Saturday, March 16, 2024


One Shot Wonders: Nine Red Jokes by Clarence Rigby, 1898


Clarence Rigby, who made the rounds of many syndicates around the turn of the century, pulls out all the stops with some impressive cartooning on this half-page one-shot, but then doesn't really follow through in the gag department. This seems like a Family Feud game show category -- name nine things that are red, and you'll get a big smooch from Richard Dawson. 

This one-shot ran in the New York World on January 30 1898.


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Friday, March 15, 2024


Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Chester Sullivan

(An earlier profile was posted in 2020.) 

Chester Milo Sullivan was born on March 12, 1898, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, according to his birth certificate at His parents were Frank and Margrethe. Sullivan’s middle name was on his World War II draft card. 

In the 1900 United States Census, Sullivan was the youngest of four siblings. His family resided in Minneapolis at 759 Washington Street NE. Sullivan’s father was a post office clerk. The family’s address was the same in the 1910 census. 

Sullivan attended East High School. He was the art editor of the school’s monthly magazine, The Spectator

1915 Cardinal yearbook

During World War I Sullivan enlisted in the Marine Corps on July 3, 1918. He was a gunnery sergeant stationed with the Central Reserve Division. His veteran’s file said he was discharged on December 20, 1918. 

According to the 1920 census, Sullivan’s mother, a widow, was the head of the household. The family of four lived at the same address. Sullivan was unemployed.

Sullivan continued his education at the University of Minnesota. He was a member of the fraternity, Delta Tau Delta, and the Aero Club


Minneapolis city directories from 1922 to 1928 listed Sullivan as a commercial artist who lived at 759 NE Washington. 

American Newspaper Comics (2012) said Sullivan was the first artist on the series, Men Who Made the World, which ran from September 21, 1925 to April 16, 1927. The following artists were not credited. Writer Granville E. Dickey was replaced by Dr. Elliott Shoring who may or may not exist. John F. Dille Company was the syndicate.

The Federal Illustrator, Summer 1926, said
Chester Sullivan Illustrates Educational Feature
Chester Sullivan is another young man who following his association with the Federal Schools as an instructor placed a very successful feature, “Men Who Made the World,” with the National Syndicate. This strip is now running in a large number of papers, whose readers keenly appreciate the picture narrative of the “Men Who Made the World.”

John F. Dille, President of the National Newspaper Service says of the feature:

Human emotions, motives, personality and great deeds lend the spectacular to this great feature. It is brilliantly written by an historical authority—Granville Dickey, and superbly drawn by a great illustrator—Chester Sullivan.

In 1929 Sullivan’s address was 2555 Bryant Avenue South. 

On February 11, 1929, he married Marian Lund in Minneapolis.

The 1930 directory said they resided at 2808 Chowen Avenue South. The same address was recorded in the 1930 census. Sullivan was a self-employed advertising artist who had a five-month-old daughter.

According to the 1940 census, the Sullivans lived at 2100 Dupont Avenue South in Minneapolis. Sullivan operated an art studio. He had three years of college.

On February 16, 1942 Sullivan signed his World War II draft card. His home and studio was at 3517 West 28th Street in Minneapolis. He was described as five feet eight inches, 150 pounds with gray eyes and brown hair. He enlisted in the Army on on June 24, 1942. His rank was first lieutenant. 

The Army Air Force magazine, Brief, August 15, 1944, mentioned Sullivan’s contribution to the Tarawa Cricket Club. 
Acutely conscious of certain trends, 1st Lt. Robert North of Alhambra, Calif., decided that something drastic should be done to offset the inroads made in the Pacific by that amiable, sprawling outfit labeled the Short Snorters. 

He conferred with M.Sgt Norman Hoch, a citizen in good standing of Oklahoma City, and they decided that there was a crying need for some sort of exclusive organization in the South Seas, where all sorts of improbable things happen. The Short Snorters, they opined, was getting pretty loose. It used to be limited to those persons who had flown over a body of water, but now it could happen to anybody, like Athlete’s Foot, or rundown heels.

So they founded the Tarawa Cricket Club, and might have run something up a pole to commemorate the occasion, but poles are scarce in that country. Instead, they enlisted the aid of Maj Peter S. Paine of New York City, and Maj Chester M. Sullivan, of Minneapolis, Minn., to help them get under way. 

In case you've wondered, the name comes from the fact that there are a lot of idle cricket fields laid out on the islands. The English used to play the game there before the war, but have given it up for more strenuous activities. 

Maj Sullivan designed a stamp, and unless you’ve had some business in the Pacific war you won’t ever get any closer to it than you are right now. That’s how the thing was made exclusive. Stamps are being distributed to other points—there will be a Kwajalein Chapter, Saipan, Guam, perhaps a Truk Chapter, a Philippines, and no doubt a Tokyo Chapter under the parent Tarawa nucleus. 

The stamps will be held on each island by some responsible officer, probably the S-2, and if you care to join, look him up and he’ll stamp a replica of the informal coat of arms on your stationery, birth certificate, a pair of souvenir panties, or anything else that will take the ink. It costs you a dollar, which is used to buy more stamps for other chapters. 

It was felt that the club would promote a certain comraderie [sic] among the men, for it is a thing that is really exclusive. No outsiders can join—you absolutely have to be on the island before you can join. 

You can have a bill stamped and dash around collecting signatures if you like, but the originators look down their noses frostily on the practice. 

The club is open to everyone from Dogfaces up, and there’s some highpowered company in it. Even generals—especially generals—are potential members, and some belong now. Maj Gen Willis H. Hale belongs, and plugs the club for a commendable venture, according to Lt North. 

Membership won’t make you any money or when you get back home (wars always HAVE cure very many of the ills man is heir to, but ended) you’ll have something as exclusively South Seas as atoll-fishing.
Sullivan’s veteran’s file said he was a lieutenant colonel at his discharge on September 9, 1944. 

The 1950 census counted Sullivan, his wife and daughter in Minneapolis at 120 West 32nd Street. He was a freelance artist who serviced advertising agencies. 

Sullivan retired from the Air Force on August 31, 1958. 

Sullivan illustrated the 1964 book, A Secret for Christmas

Sullivan passed away on February 10, 1973, in Minneapolis. He was laid to rest at the Fort Snelling National Cemetery


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Wednesday, March 13, 2024


Obscurity of the Day: It Seems Like Yesterday


Many local strips look a little rough around the edges, but Howard Overback and Ernie Hager produced a very fine looking feature in It Seems Like Yesterday, which they sold to the Oregon Journal. It looked so professional that when I stumbled across a few clipped samples of the feature in an old scrapbook I thought for sure it had to have been syndicated. 

Luckily the clips I found betrayed their origin as the Oregon Journal, and it turned out that GenealogyBank, a newspaper archive website I rarely use, had many years of the paper at my disposal. GenealogyBank, by the way, has a user interface much inferior to its sister site,, and its servers are deadly slow. Watching a newspaper page load can make me quite nostalgic for downloading on a 1200 baud modem connection. Unless there's specific material you need that is only on GenealogyBank, and they do have exclusives on  a number of major papers like the Oregon Journal, I would suggest giving them a pass. 

Anyhow, after many hours of watching dust accumulate on my laptop screen as I researched the short run of It Seems Like Yesterday, I can tell you that the feature began running in the Sunday magazine section on July 28 1940. The creators soon talked the Journal into taking their brainchild on a 6-day per week basis, and the feature became a daily on September 30. Everything went tickety-boo for a year and a half, and then Pearl Harbor inconveniently got bombed. Seeing the writing on the wall for these two 20-something creators, they ended with a farewell panel on March 27 1942. Overback was called up in summer 1942, and Hager probably about the same time. While Overback doesn't seem to have gone back into the stripping business when he got home, Hager did, as another of his obscure strips, Stubby Stout, has been covered here on the blog.


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Tuesday, March 12, 2024


Mystery Cartoonist: Three Samples from 1914


Shoehorning an extra post in on Tuesday this week hoping SG readers can help me through what I think might just be a mental block. 

As I'm slogging through my boxes of unsorted material trying to bring some semblance of order, I came upon these three strips, evidently clipped out of an August 1914 bound volume of some midwest paper (I can't narrow it down any farther based on these tearsheets). 

The style seems familiar but unfortunately not singular enough for that "Aha!" moment for me. I thought H.T. Webster but no, I thought Maurice Ketten but no, none of them quite make sense. Can you help?!


I can't not think of Jules Feiffer...
Out of interest, what's on the other side of these clippings? The little bits of text visible on the edges of these appear to be syndicated blurbs, as they show up in a bunch of papers of the (narrow) time period. I might be able to narrow things down if I could spot, say, a store's advertisement. It's obviously an evening paper, though, based on one blurb.
Mostly stock prices, a few ads indicate a midwest location. Since they would have been clipped out of my cache of bound volumes, there's a decent chance they were clipped from a Minneapolis volume, as I had stacks of them.
Got it. These are from the Minneapolis Journal. "The Morning Greeting" strip is from page 26 of the 8/7/1914 issue. "That Settles It" is on page 16 of the 8/17/1914 issue. "Five Minutes" is from page 14 of the 8/24/1914 issue. All of these are available on newspapers dot com.
And they're by .....?
Charles Bartholomew ("Bart") was The Journal's editorial cartoonist at the time. Does the style in the above strips match any of the dozen or so listed in American Newspaper Comics?
No, Bart has a very recognizeable style. My guess is that this is a syndicated feature. --Allan
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Monday, March 11, 2024


Selling It: The Heartbreak of Pizza Face


Kleerex was a pimple cream originally manufactured in Canada, but the company crossed the border and set up shop in St. Paul Minnesota to manufacture and  market in the well. The company seems to have come on the scene in the mid-1920s, and the U.S. arm was active by the end of the decade.

In the 1940s Kleerex hit upon the idea of making comic strip ads, and it must have worked like a charm because they're so often seen they're almost like ... er ... zits on a teenager? Most of the comic ads were black and white affairs for running in weekday papers, but a few Sunday colour ads also extolled the virtues of Kleerex for zapping face invaders. 

The comic strip ads from the 1940s plow very familiar ground; that some girl or guy could be a movie star if it just weren't for that darn skin turbulence. Dab on a little Kleerex, and voila, the cartoonist doesn't spray black dots all over your face in the next panel!

So why am I dredging this up? Well, it seems that the cartoonist who drew many of those strips is none orther than Al Papas, who (as you can see above) signed his work on occasion. Papas was an easy find for the Kleerex folks, because he was the sports cartoonist at the Minneapolis Star, right in St. Paul's back yard. 

The subject matter might have been a little icky, but Al did a beautiful job on these strips, like the one above that ran in the Detroit News on December 28 1947. But the party didn't last. By 1950 the cartoon ads had disappeared, and a few years later Kleerex stopped advertising in the US altogether. By 1956 they seem to have either gone down the tubes even in Canada, or were advertised through other venues.


As a former Pizza Face (early 60s), I am presented horrible memories by seeing this strip.
I had to re-read the strip to be sure the guy in the blue suit is supposed to be a fellow student. With that receding hairline he looks like a teacher so the last panel brought me up short. Come to think of it, Nancy gains several years after her Kleerex treatment. Maybe the relationship is appropriate after all.
My problem was an extreme case; I was a Pepperoni Pizza face. Fortunately I found some Kleerex at a bottle dig site, and my salvation arrived.
As a theater kid of the 70s I call BS. None of us adolescents were in a position to discriminate on the basis of pimples. Onstage we had to wear greasy makeup, which covered the zits (possibly making them worse) so complexion didn't figure in casting. Under theatrical lighting and paint we all looked, temporarily, good. Only when you got close -- closer than the audience -- would icky facial topography give us away.

During this era there was a Clearasil commercial on "American Bandstand". A too-pretty teen couple is enacting "Romeo and Juliet" and the guy is looking down and mumbling his lines. He has two or three red specs on his unpainted visage. Voiceover: "I was the lead in the class play ... and all I could think about was everybody staring at my unsightly acne blemishes." Didn't those advertising guys know any actual theater kids? My face and back could be erupting like Vesuvius, but I'd give a performance!

Comic strip ads in the newspaper ... very rare in my memory. Comic strip ads in actual comic books, on the other hand, were reasonably common. The much-parodied Charles Atlas was evidently successful enough to run constantly, and DC had odd public service ads (Superman denouncing prejudice as unpatriotic, Miss America revealing that girls like her go for non-smokers, etc.). Also, for some reason, trade school ads. Somebody figured this was the medium and format to reach adults in need of career guidance. But no acne comic strips. Just the occasional offer of a blackhead extractor.
The reason It disappeared may have been that Kleenex was a mercury based product.
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Sunday, March 10, 2024


Wish You Were Here, from Albert Carmichael


Here's another postcard from Albert Carmichael's "Anybody Here Seen Kelly?" series. Taylor Pratt & Company Series 668 was based on a 1908 hit song, but presumably paid no royalties for the privilege.


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