Saturday, June 24, 2023


Herriman Saturday: May 30 1910


May 30 1910 -- Louis Urban has the misfortune of looking almost exactly like Daniel A. Boyd, a fellow to whom he is no relation. But he doesn't just have the problem of occasionally being mistaken for his doppelganger, an annoyance surely. No, the problem is that Mr. Boyd is a wanted criminal with a long and impressive rap sheet. Every cop in the land has his face memorized, and each time one of the men in blue see Urban the same long and involved drama plays out. Urban gets hauled into the police station where in the best case he can convince the constabulary of his identity, but often he is held overnight in the pokey and has to plead his case in front of a judge. 

Sick and tired of this annoying, not to mention potentially dangerous, case of mistaken identity, Urban has vowed to find and arrest the criminal Boyd himself so that he can get his life back on track.


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Friday, June 23, 2023


Toppers: The Neighbor Next Door


We covered all the other Just Boy/Elmer topper series in this post; the only remaining series to cover is The Neighbor Next Door, which ran for a grand total of three episodes, from June 13 to 26 1926. That's not counting the one-shot topper titled Absent-Minded Andy that ran on June 6. 

This series, with a lifespan about that of a mayfly, concerns a family of what we in Nova Scotia call "curtain twitchers", people who seem to have nothing better to do than watch the activity of their neighbours (hi Craig!). What more needs be said about a three-episode series? Hmm, nothing much. Oh, wait a sec. There's a very important footnote to provide that one episode had a slightly different title, Our Neighbor Next Door. I think we can now call it a day.


Hello Allan-
I know that Fera stopped doing the strip sometime in 1926, and the sample today is one of his, so when is the actual first one by Winner? If "The Neighbor Next Door" only existed in June, with Alexander Smart beginning in July, could we assume that was when Winner took over,and adding his own creation to the page?
According to my peepers, Winner took over with the November 14 1926 Sunday. Your mileage may vary.

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Wednesday, June 21, 2023


Obscurity of the Day: Stanley


New Zealand cartoonist Murray Ball is venerated in his home country for the long-running Footrot Flats comic strip. Before that he scored another big hit with Stanley the Paleolithic Hero, which ran in the British magazine Punch either from 1970-74, according to Paul Hudson's The A to Z of British Newspaper Strips, or 1970-1981 as reported in various online sources. I'm guessing the latter must be closer to the truth, about which more below.

The strip starred a bespectacled caveman who tries with little success to fit in as a savage top-level predator like his kinsmen. The art and writing is top-notch, featuring exuberant slapstick material. Evidently U.S.-based syndication company Universal Press Syndicate thought it might appeal to the American market, and they offered it starting on April 4 1977* as a daily and Sunday strip with the abbreviatd title Stanley.

It is unclear to me how the American version of the strip relates to the material published overseas. The presence of Britishisms like gags about soccer would seem to indicate that the strip was essentially unchanged for the U.S. market. But since Punch would have had no use for daily/Sunday style strips, I can only assume that Ball was by 1977 producing material beyond their requirements. Whether Punch itself was ordering the extra material for syndication, or if Ball had taken his character to a more conventional syndicate by then, I'm afraid I do not know. 

What I do know is that for all of Stanley's charm, it failed to impress many American features editors. The strip never managed to pull in more than a modest list of clients, and as far as I can tell was pulled by Universal Press as of September 8 1979**.

* Source: New Orleans Times-Picayune

** Source: Wilmington News-Journal.

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Stanley was kept longer in international syndication. The Australian newspaper PAPUA NEW GUINEA POST-COURIER (Port Moresby) started running the strip on 24 February 1977, jumping the gun with the one designated to be the American debut, with the episode dated 4/4. It's run with the shortened U.S. title, just Stanley,and has Universal's imprint. As they only published Monday-Friday, there would be no possiblity of matching any organized plan that 6-a-week American papers require, and the assigned dates instantly mean nothing.
They ran the strip until 6 November 1980, with the final entries with no dates any more, though still with Universal's name. There's a possiblity that the later ones were still new, but free of any prudish restrictions U.S. editors would impose, with gags shall we say,involving feminine anatomy.
Old enough to remember Stanley in Punch. Dad subscribed for a year or so, and in college I'd look up new issues in the library. The Punch strips had no panel borders or balloons around dialogue; backgrounds consisted mainly of a long horizon line. The drawings were stacked vertically.

Ball did a later strip that appeared in Punch, titled "All the King's Comrades" (had to look it up). This looked newspaper-ready from the get go with panel borders, balloons, backgrounds, etc. It was about unionized medieval serfs versus a CEO/king in a broad labor-management satire. It was amusing, but not as elegant as Stanley.
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Monday, June 19, 2023


Obscurity of the Day: Mr. Bings and the 20th Century ...


Syd B. Griffin only produced a handful of newspaper comic strip series. His forte was magazine cartoons, and for newspapers, one-shot gags. All of Griffin's series were produced for the New York World but for this one exception, Mr. Bings and the Twentieth Century ..., which was produced for the then-new McClure Syndicate just a few months into its existence. 

Mr. Bings is a delightful strip (if a bit clunkily plotted) in which the gullible protagonist will buy any new product if the salesman makes the claim that it is a 20th century invention or improvement (that is, less than a year old at the time). Such is Mr. Bings' faith in modern ingenuity, fueled by famed contemporary inventors like Edison, Marconi and Bell, that he is anxious to be on the bleeding edge of every new advance. Of course, this is a comic strip so things never work out quite as he hopes. 

True to the age in which he lived, Griffin obviously bought into the assumption that new inventions, even those touted by street corner hawkers, generally worked. The gag here is that they work TOO WELL. In more modern days, of course, the standard gag would be that the streetcorner salesman is selling worthless junk. An interesting bit of social history, that. 

Mr. Bings and the Twentieth Century ... ran in the MClure Sunday sections from July 21 1901* to January 5 1902**. 

* Source: New York Press

** Source: Philadelphia Press

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Sunday, June 18, 2023


Wish You Were Here, from Little Nemo


Here's our next card in the Raphael Tuck Little Nemo series. The art on this one is particularly bad, the characters really looking off-model. Still, I assume it depicts a scene from the original strip. Can you figure out which strip this is from?


I agree they look terrible, and the colours are all wrong, but this time is it from a real strip: 1907/08/18.
Thanks Brian!
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