Saturday, July 29, 2023


Herriman Saturday, Swan Song Edition: June 22 1910


June 22 1910 -- So here it is, Herriman's last cartoon for the Los Angeles Examiner, and BIG SURPRISE, it's about the upcoming Fight of the Century. Since George's first Family Upstairs strip was published in New York on June 20, it is safe to say that this cartoon was published well after Herriman had cleaned out his west coast desk. 

So after fifteen years is this the end of Herriman Saturday? Well actually it is not, at least not quite. For awhile now I have been scanning Herriman one-shot cartoons from his earlier days in New York, before he went to the west coast, so we're going to have the Herriman Saturday Bonus Round for a short while until I use up my small inventory of those. You'll get to see just how downright awful George's early work was, bad enough to give the most unpolished amateur cartoonist hope that they too could someday be considered one of the greatest cartoonists ever to hold a pen. 

See you here next Saturday!


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Friday, July 28, 2023


Obscurity of the Day: Lucky Looie


Roy W. Taylor was certainly fascinated by the idea of the effects of good and bad luck. In the Chicago Daily News he penned this strip, Lucky Looie (or Louie sometimes), from April 14 1903 to April 13 1904. In this series Looie, a hobo, starts out the strip with what seems like what will be bad luck, but in each installment the situation turns and Looie ends up smelling like a rose, so to speak. 

Later at the New York World he would turn the tables with a short-lived 1906 series called Unlucky Looie. In this series a very different Looie is looking for a job and manages every time he gets one to have an accident that, of course, causes him to lose the job. 

Finally, in the Philadelphia North American Taylor penned another version of Unlucky Looie, this one representing some of his last comics work before he died in 1914 at age 38 -- making him, I hate to say, just as luckless as some of his characters.


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Wednesday, July 26, 2023


Firsts and Lasts: The Teenie Weenies Retire

 William Donahey's very long-running Sunday page, The Teenie Weenies, would have been a half-century gold medalist except that it went on hiatus for two long spells, 1924-33 and 1935-41. But having debuted in 1914, when it ended on February 15 1970 the kiddies who read it from the start were now at retirement age. 

Donahey died on February 1 1970 at age 87, and the final Sunday page was run on February 15. According to his obituary in the New York Times, Donahey penned this final installment in November 1969, planning to retire. Sadly he offered no farewell in that Sunday's episode, so it was a nice touch that the Chicago Tribune added the notice of his passing below the final episode. 

Fun Fact: The Teenie Weenies cut-out characters were a standard feature of the Sunday page in its final run, 1941 to 1970. If you had cut out the character each week you would have had quite a tableau to organize for display -- there would have been 1496 little standing characters total. 


The Teeny Weenies were a favorite of my Mother, and read Donahey's novelisations of them, or rather, illustrated story books about them, with such titles as "The Teeny Weenies Under the Rose Bush"(but there was nothing Sub Rosa going on). Sorry about that. But I ask a question, Why did he quit the series for those nine and then six year periods?
Donahey disliked using his Teenie Weenie characters in comic strips (as opposed to illustrated stories), and when the Trib put the screws to him he did it as a strip under duress. In 1924 when he decided to end it, he also thought he was going to get rich off of books and products marketed with the characters, which did not come to pass.

The short middle run in 1933-34 (a strip) I think was done because he needed the money, and as soon as his contract was over he dropped it again.

Only in 1941, when the Trib decided he could do it the way he liked, did he bring it back for the third and final long run.

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Monday, July 24, 2023


Obscurity of the Day: Gummer Street


25-year old adman Phil Krohn came up with the idea for Gummer Street while taking walks in "slum areas," according to a promo article in Editor & Publisher (August 22 1970). The cast of characters included two older women, the abrasive Shirley and saintly Darcy, plus an aimless young man named Floyd, Harold Cooney the cop, and a pool hall populated by the Green Sloth Gang and pool shark Pops Sharkey. With an eclectic cast and a drawing style that strongly evoked B.C. and Wizard of Id, most of the ingredients were there for a popular strip. What was missing, unfortunately, was humour. Krohn's gags are mostly tired stuff, the familiar material from bad sitcoms and also-ran comic strips. When he comes up with more original gags they often don't manage to stick the landing. 

Billed by United Feature Syndicate as a hip new strip for a younger generation, quite a few newspaper clients took a chance on it, making space on their comics pages for the daily strip's debut on September 14 1970*. A Sunday was eventually added, the earliest of which I can find are from mid-1971. But already by then clients had seen enough and many were jumping ship. The strip ended on November 11 1972** after a two-plus year run, now in few papers. The Sundays are so scarce I cannot offer anything like definitive running dates. Anyone?

An odd postscript -- although Gummer Street was a dead-end in the States, apparently in Italy it was a minor hit. My best guess? The Italian translator punched up the gags for that audience. 

Postscritto numero due: it strikes me as interesting that the scenario for Gummer Street is quite a bit like Casey from the late 70s; both set in the grimier end of the inner city, and both featuring cops and oddball characters. I'd like to say that Casey, which was an absolutely fabulous feature, showed what Gummer Street ought to have been. But I can't say that because both strips lasted almost exactly the same amount of time! Guess maybe I wouldn't make such a great syndicate editor as I'd like to think I would.

*Source: Knoxville News-Sentinel, E&P 8/22/1970.

** Source: Murfreesboro News-Journal.


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Sunday, July 23, 2023


Wish You Were Here, from Little Nemo


Here's another in the Little Nemo series of postcards from Raphael Tuck. The big question: is this scene an adaptation from the comic strip, or an original scene dreamt up by the anonymous artist of this series? 

Btw, the word "sweet" is what's printed on the card, not "sweat" as it looks like because the text is printed on top of a stray detail in the art!


Looks like this one is part strip, part imagination, loosely based on 1906/06/24.
Great catch Brian. Thanks!
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