Saturday, October 28, 2023
One-Shot Wonders: The Chess Playing Automaton by Ens, 1897
Who can resist a robot strip from 1897? Not me, that's for sure. Even when the gag falls about as flat as a blindfolded man trying to negotiate an obstacle course. This one appeared in the New York Journal on April 4 1897.
This strip really gives the impression that the cartoonist planned a series. Check out the vignettes in the headline area. Doesn't that seem to say "Hey, wait 'til you see all the great gags I'm going to pen about this robot." But sadly, it seems never to have been. (On the other hand, I don't know that anyone has good enough files of the early Journal Sunday sections to make that call for certain.)
The cartoonist of this one-shot is a fellow I know only as "Ens". Sometimes there's a little more scribble after the ENS letters in his cartoons, or in this case some sort of stick-figure. He only did two series that I know of, both very short runs in 1904 for World Color Printing. We haven't featured either of them on the blog as yet. If anyone has an idea of "Ens"s identity, I'd be thrilled to know about it.
Labels: One-Shot Wonders
Friday, October 27, 2023
Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Rome Siemon
Surprised on Birthday.Jerome Siemon was pleasantly surprised at his home, 613 Ninth street, Thursday evening, by the members of the Jazz orchestra, of which he is the leader, the occasion being his birthday anniversary. The evening was spent with Jazz music and later refreshments were served. They presented Mr. Siemon with a purse of money, wishing him many happy returns of the day.
Mr. and Mrs. Romie Siemons [sic] of Moline left for Chicago this morning where they will make their home. Mr. Siemons has accepted a position in that city. The young couple were married Tuesday, July 24, in Clinton the nuptials coming as a surprise to their many friends. Mr. Siemons is a son of Mrs. Emma Siemons and his bride, who was Miss Beatrice Vogel, a daughter of Thomas Vogel of Rapids City.
Rome Siemon, the fairly widely known cartoonist who got his start in his working life pounding a piano in a nickel movie in Rock Island (he was just a kid and his family was poor) apparently has been doing some Christmas shopping and thinking of poor orphan youngsters. For several years Mr. Siemon, who lives in Hollywood, Calif., has been, taking time out from a busy working career to draw cartoons to help the Moline Good Fellow Christmas fund sponsored by the Dispatch. Rome knows what it is to be up against it at one stage in his career that was in Moline he found the piano playing picking so poor that he thought he was lucky to get a part-time job as a LeClaire hotel elevator operator. If Siemon’s cartoon plea appeals to you, send a contribution to this Christmas program to bring some cheer to needy children and widows to Good Fellow Fund, Moline Dispatch, or drop in with buck or two (or more) and some one at the Dispatch office will be glad to take it.
…Mike [Royer] learned to letter from Mike Arens. Mike Arens learned lettering largely from a man named Rome Siemon, who was the house letterer at Western Publishing, on the West Coast books for years….
Labels: Ink-Slinger Profiles
Wednesday, October 25, 2023
Obscurity of the Day: Doctor Spook's Explorations
Any long-time reader of this space knows that I am a big fan of Albert Carmichael, who in my humble opinion was one of the premier cartoonists in the category of those who simply Draw Funny. Drawing Funny isn't about technical expertise, though it doesn't hurt, it's just a knack some cartoonists have for injecting a sense of fun, animation and joyfulness into their work. In Carmichael's case, his ability shines through even in a series as otherwise lame as Dr. Spook's Explorations.
In this short-lived New York Evening World strip we have a typical nebbish (his profession as a doctor is never really a plot point) who thinks he has found something wonderful (like a well-behaved child, a car that doesn't break down, etc.) and in panel four is disappointed. That fourth panel always ends with the caption "DID HE?", a sort of rimshot that succeeds in adding nothing. Yet I gladly suffer through each episode just to enjoy Carmichael's playful handling of people and settings.
Dr. Spook's Explorations was a weekday strip that ran from September 7 to 30 1909. There were a total of seven episodes.
Monday, October 23, 2023
Magazine Cover Comics: Pretty Polly
In a dream team matchup, Nell Brinkley and Carolyn Wells got together in late 1928 to create the Sunday magazine cover series Pretty Polly. Brinkley did her customary beautiful job delineating those signature well-noodled beauties, while Wells spun a story in vignettes of a girl who feels that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
Polly emulates women in professions she admires, takes on the personality of admired film stars, and it just never works out well for her. Naturally in the final episode, Polly fails to be a copycat and immediately finds true love from a tall, dapper gent who falls in love with the real her.
Pretty Polly started out under the banner of King Features Syndicate on November 18 1928*, and switched over to another Hearst syndicate, International Feature Services, on February 17 1929. The series concluded on March 3**.
A bookkeeping note about this feature as it is listed in my book. I claimed then that there was another series of Pretty Polly that ran in 1927. This was based on a sample from that series I (supposedly) had in my collection. Well, since then I have combed through the collection looking for this 1927 Pretty Polly to no avail, and also failed to find any supporting evidence from online sources. At this point I'm pretty darn sure that the sample I supposedly have is a mistyped record or a cross-linked listing from some other series.
* Source: Philadelphia Bulletin
** Source: Cincinnati Enquirer
Labels: Magazine Cover Comics
Sunday, October 22, 2023
Wish You Were Here, from C.M. Payne
Here's a rare postcard from the collection of Mark Johnson featuring the Coon Hollow Folks, C.M. Payne's headline strip for the Pittsburgh Gazette-Times. There's an interesting story to that strip, hit this link to read the whole bizarre tale, or at least as much as I've been able to unravel of it.
Labels: Wish You Were Here