Wednesday, January 24, 2024


Mystery Strip: Sonny Boy and Troubles


Here's a real headscratcher from my collection. I have a bound portfolio of these strips, titled Sonny Boy and Troubles. Each full-page colour strip is copyright by Alltone Company and dated 1924. The art, however, is uncredited. The binding, which offers no additional information, is what I might call semi-professional. Probably not something done on someone's kitchen table, but also probably not destined for retail sale, either. The pattern-decorated boards are bound with a gauze strip which covers the stapled spine. The book is 12.25" wide and 16.5" tall. Each of the 12 leaves is printed on one side only. 

The Alltone Company that copyrighted these strips may be one I tracked down from this era in Milwaukee Wisconsin. They were some sort of printing concern. 

The simple stories vary between fantasies like above and the more mundane. They are all told in rhyme. The writing is good enough for what it is and the stories are imaginative given that they are just eight-panels with no continuity from page to page. The art is sometimes a bit stiff, but the layouts and especially the sumptuous colouring make each page a real beauty. 

I can find only one reference on the web to this material: three eBay listings by a single seller offering individual pages of strips that appear in my book. The seller claims that their pages were associated somehow with a grocery store in Minnesota (found there by the seller I assume?). The seller says his are on "cardboard poster" stock. Mine are on slick coated paper. His sheets are a bit taller and skinnier than mine. The skinnier width might be because the stapled binding has been cut away, but the photos clearly show that his pages have a taller top margin than mine. 

It seems a shame that no one took credit for these impressive pages, and of course, the mystery of how and why they came to be is tugging at me. But I'm all out of avenues to pursue. Anyone have any ideas?


Hello Allan-

Here's a few ideas- They are made to show off the abilities of the printing company, in production of advertising mats. This shows what high grade work they could put into magazine or newspaper adverts.

It might also something to show possible clients for some kind of tie-in with a local merchant; an ad every week with a colour comic strip on the back, in a free in-store flyer or junk mail.
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