Saturday, September 23, 2023


Herriman One-Shots: December 29 1901


The early McClure comics sections often had an interior page devoted to gag cartoons, usually by a cadre of their regular artists. This page from December 29 1901 offers either one or two Herriman cartoons. The one in the upper left is definite, while the unsigned one in the middle has me scratching my head. The art looks very much like Herriman, but he seldom did anthropomorphic animal gags in these early days; what say you?

The others represented on this page are Hy Mayer (bottom two-panel), Mark Fenderson (left middle), and A.D. Reed (right 4-panel strip). The well drawn gag cartoon at the top middle is initialed W.L. That's not a McClure regular I can think of. Other possibilities that fit the initials are William H. Loomis (here's a sample of his work) and Will Lawler; the latter doesn't usually draw like this, so what do we think of Loomis as our mystery artist?


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Friday, September 22, 2023


Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Ric Estrada

Ric Estrada was born Ricardo Leon Estrada on February 26, 1928, in Havana, Cuba, according to an obituary in the Deseret News (Utah), May 7, 2009. The Utah Cemetery Inventory, at, said his parents were Jose Ignacio Florencio Estrada Y Cambon and Zilia Ascension Carbo. Profiles at Lambiek Comiclopedia, Norman Rockwell Museum, and Wikipedia said Estrada immigrated to the United States in 1947 with help from an uncle and Ernest Hemingway. A record of his arrival has not been found at 

Estrada attended the University of Havana, the Art Students League of New York, New York University, and the School of Visual Arts. The Landon School of Illustrating and Cartooning (2009) said Estrada was a student. 

The 1950 United States Census counted Estrada and his widow mother, Zilia, in Manhattan, New York City at the Oakdale Hotel, 36 West 35th Street. He was a commercial artist. 

On March 17, 1954, Estrada and his wife, Vera, sailed on the steamship Flandre bound for Le Havre, France. They returned to New York, aboard the steamship  Liberte, on May 13, 1954. Their address was 644 Riverside Drive, New York City. 

During the 1950s, Estrada produced art for a number of comic book publishers. His credits are at the Grand Comics Database. The Flash Gordon comic strip was drawn by many artists. American Newspaper Comics (2012) said Alberto Becattini credited Estrada (who was ghosting for Dan Barry) for the daily pencils from November 10 to December 27, 1958 (“Derelict of the Skorpi War”); daily pencils from March 9 to 28, 1959 (“Lost Legion”); and daily inks from July 10 to 28, 1961 (“Titanic II”). 

In 1958 Estrada visited Cuba. He returned on September 28 at Miami, Florida. His New York address was 11 Waverly Place. 

Estrada was naturalized on July 27, 1959. 

On June 17, 1960, Estrada, Vera, and their five-year-old daughter, Zilia, arrived in Southampton, England. Ger Apeldoorn said Estrada worked in Germany for three years.

The New York Amsterdam News, July 1, 1967, named Estrada as one of four judges at the Hamilton Grange Annual Outdoor Art Exhibition. 
... Judges for the competition were: Miss Adele Glasgow of Market Place Gallery, Roy LaGrone Art Director of Pageant Magazine, Ric Estrada, instructor at Famous Artist[s] Schools and Mel Tapley, Amsterdam News cartoonist. ... 
Estrada was an art director for the Famous Artists School

New York, New York Marriage License Indexes, at, said Estrada and Loretta Renae Badura obtained, in 1970, Manhattan marriage license number 20754. They would have eight children. 

The Herald Statesman (Yonkers, New York), April 29, 1976, reported the upcoming program at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Scarsdale.
Mormons slate an open house
Two original productions will be featured at an open house entitled “Patriots, Prophets and Punch.” Friday, April 30, at 8 p.m. at the 

A humorous reading on “America’s Prophetic Destiny” will feature actors in the parts of Abe Lincoln, Ben Franklin and Brigham Young. The work has been written by Ric Estrada of New Rochelle, a writer and cartoonist on the team which creates the Superman Family comic books, and Jim Larkin, an independent television producer. ...
The Tarrytown Daily News (New York), March 2, 1978, published Estrada’s illustration of his fantasy million-dollar donations. The article said in part
… To illustrate the situation, take the predicament of Ric Estrada of Tuckahoe, who in the past two weeks has been taken on a financial roller coaster ride by his local bank. Through the miracle of modern computer technology, the bank first made Estrada, a commercial artist, a pauper with a $30 million overdraft, and days later wealthy beyond his wildest dreams.

… A teller at the bank examined his account and found he was $30 million overdrawn. The manager laughed and promised to rectify the error.

… Several days later, his wife, Loretta, went to the bank and received a statement showing they had a $30 million balance.

… But, Estrada remains unruffled by the entire affair. “It keeps changing from day to day,” he said. “But I’m sure they’ll get it worked out.”

Estrada was an instructor at the Joe Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic Art

Heritage Auctions said Estrada ghosted for Fred Kida on The Amazing Spider-Man strip in 1983. 

At the 2000 San Diego Comic-Con International, Estrada received an Inkpot Award for outstanding achievement in the comic arts. 

Deseret News said Estrada worked 
in book illustration, advertising, political cartooning, comic books, and in animation as a storyboard director. Ric’s most rewarding professional assignment was illustrating the 1980 edition of The New Testament Stories published by the LDS Church. Ric wrote articles for Dance Magazine and Famous Artist’s Schools, screenplays, several novels (unpublished) and completed his personal memoir only months before his passing. 
Estrada passed away on May 1, 2009, in Provo, Utah. He was laid to rest at the Provo City Cemetery

Further Reading and Viewing
TwoMorrows, Alter Ego interview
The Fabulous Fifties
Who’s Who of American Comic Books 1928–1999
More Heroes of the Comics (2016)
The Mormon Pioneer Songbook (1980)
A Motley Vision
News From ME
Filmfodder, Rest In Peace, Ric Estrada
Abeling St., Family Tree


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Wednesday, September 20, 2023


Selling It: Along The Milky Way


Today when you walk into a grocery store for a gallon of milk, and you're looking for just good old fashioned moo juice, you are generally greeted with the products of a single local dairy. Back in the day, though, there were often a cadre of smaller dairies competing for your business. Naturally these dairies advertised in your local paper, and sometimes they contracted with an ad agency that provided nice little eye-catchers like the panels above titled Along The Milky Way

I don't know which ad company sold Along The Milky Way, but they sure sold the heck out of it in the late 30s and 40s. The panels were drawn in a nice grease-pencil style by Gretchen Philips, who we met once before back in a 2007 post; she was the original artist on Style Smiles.

The earliest I can find Along The Milky Way appearing is in July 1939*, but according to a short article about Philips that ran in the Kearney Daily Hub (September 22 1939), she had been drawing the feature for two years by that point.

The panel seemed to be geared to approximately a weekly schedule, though of course once the backstock had built up the sky was the limit for an ambitious dairy. The last I see the panel being used is in 1948**, but that material could well have been years old by that time.  

There's an interesting postscript about this ad panel. Around March 1942 the panel gained a new subtitle, Dairy Tales, a new artist, a continuing cast of kids, and a very different style. Here's a sample:

The art was sometimes signed with a scrawl that looks like "Cobb", but my bet is that these panels are the work of Ferd Johnson, assistant/ghost on Moon Mullins. His fingerprints are all over that art. 

Why the panel got such an extreme makeover is anyone's guess, but it apparently didn't go down too well with many of the dairies buying the ads. Some dairies stopped running the panel and others used or re-used Gretchen Philips panels. The Dairy Tales version of the panel came and went like a flash -- the latest I can find it running is in May 1942.

* Source: Indiana Evening Gazette, Hanover Sun.

** Source: Palm Beach Post.


On Monday we had angry badgers. Today, it's Badger Milk! What did they do? Herd badgers around all day, and then line them up in their stalls in late afternoon, attach hoses to their little teats, and pump 'em dry? I wonder how the nutrition profile of badger milk compares with soy milk, almond milk, dandelion milk, kelp milk, and all the others which are available today. I hear that wolverine milk is the best, but the wolverine milkers get torn to shreds on a regular basis. You think angry badgers are bad — try getting on the wrong side of an angry wolverine!
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Monday, September 18, 2023


Obscurity of the Day: Foolish Ferdinand


William F. Marriner's output was prodigious, and an amazingly high percentage of it was just like today's obscurity, Foolish Ferdinand; playful strips about kids getting up to relatively innocent shenanigans. Marriner's giant-headed kids are a breath of fresh air for comics sections in which the typical kid comic strip star was rotten to the core and more dangerous than an angry badger. 

For the Philadelphia Inquirer Marriner penned this long-running series, Foolish Ferdinand, off and on from December 29 1901 to February 21 1904. Sometimes a longer title was used, The Fortunes of Foolish Ferdinand, and the series was quite scattershot in its appearances as Marriner often turned out one-shots instead for that Sunday section.

Thanks to Cole Johnson for the scan.


How dangerous is an angry badger, really?
Good for you having something better to do with your time than watch honey badger videos:

Most fearless, badass animal on Earth.
Hello Allan-
Cole assumed the Inquirer might have started syndicating their material sometime in 1903, when they started putting things in regular size categories. Obviously the above sample would have only appeared in the Inky, but also at some time, Ferdinand would have been in client papers.
What are your thoughts on when they went national?
Mark, I haven't done any kind of study of that question, so I just took a perusal of my collection, which is practically bereft of early Inky material, syndicated or in the home paper. I assume that around Philly where you are those early sections are as common as cheese steak sandwiches. Anyhow, my earliest Inky strips appearing outside Philly are from 1905, and were syndicated to the Boston Herald at that time. But given the thinness of my collection on this issue, I wouldn't for a moment take that as being any kind of proof. Do you recall what papers ran the Inky stuff circa 1903? --- Allan
Actually I don't know of any- I might be right in assuming the St.Louis Globe-Democrat had it as early as 1904, The Los Angeles Herald in 1905, but I don't know if Cole had any actual incidents of syndication in 1903.

The last Inquirer offering that was a full page was 28 September 1902. Henceforth, to the day they closed the doors on the project, all Inky strips are the rigid,uniform half-pagers that they were always to be seen in for the next twenty-odd years.
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Sunday, September 17, 2023


Wish You Were Here, from Rube Goldberg


Here's a real Grade-A, cream of the crop example of Rube Goldberg's Foolish Questions. These gags, which were also collected in book form, were issued as postcards by Samson Bros. as Series #213. The publisher seemed to pick the ones that got the postcard treatment more or less at random, and some are, I hate to say, kinda stinkers. But this is Goldberg going over the moon.


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