Saturday, July 15, 2023
Herriman Saturday: June 5 1910
June 5 1910 -- A bittersweet announcement goes with this post. As we come to June 1910 in our complete reprinting of Herriman's LA Examiner cartoons, we have reached his final month with the paper. Yes, believe it or not, Herriman won't be at the Examiner for the Fight of the Century on July 4. Instead he'll be in New York starting a little strip called The Family Upstairs before the month is out, and finally carving out his exalted place in the history of newspaper cartooning.
This Stripper's Guide series has been running since June 2 2007, believe it or not. It has taken us a decade and a half to chronicle all of Herriman's (major) cartoons for the Examiner from 1906 to 1910, roughly three times as long as it took Herriman to produce them.
There are now just two more cartoons left. Be here for all of 'em!
Today's cartoon takes yet another look at the upcoming Fight of the Century. Here's the real question, though: would Herriman have had the guts to depict Jim Jeffries in a tutu if George wasn't on his way out of town? I dunno, but I'm betting that prizefighters like Jeffries don't have highly developed humorous bones.
Labels: Herriman's LA Examiner Cartoons
Friday, July 14, 2023
Obscurity of the Day: Above The Crowd
Ben David "Stookie" Allen pretty much made a career out of cartoon features about people who did impressive stuff. After one short-lived comic strip feature in the 1920s, Allen found his niche in the biographical panel format, producing them for individual newspapers, syndicates and even for magazines and comic books.
Today's obscurity, Above The Crowd, was produced by Allen while he was working at the New York Mirror, the Hearst-owned tabloid. Above The Crowd was offered in syndication but is rarely seen outside the Mirror itself. It started in the Corsicana Daily Sun on September 11 1933, but I'm betting it started in the Mirror at least a bit earlier.
The panel was initially produced in the lavish 3-column format seen above, affording Allen lots of elbow room for art and text, even regular appearances by the cartoonist himself. In mid-1935 it was downgraded to a two-column panel (which helped it not one iota finding newspaper clients) and it became a much more cramped and all-business affair. It last appears in the Corsicana Sun in March 1936, but again, it may have lasted longer in the Mirror itself. According to a mention in the Corsicana Sun there was a book of these cartoons published, but I have searched WorldCat to no avail.
If anyone has access to the New York Mirror, I'd love to know the running dates there, in its home paper.
Wednesday, July 12, 2023
Firsts and Lasts: The Final Small Society
Thanks to Mark Johnson, here we have the last Small Society daily, which was published on February 27 1999.
The Small Society debuted in 1966, a sort of lightly editorial gag cartoon that focused on an everyman character trying to deal with modern society, politics and relationships. The marketing for this strip must have been masterful because it started with a very healthy client list, and managed to keep a decent roll call of papers right through the 1960s, 70s and even 80s despite the lack of strong characters or audience-grabbing hooks. Perhaps its popularity had something to do with it being an early adopter of the panel-in-strip-format look, but that seems a stretch. .
The strip was created by Morrie Brickman, who used a very pleasant minimalist style on this feature -- a change from his earlier more detailed cartooning work. Bill Yates began getting credit as co-creator in 1985, and then got sole credit starting in 1989, but the art and writing style of the strip never faltered.
In 1999 Yates was in poor health and decided to drop The Small Society. The final installment gave only an oblique nod to the end of the series. Thanks to Mark Johnson for supplying this final strip.
Labels: Firsts and Lasts
Monday, July 10, 2023
Obscurity of the Day: Mr. Broad of Wall Street
It's been a long, long time since we trained the spotlight on Charles McManus here at Stripper's Guide, since 2007 to be precise. As you may know, he was the considerably less talented brother of George McManus, creator of Bringing Up Father.
Of course when you have a brother who produces the most popular comic strip in the U.S., and probably the world, you have a significantly better chance of getting your work published than just any Tom, Dick or Gertrude, and Charles certainly took advantage of his position. But in a way, his work did have a very definite value -- it looks somewhat like George's work to the untrained eye, and it was marketed to smaller papers that couldn't afford a bunch of high-profile stuff. That sort of paper could see the value in running a McManus comic strip, never mind that the given name was wrong. And quite a few smalltown papers did take Charles' strips, probably under the presumption that McManus' brother was better than no McManus at all.
It has long been assumed, by me and many others, that Charles got a lot of help on these strips from his famous brother. The art is a klunky imitation of the George McManus style, and the repetition of wooden character poses makes one wonder if Charles didn't just trace his work from model sheets produced by George. That theory holds up well when we consider how the backgrounds and props are minimalistic and often out of perspective. There was a day when I thought Charles actually had a bunch of rubber stamps made up for the characters, but having since seen some original art of these strips, that guess turns out to be wrong.
Mr. Broad of Wall Street was Charles' second strip, joining his first, Dorothy Darnit, at Bell Syndicate. The strip debuted on November 21 1921*. It is about a fellow who works in a stockbroker's office, and the gags are often about him trying to cadge stock tips. But Charles was not one to be a slave to details, and so Mr. Broad can show up in just about any sort of business office, or, if no business-related gag came to mind, in just about any other situation you can imagine, too. He can even be found coexisting with Dorothy Darnit on occasion (see last example), giving Charles the luxury of producing one strip that can be run with both series.
For unclear reasons the title of the strip was changed to Freddie the Financier on March 27 1922. Why this was deemed necessary I can't begin to guess. The gags and (lack of) focus seem to change not one iota.
Because we are dealing with Bell Syndicate here, notorious for reselling material in those days, coming up with an end date is tricky. As near as I can figure, the series ended on April 7 1923**, but Bell seemed to immediately start selling the strip in reprints; perhaps even before the end of the original run. They not only sold it in reprints themselves, but when they tired of flogging it to ever small papers, they sold it off to an unknown reprint syndicate, where it went through further rounds of selling until the papers they marketed to got so small as to be non-existent. The latest I have found the strip appearing is in 1932***, almost a decade after the original run ended.
* Source: Buffalo Express
** Source: New York Evening Telegram
*** Source: Stuart Daily News
You say you didn't train the spotlight on brother Charlie since 2007, but you forgot that you covered "Mr. Broad" once before. (1 February 2011).
Once I did a blog on some other of Charlie's chuckles:
Sunday, July 09, 2023
Wish You Were Here, from Albert Carmichael
Here we are with another entry in the "Gee, I Wish I Had a Girl" series by Albert Carmichael, also known as Taylor Pratt series #568.
I'll just head off our beloved and irascible Carmichael art critic by saying, yeah, feets don't turn that way. Except when there's a sickening *CRACK* involved. Hey, maybe this guy is so forlorn he decided to break his own ankle to dull the emotional pain.
Labels: Wish You Were Here