Saturday, April 22, 2023


Herriman Saturday: May 24 1910


May 24 1910 -- A portly woman discovered a purse laying on the sidewalk, but her corset was so tight she could not bend over to pick it up. So she guarded the purse by standing on it until she thought the coast was clear and she could get down on hands and knees to pick it up. And ..... that's all I know! Unfortunately only the first half of this story made it onto my photocopy.


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Friday, April 21, 2023


Obscurity of the Day: Mr. Hothead : He's Soon Over It


Here's one of the many series produced by Walter Wellman for the New York Evening World in the 1903-06 period. Mr. Hothead - He's Soon Over It ran just two episodes, on October 1 and 22 1906, and were his last works for that paper until he briefly returned in 1911. By mid-1906 Wellman was already out looking for greener pastures, producing a few series for the Boston Herald and New York Evening Telegram. These two episodes were probably sitting in the World editor's drawer, waiting for a slack day. 

Although Wellman's output doesn't seem all that impressive based on my book, his strength lay in one-off gag panels, which he seemed to be able to produce in wholesale lots. In fact you can often find Wellman's gag cartoons appearing in multiples in newspapers, sometimes under a consistent headline. In general I've not even attempted to track these because so many papers would have dropped the title and run the individual panels wherever they needed to fill holes. There's a certain point in newspaper comics research when the ends just don't quite justify the means.


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Wednesday, April 19, 2023


Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Gus Edelstein aka Gus Edson

(After reviewing my 2011 profile of Gus Edelstein, I did additional research and realized he was Gus Edson.)

Gus Edson was born August M. Edelstein on September 20, 1898, in Cincinnati, Ohio, according to his World War I New York military service record and World War II draft card, both at For decades, biographies of Edson said he was born in 1901.

The 1900 United States Census, said Edson was born in September 1899. He was the only child of Max, a Russian-born salesman, and Emma. They lived in Cincinnati, Ohio at 1027 Mound Street.

Edson has not yet been found in the 1910 census. The date of the family’s move to New York City is not known. 

In the 1915 New York state census, Edson and his parents lived in Brooklyn at 1338 Bergen Street. 

Edson graduated from Commercial High School, in Brooklyn, where he was the recipient of an award

The Daily Standard Union (Brooklyn, New York), June 5, 1918, reported the prize winners of posters for the prevention of tuberculosis. Edson won third prize at his school. 

The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, July 6, 1918, said many of the prize-winning posters, including Edson’s, were purchased and sent on a touring exhibition. 

Edson signed his World War I draft card on September 12, 1918. He was a student at Pratt Institute, and lived with his parents at 1338 Bergen Street in Brooklyn, New York. His description was medium height, slender build with gray eyes and dark hair.

Edson’s New York military service card said he was inducted on October 1, 1918, and served in the Students Army Training Corps at Pratt Institute. He was a private who did not serve overseas. Some biographies said he served in Australia. Edson was honorably discharged on December 9, 1918. 

Edson has not yet been found in the 1920 census. 

The Encyclopedia of American Biography (1934) said Edson’s career as a cartoonist began in 1920. In 1925, he was sports cartoonist on the New York Evening Graphic. (Professionally, he changed his name from Edelstein to Edson in the mid-1920s.) He joined the Paul Block chain of newspapers in 1928. Edson’s cartoons appeared on the sports page of the New York Evening Post from 1929 to 1930. He moved to the King Features Syndicate and worked as a feature cartoonist from 1930 to 1931. Edson returned to sports cartooning with the New York Daily News from 1931 to 1935. 

Brooklyn Standard Union, 9/11/1928

According to American Newspaper Comics (2012), Edson created the strip, Lottie Pep, in 1924. Editor & Publisher, October 25, 1924, listed the series as a property of the Thomson Feature Service, Inc. Editor and Publisher, August 29, 1925, said 
“Lottie Pep,” formerly a two-column comic art feature distributed by the Graphic Syndicate, New York, has been changed to five-column strip form with Gus Edelstein as artist, T. O. Davidson, syndicate manager announced this week. ...
Edson also did illustrations that appeared in newspapers such as the Portsmouth Daily Times (Ohio) in its November 11, 1924 issue.

The New York, New York Marriage License Index, at, said Edson and Gladys Cedar obtained marriage license number 17221 in Brooklyn on October 3, 1922. Their Brooklyn marriage was on November 4, 1922. (Biographies said the marriage was on February 4, 1922.)

The 1927 and 1928 Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island telephone directories had this listing: “Edelstein Gus Edson r 3223 Glenwood rd MAN sfield-2454”.

In the 1930 census, Edson and Gladys had two children. His occupation was newspaper cartoonist. They were Brooklyn residents at 231 Ocean Avenue, which was about half-a-mile from his parents. Also in the same apartment building, apparently next door, was Charles R. Macauley. This census marked the last time Edson gave his birth surname, Edelstein, to census enumerators.

Editor and Publisher, August 30, 1930, printed a full-page King Features Syndicate advertisement for Edson’s Here’s How

American Newspaper Comics said Edson created the strip, Streaky, which he drew from October 1, 1933 to 1936. The series was continued by Loy Byrnes

The Gumps creator, Sidney Smith, died on October 20, 1935. Edson was chosen to continue the series. The topper, Cousin Juniper, was added in 1944. It was replaced with Grandpa Noah in the mid-1950s. R.C. Harvey named Ray Bailey as Edson’s assistant for about the first six years. Alberto Becattini said Sam Hale was an assistant around 1945. 

In 1937, Edson and his wife vacationed in Bermuda. They returned to the port of New York on August 25. The passenger list said their address was Bradley Street in Westport, Connecticut. Their second trip to Bermuda was in 1938. On April 13, they arrived in New York and made their way home to 199 Greenway South, Forest Hills, New York. The third Bermuda vacation was in 1939. The passenger list said they returned on July 15 and lived on Brookside Drive in Darien, Connecticut. 

Newspaper cartoonist Edson had the same Darien address in the 1940 census. His highest level of education was the fourth year of high school. In 1939 he earned $5,000. His three children were David, Russell and Patricia.

On February 16, 1942, Edson signed his World War II draft card. His address was 200 Weed Avenue, in Stamford. He worked for the Chicago Tribune-New York News Syndicate Inc. Edson was described as five feet eight inches, 185 pounds, with gray eyes and brown hair.

The 1942 and 1943 Stamford, Connecticut city directories listed Edson at 200 Weed Avenue.

The Evening Star (Washington, DC), October 3, 1949, said Edson was one of several cartoonists to sketch President Truman. Their efforts were televised the following day. 

Edson’s address, in the 1950 census, was 149 Weed Avenue in Stamford. 

Who’s Who in America Volume 28 (1954) said Edson was a member of the Society of Illustrators, National Cartoonists Society, Society of the Silurians, Artists and Writers Association, and Banshee. 

Dondi debuted on September 26, 1955 with Edson writing and Irwin Hasen drawing. Bob Oksner assumed the creative chores on April 23, 1967. Edson was the producer and screenwriter of the 1961 film adaptation

Edson passed away on September 26, 1966 in Stamford. 

Further Reading
Newsweek, December 12, 1936, Ghost Cartoonists Assure Immortality to Strips 
The Quill, August 1937, Gangway for the Gumps!
Evening Star (Washington, DC), July 1, 1963, ‘Dondi’ Creator Once Drew ‘The Gumps’ 
Syracuse University Library, Gus Edson


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Monday, April 17, 2023


Obscurity of the Day: Streaky



Back in the first half of the 1900s, kidlit was awash with sports-loving, clean-living, righteous and honorable boys. Why this trend took off at this particular time I won't take the space to speculate on, but I will say WHY these muscle-bound choirboys were so popular. It certainly wasn't that kids wanted to read about them, heck no, it was that parents and other do-gooders thought that the disappointing kids of reality needed fictional role models to which they could aspire. I'm going to bet that the number of novels and magazines featuring these types were bought by adults 90% of the time to give to kids. And if kids bought them, it was only because anything less supposedly uplifting would be confiscated by the 'rents. 

In newspaper comics we weren't immune. There were homegrown BMOCs and transplants, including Chip Collins, Ned Brant, Frank Merriwell, and Jack Armstrong, none of which I think really appealed to kids but certainly got appreciative nods from adults. 

Another entry into this genre, almost universally ignored despite running in two of the highest circulation papers of the day, was Streaky. Streaky is yet another of those kids who excel at all sports, revel in clean living, and help old ladies across the street even if they don't wanna go. This one allows just a tinch of humor on occasion, usually verboten in this genre, and the titular hero is in high school, whereas the norm was for these paragons of virtue to be college men. 

Gus Edson, who was producing sports cartoons at this time, came up with the kid, or perhaps had the youngster thrust upon him by the ever-creative Colonel Patterson. The strip, which had a continuity that seems like it would have better lent itself to running daily, was a Sunday-only affair, despite what you will read elsewhere on the interwebs. It appeared in the Chicago Tribune and New York Sunday News (of course) and the few other papers that ran it were ones that seemed to be outlets for everything CTNYNS, and even many of those shunned this strip. 

Under the strictures of this genre, I have to say that Streaky had just a bit more personality and sense of fun than the norm. Like if Frank Merriwell and Harold Teen were garbled in the transporter beam. And Gus Edson, who would later do such an unattractive job on the art of The Gumps, shows here that while he may not have gotten too far in the Landon course, when not trying to copy others he could offer a nice clean style that only makes you wince when you look closely at the  bad anatony and garbled faces. 

Streaky debuted on October 1 1933* to a world that yawned and turned the page. But to hear the New York Daily News flog it, you'd think it was the second coming:


I imagine that if the strip had added a daily it could have found at least a little following, but the Sunday-only frequency just couldn't get any traction with readers. Edson gamely kept with it, and on March 31 1935** was even awarded a topper addition to make it a full page. The topper, a pantomime strip about a generic dumb guy, was called Dopey Dildock, which is interesting only in that there is quite the etymology to that slang name, including an earlier strip from the 1900s, and an even earlier patent medicine. I'll offer this link to those who would like to know more, but be aware that the better research appears in some of the comments -- and the less said the better about Dondi, which for some reason a million commenters seem to think is where Dopey Dildock originated. 

Wait ... actually there's two reasons that Dopey Dildock is interesting. The second reason is that it was created as a strip of the same dimensions as Streaky itself. Normally toppers are smaller that their main strips, usually around a third to a fourth page. But Dopey Dildock, a full half-pager, was perfectly capable of running on its own without looking like a lost little strip. This became a pretty popular format at the Chicago Tribune, where even some major strips like Gasoline Alley were demoted to half-pagers so that the toppers could be billed equally, and run separately if needed. And they often were -- I find Streaky and Dopey Dildock appearing separately quite often.

When Sidney Smith died in late 1935, Gus Edson was foolishly chosen as his successor on The Gumps. Edson dropped Streaky like a hot potato, and probably clicked his heels with glee, as he transferred to one of the most beloved strips in history. You would think this would provide an opportune monent for Streaky to be put out of its misery, but no, 'twas not to be. Apparently Gus Edson had an assistant doing quite a lot of work on the strip -- maybe full-on ghosting if Ron Goulart has it right -- and this assistant was for some bizarre reason given the nod to continue Streaky. Thus on January 26 1936*, Loy Byrnes took the byline on both Streaky and Dopey Dildock:

Byrnes was a more competent cartoonist than Edson, and he made some positive changes to Streaky over time. First, he made the boy look a bit younger, more like a high schooler, than Edson's suit-wearing young adult. Second, after following Edson's style for awhile he began to adapt the strip to a jazzier, more modern look (most noticeable in upper sample here). Last but not least, he made the strip more tongue in cheek, and the continuities became more subordinate to weekly gags. 

All these changes, though, were to no avail. The last I can find Streaky running is May 21 1939, in both the Chicago Tribune and New York Sunday News, which both replaced it with George Clark's The Neighbors the next week. The final strip is in mid-story, making me wonder if it might have continued a little while longer in some subscribing paper. That guess becomes a little more likely to be right when we consider that I have also found the Dopey Dilldock topper running one additional time in the New York News on August 20 1939. 

UPDATE: Jeffrey Lindenblatt has looked into the matter of the end date, and has found no less than five additional newspapers that last run the strip on May 21 1939. This overwhelming evidence would seem to make it virtually certain that the single later Dopey Dilldock strip is a leftover used to fill a hole. Thanks Jeffrey!

* Source: Chicago Tribune

** Source: Detroit Free Press


That kind of stupid example-to-the-boys character was still around in the 50s when I was a kid. They always disgusted me. It's no wonder that I have never heard of Streaky, despite a lifetime devoted to newspaper comics. Just about anything, by anybody, would have been better. What a waste of good newsprint and effort by all concerned. Do I sound a bit fanatical?
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Sunday, April 16, 2023


Wish You Were Here, from Walt Munson


Here's a Walt Munson postcard that has the travel trailer craze as its subject. Traveling with a tow-behind trailer became popular in the 1920s, and only gained in popularity for the next 50 years or so. The practice finally started to lose popularity when the price of gas made it an uneconomical way to vacation. This card, postmarked 1942, would definitely be a pre-war printing, as travel trailers were pretty much put in mothballs during World War II. 

This card also has been customized for (or by) a locality, the small town of Shreve Ohio. Although no maker is credited, my guess is that it is a Krupp card, as the reverse looks like their design.

Since Munson's cards tend to have adult themes, I'm wondering if the lady, whose hubby is nowhere to be seen amongst this gang of kids, is making something more than a neighbourly offer to the gentleman, more like an invitation to take over as the head of the family. The fellow seems appropriately flabbergasted at the idea.


Hello Allan-
The man is her husband; you will notice that he does not have a jacket on, as a stranger or fellow that doesn't belong to the household would, and obviously, there is no other man seen. In a one-scene gag, there is no time for a backstory or possible alternate interpretations, everything must be in as archtypical form as possible.
The point of this gag is that mother is talking about more children to father. The gag line is a oftening up phrase she's using to lead into telling him she's once again in a family way.
sorry- SOFTENING UP phrase.
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