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.
Labels: Herriman One-Shots
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.
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.
Wednesday, August 23, 2023
Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: J. Kenneth Jonez
J. Kenneth Jones, formerly of the Associated Press, has joined the staff of the New York Herald Tribune as a reporter.
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.
J. Kenneth Jones, of the reportorial staff, New York Herald Tribune, has been transferred to the sales staff of the syndicate department.
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.
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.
... 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.
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.
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.
Labels: Ink-Slinger Profiles
Tuesday, August 22, 2023
Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Virginia Huget
... 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 …
…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 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.
“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.
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.
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.
... 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.
Labels: Ink-Slinger Profiles
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.
Labels: Magazine Cover Comics
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?
Labels: Wish You Were Here