream comic syndicate black characters, far fewer as the lead. They're obscure, and very old, like Gallous Coon, the Chocolate Drops and Tempus Todd. Even the names are offensive, but in their day, they carried no importance to anyone.
Later ones like this Smith effort, and "Sunflower Street" are extremely tepid, gentle affairs.The characters aren't stupid or insulting,they're more warm and wise. It makes them more dull than offensive.
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Sunday, February 26, 2023


Wish You Were Here, from Grace Drayton


Grace Drayton produced some slyly funny cards for Reinnthal & Newman, but here she is in cloyingly cute mode. This is card #488.


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