Saturday, August 26, 2023


Herriman One-Shots: October 20 1901


Here's the earliest Herriman one-shot from the McClure comic sections that I have in my files. If the gag makes no sense to you, don't despair, it needs some explanation for modern readers. 

 One of the stereotypes of black men in that day was that they were gambling-mad, and that one form of that pursuit they particularly favoured were the numbers games. The numbers games were also known as the policy racket, and were run out of policy parlors. These were gambling games where you would pick a number, usually between 1 and 999, and then either a drawing would be held to pick the winning number, or some semi-random number, like the last three digits of the stock market close for the day, would be used as the winning number. 

I say it is a stereotype, but it was an uncomfortably truthful one. Some numbers games could be played for mere pennies, and so the games held great appeal to the poor, who for a bit of pocket change could get a chance at a meager but nonetheless attractive jackpot. Who were the poor at this time? Blacks, predominently, plus Irish and Italian immigrants. All were well-known as numbers game players.

In fact, one common feature of black papers well into the mid-century was that cartoons and comic strips often offered up 'lucky numbers' in the panel margins. The same was true for mainstream tabloids, which ran features like Asparagus Tipps, and Figurin' Sam. All this number soup was added to appeal to the numbers players.


Herriman was black, so it's kind of weird that he would go with the stereotype.
Herriman certainly doesn't seem to have been inclined to portray black people favorably, at least not in this era.

In fact, on this blog, we've seen a bunch of Herriman cartoons about Jack Johnson in which the negative portrayals of Johnson specifically related to Johnson's being a black man.

So, unfortunately, it's not that surprising that Herriman went with a stereotype in this strip, as it reflects the trend shown in his Jack Johnson cartoons.
Folks were freer then, and the guy's sense of humor is still appreciated. The better people hate the freedom to bet on things like the last gigits in a Treasury report, let love fake lotteries with nonexistent big winners. Gambling allows natural selection to favor folks who can handle math. Small wonder politicians abhor it.
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Friday, August 25, 2023


Obscurity of the Day: The Superstitions of the Twaddle Twins


You've got to hand it to the Brooklyn Eagle. It was never an important or terribly high circulation paper -- at least by New York City standards -- but they had some skin in the game by consistently running comics from the 1900s onward, almost all of which were produced in-house by their own bullpen. 

Their only real breakout hit was Buttons and Fatty, which had some modest success in syndication, but that is by no means the whole story. Here, for instance, is a Sunday strip called The Superstitions of the Twaddle Twins, which ran from March 30 to July 6 1919. Hal Merritt is the author of this one, and he had a number of series with the Eagle in the 1917-1919 period. My guess is that when some of the better cartoonists went off to war he got his chance up at the plate. 

Merritt wasn't much of a cartoonist but he does have a certain knack for getting good action scenes out of his players. His writing is also not so great -- the entire series is based on a premise long over-used, where a character scoffs at a superstition only to be proven, and painfully so, that the superstition should be heeded. 

The Superstitions of the Twaddle Twins would be Merritt's last comic strip series for the Eagle, and as far as I know, anywhere else.


It's striking that the black kid and the white kids are communicating more or less as equals. That seems unusual for that era, and for cartoons of that era in particular.
Good point Whygh. This paper was published in Brooklyn, a city that was a true melting pot whose readers were of many different cultures, races and ethnicities. The Eagle reflected the somewhat more enlightended attitudes of its readers. Smart of the Eagle! -- Allan
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Wednesday, August 23, 2023


Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: J. Kenneth Jonez

J. Kenneth Jonez was born John Kenneth Jones on February 11, 1903, in Baltimore, Maryland, according to his World War II draft card. 

In the 1910 United States Census, Jones, his parents John and Sarah, lived with his maternal grandparents Benjamin and Sarah Gardner, in Baltimore at 910 North Stricker Street. Jones’ father was a sea captain. 

The 1920 census recorded Jones, his parents and aunt at the same location. 

The Montgomery County Sentinel (Rockville, Maryland), November 16, 1950, profiled Jones and said “he was born in Baltimore and attended McDonogh School in Pikesville and Randolph-Macon Academy in Front Royal, Va.”

A passenger list at listed Jones as a crew member of the steamship Leviathan that arrived in the port of New York on September 6, 1926. 

Jones’ newspaper journey was chronicled in Editor & Publisher.

June 5, 1926
J. Kenneth Jones, formerly of the Associated Press, has joined the staff of the New York Herald Tribune as a reporter.
October 2, 1926
J. Kenneth Jones of the New York Herald Tribune staff, who made a round trip voyage to France as a seaman, has returned to work.
November 27, 1926
J. Kenneth Jones, of the reportorial staff, New York Herald Tribune, has been transferred to the sales staff of the syndicate department. 
January 7, 1928
J. Kenneth Jones, formerly with the Baltimore Sun, and later with the Paris office of the New York Herald Tribune, is now assistant editor of the Newspaper Feature Service, New York.
April 13, 1929
Bell Syndicate, Inc. has started a new daily continuity strip, called “Tark.” It is drawn by Aslan Bey and the continuity is written by J. Kenneth Jovey [sic]. The central character is a detective.
It’s not known if Tark was ever published. 

In trade magazines, Jones was spelled with an S. “J. Kenneth Jonez” was used for his newspaper work. That was Jones’ intention. The book, Paris Herald: The Incredible Newspaper (1947), detailed one such misspelling. 
... Next morning the Herald had a lead story of about four columns by Pickering. Under its shoulder was Byrd’s own story carrying Byrd’s by-line, a circumstance over which the Times threatened legal proceedings, but did not proceed on advice of counsel. Under Byrd was Jonez’s story. He was made unhappy by the fact that the last letter of his by-line was an “s” instead of a “z” but nobody until then knew of this peculiarity of name. 
In 1929, “Jonez” wrote verse for Virginia Huget’s Miss Aladdin series. 

Jones published some pulp fiction

According to the 1930 census, Jones and his wife were Manhattan residents at 210 East 31st Street. Jones’ occupation was newspaper promotion. 

Broadcasting, November 1, 1939, said 
J. Kenneth Jones, formerly publicity director of the Chicago Community Fund and previously on the continuity and production staff of WHAS, Louisville, has been appointed director of information of the Federal Radio Education Committee, according to an announcement by John W. Studebaker, U. S. Commissioner of Education and chairman of the Committee.
In the 1940 census, Jones was publicity director at Federal Radio Education. He and his wife lived in Washington, DC at 1421 Morse Street. 

Broadcasting, October 1, 1940, said Jones was “appointed program director of the new WINX, Washington local which will go on the air about Oct. 15. He will assume his duties Oct. 1.” 

Broadcasting, June 29, 1942, reported Jones’ military service preparation. 
Lt. J. Kenneth Jones, USN, former continuity and production man at WHAS, Louisville, and afterward director of information of the U. S, Office of Education, has been ordered from Washington to the Chicago district for special training and eventual sea duty. He has been on active duty in the Navy Public Relations Branch since Dec. 3.
On April 12, 1943, Jones signed his World War II draft card. His address was 3800 14th Street, NW, apartment 311, Washington, DC. His employer was the Citizens Emergency Committee. Jones was described as five feet six inches, 155 pounds, with brown eyes and hair. He served in the Navy.

In Alexandria, Virginia, Jones married Iris Gertrude Davis Caffee on March 18, 1946. 

Nation’s Business, August 1949, said Jones lived in Brooklyn. 

Jones has not yet been found in the 1950 census. The Montgomery County Sentinel said Jones resided at 1024 Crawford Drive in Rockville, Maryland.

During 1950, Jones wrote a series of articles for This Week magazine: “The Fight for Life”, February 12, 1950; “My Ten Days in Scotland Yard”, September 17, 1950; “The FBI Wants You”, November 12, 1950; and “My Ten Days as a Santa Claus”, December 12, 1950. 

The Montgomery County Sentinel said Jones wrote for Collier’s, Reader’s Digest, Coronet, Nation’s Business and Pageant. He spent two weeks with the French Foreign Legion. Jones flew with the Acrojets. He was a Hollywood stunt man. Jones was a wild animal trainer under, Damoo Dhotre of Ringling Brothers-Barnum & Bailey Circus. He spent ten days at Scotland Yard and dressed as Santa Claus for ten days. 

Jones wrote I Was There (1953), Destroyer Squadron 23 (1959) and co-authored Admiral Arleigh (31-Knot) Burke (1962).

Jones passed away on April 11, 1967, in Bethesda, Maryland. The Evening Star (Washington, DC), April 12, 1967, printed an obituary. 


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Tuesday, August 22, 2023


Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Virginia Huget

Virginia Huget was born Virginia Dilliard Clark on December 22, 1899, in Dallas, Texas. Her birth name was recorded on her marriage license and at Find a Grave which had her birthplace. 

In the 1900 United States Census, Huget was the youngest of three children born to William and Sarah. They lived in Dallas at 211 Park Street. Her father was a civil engineer.

The 1910 census counted the family twice. Their Dallas address was 161 Lear Street, and their Jackson, Texas home was on Stewart Street. Her mother's name was recorded as Sadie and her father worked for the railroad. During this decade, it appeared her father passed away.

A profile in Editor & Publisher, November 18, 1944, said
... The Southern-born artist started to work first on the New Orleans Item. She was a cousin of the managing editor. “It was probably the only reason I got the job,” she laughed, adding that she was 16 and did fashion and advertising sketches. Next she sketched for the Maison Blanche. 

At 17 she was society editor of the Dallas Journal and from her wise vantage wrote a lonely hearts column. After attending the Chicago Art Institute and flirting with the stage, she “became completely contented” with free lance sketching …
Huget, her mother, youngest brother, older sister and brother-in-law lived in Dallas at 1412 Sanger Avenue, according to the 1920 census. 

On January 15, 1923, Huget married Coon Williams Hudzietz in Texas. 

A Century of Women Cartoonists (1993) said
…she married her childhood sweetheart, Coon Williams Hudzietz, and moved to Chicago, where she attended the Art Institute. The name Hudzietz was pronounced Huget, so in 1926, when the artist sold her first strip, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, to the Bell syndicate, it was natural that she signed it not with a suspiciously ‘foreign’ name that was difficult to pronounce, but with the glamorous ‘French-sounding’ Huget.” 
The Fourth Estate, June 5, 1926, said 
The Bell Syndicate is distributing a comic strip based on the adventures of Lorelei and Dorothy, the two super gold-diggers whose adventures in “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes,” the best seller by Anita Loos, have aroused the mirth of the nation. Miss Loos has provided an entertaining scenario for the girls, and the drawings will be done by Virginia Huget, a fashion drawing expert.
American Newspaper Comics (2012) said Huget drew the Bell Syndicate strip from April to July 24, 1926. Phil Cook continued the strip from July 26 to September 25, 1936. 

The Fourth Estate, July 24, 1926, identified Huget’s next project. 
“You Said It, Marceline”!
Premier Syndicate announces that, beginning with the August 2nd release, the “You Said It, Marceline!” daily feature will also be available with illustrations by Virginia Huget, whose piquant Jazz Age comic drawings are popular art sensations of the year.

The column will be syndicated in a 6 column, 4 panel illustrated form. Virginia Huget’s drawings will appear in strip.

This feature will also continue in unillustrated form, but the majority of newspapers that publish, “Marceline” have already applied for the Huget illustration service.
[Allan chimes in -- I have yet to find this illustrated version of Marceline d'Alroy's column]. 
Huget’s whereabouts was noted in Editor & Publisher, December 18, 1926. 
Virginia Huget, illustrator of newspaper features, is visiting New York City for a few weeks before returning to her home in Fort Worth, Tex. She is now drawing the humorous strip for “You Said It, Marceline!” column by Marceline d’Alroy, handled by Premier Syndicate of New York.
Huget’s next assignment was reported in Editor & Publisher, October 22, 1927. 
Miss Virginia Huget, Texas girl who formerly illustrated the Anita Loos strip, “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes,” and later the fashion strip, “You Said It Marceline!” for the King Features Syndicate, is now illustrating “Adventurous Anne,” new cover page feature to be offered soon by King.
In the late 1920s, Huget produced several strips including Babs in Society (1927), Merry Mary (1927), Miss Aladdin (1929; written by J. Kenneth Jones), and Double Dora (1929). 

The 1930 census recorded Huget and her family in New York City at 1046 Madison Avenue. She was a commercial artist and her husband was a mechanical engineer. Their 16-month old daughter was born in Texas. 

The family settled in New Rochelle, New York. The 1931 city directory listed Huget as “Virginia C Hudzietz” at 716 Webster Avenue. 

During the 1930s, Huget newspaper series included Campus Capers (1930) and Hollywoodn’t (1935). She illustrated stories of fiction that were distributed by the Bell Syndicate. 

“Careful Young Man Evening”
Recorder (Amsterdam, NY) 6/15/1934

“Glorious Buccaneer Evening”, Recorder (Amsterdam, NY) 8/11/1934

Her illustrations were published in the Monroe Morning World (Louisiana), September 9, 1934 and November 18, 1934

Huget provided the illustrated for the books, Still More Boners (1931) and Prize Boners for 1932

Chicago Daily News 5/25/1932

Huget drew the advertising strip Peggy Lux for art director Paul Berdanier of the advertising agency, J. Walter Thompson and its client Lever Brothers. The strip won an award in the Art Directors’ show according to the April 20, 1935 issues of Advertising Age and Editor & Publisher. Editor & Publisher, November 18, 1944, said “for four years she did the Peggy Lux drawings which in 1937 won a national advertising award.”

American Newspaper Comics said Huget ghosted Percy Crosby’s Skippy, in 1937, for King Features Syndicate. 

The 1940 census said Huget, her husband and three children resided in Kensington, Nassau County, New York, at 50 Nassau Road. She was an advertising artist who earned $3,380 in 1939. 

According to American Newspaper Comics, Huget, as Virginia Clark, continued Don FlowersOh, Diana! from September 27, 1943 to November 27, 1946. The Comics (1991) by Coulton Waugh said 
... Several artists have handled the latter strip since, among whom are Bill Champs and, lately, Virginia Clark, who has proved that a woman cartoonist can turn in an excellent job. Her style is different from that of Flowers, relying less on pure line, but it has its own vivacity. 
Editor & Publisher, November 10, 1945, published photographs and an article about its party for women comic artists Huget/Virginia Clark, Tarpé Mills, Dale Messick, Hilda Terry, Edwina Dumm and Odin Burvik the wife of Coulton Waugh. 

Huget’s mother passed away in 1948. The May 5, 1948 Dallas Morning News named the survivors and said Huget lived in Great Neck, New York.

The 1950 census counted Huget, her husband, daughter and brother, Solomon, in Greenwich, Connecticut on Clapboard Ridge Road. 

Huget’s husband passed away in August 2, 1968 in Rye, New York. 

In 1970 Huget remarried to Francis I. Maslin in Manhattan, New York City. 

Huget passed away on June 27, 1991 in Columbia, South Carolina. The Comics Buyer’s Guide #966, May 22, 1992, published an obituary

Further Reading and Viewing
Comics Buyer’s Guide #899, February 8, 1991
eBay photograph
Huget (Hudzietz, Virginia Dillard Clark) was a member of the Vermont Society of Colonial Dames

(An earlier profile was posted in 2011.)


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Monday, August 21, 2023


Magazine Cover Comics: Francine the Freshie


The magazine cover comic Francine the Freshie by Virginia Huget has that slightly sour smell of a fill-in, penned and scheduled in haste to fill a last minute gap. Since it is the work of Virginia Huget, and we know she's capable of writing a fine jazzy yarn, these short and downright business-like captions really leave us feeling short-changed. Thankfully Huget's art on this series, though certainly rougher than we are used to from her, is nevertheless pleasant to peruse. 

The story, what little there is of it, is that Francine goes off to college and (of course) meets the man of her dreams. However, this series is so short -- only four episodes -- that there is really no proper ending. Francine and "the football star" (he's not even got a name!) connive to get away from the college for a moonlight drive together, and that's it. I guess we are just to assume that love, marriage, babies, and old age pensions are to ensue. 

Francine the Freshie was syndicated by King Features, and ran from August 25 to September 15 1929.


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Sunday, August 20, 2023


Wish You Were Here, from Little Nemo


Next in our series of Little Nemo postcards is this attractive one; oddly it appears to be one of the scarcer of the cards in the series. Perhaps that's because the sentiment is a little too close to an outright  "Will You Marry Me?" for people to send to their sweeties? Did already married couples not participate in the Valentine's Day fun in those days?


This one is based off of the strip from 1906/05/13.
Thanks Brian!
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