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.
Labels: Herriman's LA Examiner Cartoons
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.
Wednesday, April 19, 2023
Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Gus Edelstein aka Gus Edson
“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. ...
Labels: Ink-Slinger Profiles
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
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.
Labels: Wish You Were Here
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.