Saturday, August 12, 2023
Herriman One Shots: March 16 1902
Here's another one-shot by Herriman from the McClure comic section of March 16 1902. This one 'celebrates' St. Patrick's Day with a tableau of gag cartoons, all featuring highly stereotyped Irishmen.
For those not keyed into Irish religious politics, the 'Greens' are the Irish Catholics, and the 'Orange' are the Protestants. As Patrick is a Catholic saint, Orangemen do not observe his day.
And 'spalpeen' is a most wonderful term for a rascal or mischievous person, but also used as a general derogatory term. The sort of delicious word that makes me wish I had enemies on which it could be used.
Labels: Herriman One-Shots
Friday, August 11, 2023
It's a good thing I don't actually talk about strips but type about them, because I would have shown an embarrassing gap in my knowledge when I pronounced the name of this strip. For years and years I thought the gal in the strip had a name that rhymed with "suits". Of course as you well know, her name rhymes with "puts". And if you didn't know, well, you're welcome. My wife, who has exactly 0.00005213% the interest in comics that I do, heard me say the name of the strip out loud and quietly corrected me without batting an eye. Yeah, she's a swell gal that way.
Anyhow, to the subject at hand. Jimmy Murphy's Toots and Casper was a sort of melange of The Newlyweds and their Baby, the George McManus classic, and Blondie, which didn't exist until this strip was a decade old. Our two title characters are young marrieds, much in love, and dimwitted enough to make a hash of something every day just in time to give readers a guffaw or groan. Buttercup the baby came along early in the life of the strip, and the doting parents gained all those old McManus gags to reenact.
Toots and Casper was a Hearst product, and in 1926 when the decree to add toppers came down, Murphy stepped right up to bat with Hotsy-Totsy, wich debuted on January 10 1926* along with most of the other Sunday pages in the Hearst stable.
Hotsy-Totsy was a ridiculously repetitive strip in which a pair of cooing sweethearts while away the hours because they can't bear to part. All that really changes from strip to strip is the location -- in a car, on the phone, in a park, etc. After a few months of that the lovers gain names, Gerald and Doris, and Murphy puts a little, and I really mean a little, effort into offering different gags.
Just as Murphy was starting to give his young sweeties a little personality the strip was replaced with It's Papa Who Pays, which would run for the next thirty years. Hotsy-Totsy ended on April 18 1926*.
* Source: Palm Beach Post.
Labels: Topper Features
Wednesday, August 09, 2023
Obscurity of the Day: Jolly Jingles (a different one)
If you were here with us on Monday you read about Jolly Jingles by Dudley Fisher. Today we're going to cover an unrelated but identically titled feature that ran during the same period. This coincidence has gotten most printed and online histories all balled up, melding information about the two features and coming up with one Frankenstein feature that stitches it all back together in a bit of a mess. So let's set the record straight, shall we?
Graham Hunter's Jolly Jingles, unfortunately, is very hard to track because it went through perhaps as many as four different syndicates in its short life, and hardly sold to any papers from any of them. So while we can unravel it from Fisher's version, definitive data about Hunter's is scarce.
Why were clients so rare? Hunter's cartooning was quite nice, but his poetry .... well, regular visitors here know that I have a low threshold of pain when it comes to poetry, but I think anyone would admit, just based on the samples above, that Hunter was not exactly gifted by the poetry muse. I mean, look at that last example. I don't claim to be a poetry expert, but the meter there is just jarringly wrong. In two minutes flat I was able to come up with an alternative using the same rhymes but that I think scans more properly:
Eugene is practicing the casting art,
But getting off to a very bad start,
He hooks onto an angler's bowler hat,
This lesson is over, time to depart!
Still not a great gag or great poetry, but couldn't Hunter put in a few minutes effort?
Anyway, enough carping. Hunter's Jolly Jingles debuted in the Chicago Tribune on March 9 1924, a new addition to their children's page that ran each Sunday. The strips offer far better rhymes than our samples above because Hunter had a whole week to come up with one winner rather than six stinkers.
The Tribune advertised the strip as available for syndication, but good luck finding a taker for it. I have managed to find exactly one sample outside the Tribune*, from March 1925, and oddly that sample is clearly copyrighted to Readers Syndicate. If the Tribune was sharing distribution with Readers Syndicate, that makes two companies that were making a big fat zilch off the feature. So that's a head-scratcher.
By the end of 1924, the Trib had banished it from their Sunday kids' page, but they continued to advertise it in Editor & Publisher at least as late as October 1925. Ironically the ad makes a big deal about the Trib only syndicating material they run in their home paper, and yet this feature had not seen the light of day there in close to a year.
Apparently the Tribune gave up on it around this time, and the next we see the feature it is now with McClure Syndicate. McClure took it on as a daily feature, and reduced it in size a bit. The weekly strip had generally been five panels, the new daily was four (as seen above). The earliest start I can find for this iteration of the strip is on March 29 1926**.
Here we get another oddity -- in the 1926 E&P Syndicate Directory they duly note the daily strip, but they credit the distributor as Ledger Syndicate! Is this a typo, or is the syndication story of this feature just that convoluted? Anyway, I've never seen a printed sample of the strip bearing a Ledger stamp, so hopefully that's just a red herring.
The new daily Jolly Jingles failed to capture the hearts of many newspaper editors, and the strip ended in 1927. The last I can find it appearing on time and in order is January 29 1927 in the Sioux City Journal, but the Harrisburg Evening News, which ran it with all the consistency of lottery numbers, seems to run material dated perhaps as late as July 1927, though they don't do so until much later in the year.
Graham Hunter went on to a richly varied career in cartooning, but as far as I know never had another syndicated newspaper feature. Can you blame him after this experience?
* Source: St. Joseph News-Press
** Source: Sioux City Journal
Monday, August 07, 2023
Obscurity of the Day: Jolly Jingles
The Columbus Dispatch was a dream paper for lovers of cartooning. Besides a good mix of syndicated material, they offered Billy Ireland's superb The Passing Show page, a For Junior Readers page with great cartoon content, Milton Caniff's early work and lots more. Today we'll look at Jolly Jingles, which was a second gorgeous full page feature of the Sunday Dispatch in its heyday. While The Passing Show featured material of local interest, Jolly Jingles was more universal. Cute gals for the menfolk, fashions for the ladies, and rhyming humour for all.
The Jolly Jingles page began sometime in 1919 (unfortunately the Columbus Dispatch microfilm I reviewed was missing a lot of material for that year so I cannot offer an exact date), penned by Dudley T. Fisher, Jr. The idea, I assume, was to offer readers a magazine-cover feature similar to those offered by the American Weekly and other nationally distributed newspaper Sunday magazines. Unlike the syndicated magazine covers, which often featured outright glamour girl cheesecake, Fisher's girls were attractive but generally modest and fully clothed.
The feature was well-received, and so on September 6 1920 it added a thrice weekly panel in addition to the Sunday appearances. Fisher's capacity for creating his little ditties was soon tested to the limit when thrice-weekly became daily on October 26 1922. The new daily was syndicated by the Universal Feature and Specialty Company, though takers of the feature were very few. With syndication not proving to be the financial boon hoped for, Fisher gave up on the daily after a little under a year, ending September 1 1923.
The Sunday page went on hiatus from July 13 to October 12 1924 -- whether Fisher was contemplating dropping the feature, taking a vacation or or he was under the weather is unknown.
To the delight of Dispatch readers the Sunday page returned, and in 1926 Fisher made a deal with World Color Printing to syndicate it. This went absolutely nowhere, but in the process got him to crank up the daily panel once again. This time it had a very short life, from February 4 to May 1 1926.
Now giving up on half-baked syndication deals, Fisher's lovely colour page continued in the Dispatch for another twelve years. On January 16 1938 Fisher began yet another full page feature titled Right Around Home, a feature in which a big crowd scene was observed from overhead. This feature was earlier tried out as Skylarks, but the new version featured a family that reappeared each week. Jolly Jingles and Right Around Home both ran in the Sunday Dispatch on January 16 and 23rd, and then Jolly Jingles went into retirement. Apparently Fisher admitted that after nearly two decades of coming up with humorous verse he felt that his tank was dry and he needed a change. That change, to Right Around Home, which introduced the little girl Myrtle to the world, would end up becoming Fisher's big feature, widely syndicated well past his death.
An important footnote about this feature: you will find a lot of wrong information in cartooning histories about Jolly Jingles. Part of the reason for this is that there was a second Jolly Jingles feature running concurrently in the 1920s. That second one was a weekday strip by Graham Hunter. Information about this feature and Fisher's version get all balled up together in most cartooning histories. I hope I have set the record straight here on Fisher's Jolly Jingles, and for good measure we'll cover Graham Hunter's version right her on Wednesday. See you then!
Sunday, August 06, 2023
Wish You Were Here from Cobb Shinn
This card was apparently produced by C.W.P., whatever that is, and was part of the "X L Series". It's a normal size card, so maybe this is meant to indicate series 40 in a fancy way? Or that the card is eXceLlent? Nah, that couldn't be it.
Labels: Wish You Were Here