Saturday, April 27, 2024


One-Shot Wonders: Why Herr Schnitzel Failed in Business by Daniel McCarthy, 1898


Daniel McCarthy was a well-regarded cartoonist in the 1890s, but you'll not have seen much of him on Stripper's Guide because he penned very few series. Luckily we have a one-shot wonder we can show, this full pager that ran in the New York World on April 3 1898. As you can gather from this quite funny (though a bit repetitve) strip, men's social clubs were once all the rage. Only a few are left these days, like the Lions, the Rotarians, the Elks and so on, and I imagine they are holding on by a very slender thread. I for one always thought it would be great to be a member of these clubs, but McCarthy shows us that there was one big downside to them; the constantly outstretched palm that always seemed to be pointed in your direction.


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Friday, April 26, 2024


Toppers: Boots and her Buddies


I really like how the NEA syndicate came up with interesting and original ways to add toppers to their Sundays in the 1920s. Unlike everyone else scrambling to follow in the Hearst footsteps, NEA thought outside the box and didn't slavishly follow the pack. Today's topper is a great example of that.

Boots and her Buddies by Edgar Martin had debuted as a daily strip in February 1924 and NEA clients seemed to really take to it. It was essentially a flapper strip, which could have been strictly a me-too affair, but Martin put his own stamp on it by making Boots an interesting and multi-faceted character and populating the strip with an interesting troupe of second bananas, too. 

By 1926 Boots and her Buddies was firmly ensconced as an NEA A-lister and it could easily have merited a Sunday strip. But NEA at the time was uninterested in supplying more than a 4-page Sunday comic section*, considering that the majority of their clients didn't even publish Sunday editions. But there was a simple solution to that problem when toppers became the latest fashion; make Boots and her Buddies into a topper. For presumably no reason other than a roll of the dice, the Boots topper was paired with Our Boarding House, and the two were wed on September 12 1926**. 

The pairing lasted for five years until NEA finally started relenting on the four-page Sunday strip limit and expanded their Sunday offerings. The final Boots and her Buddies topper ran on October 18 1931. The new topper to Our Boarding House was The Nut Brothers, which was produced by Gene Ahern himself.

An interesting footnote is that the new Boots full page Sunday had already debuted over a month earlier, on September 6, so there were actually two Boots strips running simultaneously for that short period. And that explains the mystery of why the new Sunday page was initially titled Girls rather than Boots and her Buddies. It was to avoid confusion about the duplicate strips.

* The four Sundays were Out Our Way, Freckles and his Friends, Our Boarding House and Salesman Sam.

** All dates from NEA archives at Ohio State University.


Hello Allan-
When Hearst launched the "Puck" section in September 1931, it really caused a big shake up in the comics world.
It would seem NEA's reaction to Puck was to stay competitive and attractive to clients, they'd counter with more strips, which would be new and familiar at the same time.
Also in the fall of 1931, Chicago Tribune and the Ledger syndicate then started to add the equivalent of top strips, though they were at the bottom of the page. "Hairbreadth Harry" cartoonist F. O. Alexander told me the Ledger followed the ChiTrib directly, (and you'll notice they rather revamped their offerings in a near perfect duplication of the Trib's new format) because the Trib now could say they had twice as many titles, counting stuff like "Kitty Higgins" and "That Phoney Nickle" etc; now at no extra cost. The Ledger came up with their own new dazzlers nobody asked for like "The Back Seat Driver", "The Wet Blanket" and Alex's own "High-Gear Homer", which he said he never liked doing, he just had to, because the syndicate wanted to boast that they too had extra titles in their line up.
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Wednesday, April 24, 2024


Obscurity of the Day: Louis Wain's Cat Comic Strip (1st Series)


Starting his artistic career in the 1880s, Louis Wain quickly became a popular and incredibly prolific artist in British publications, where he specialized in humorous cartoons of cats. By his constant appearances in publications like the Illustrated London News, which enjoyed worldwide circulation, his fame spread to the U.S., where William Randolph Hearst saw his material as being a good fit for the New York Journal's new colour comic section.

Wain's densely populated cat cartoon panels, which had no regular recurring title, debuted in the New York Journal on October 17 1897 and ran there for a little over half a year, apparently disappearing after the installment of June 5 1898*. These dates are based on the documentation of the SFACA collection at Ohio State University. However, Dave Strickler's indexing of the early Journal claims an end date of December 11 1898. Perhaps both are right and the Wain cartoons in the latter half of 1898 appeared outside the comics section. Not having seen late examples myself, I cannot say who is right.

Wondering if the Journal cartoons were original material or just reruns from the British press, I tried searching for a few of the individual titles, like Tabby Social Club, on the web. I found no other references to them other than in the Journal, so I assume that these cartoons were original material created for the paper, not reprints. 

Wain's initial series of cat cartoons didn't seem to set New York on fire, and his work was not seen in newspapers here for the next decade. However, on a trip to New York in 1907 Wain succeeded in selling his wares to the Hearst organization once again, eventually leading to a number of series spanning the next decade.

Thanks to Cole Johnson for supplying the scans of this series.


Hello Allan-
Nice to see my brother is still contributing, posthumously.
I don't think these are reprints from some British source, It would seem that Wain, who was a rather prolific penman, submitted material for Hearst over in America because it would be a paying venue, and so he put in several months' worth of his peculiar specialty. I think by the time of the later Wain series, like Toby Maltese, etc., Hearst materials were printed in British publications as well.
Though Wain was a very popular cartoonist, especially famous across the pond, he is more famous today for his ever more deranged artwork, still often feline-centric, done while he slowly lost his mind while in a mental hospital for his last twenty-five or so years of his life. His story is literally textbook stuff in psychological studies. Sad but true.

Not many early strippers have a bio-pic dedicated to them!

The Electrical Life of Louis Wain

1h 51m
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Monday, April 22, 2024


Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Frank Tashlin

Frank Tashlin was born Francis Fredrick Tashlein on February 19, 1913, in Hudson, New Jersey, according to the New Jersey Birth Index, at, and his World War II draft card. His parents were Charles F. Tashlein and Augustine Deloy Maury who married in 1912. The Philadelphia Inquirer (Pennsylvania), August 24, 1912, said 
Virginia Man Gets Marriage License Here
A marriage license was issued here yesterday to Charles F. Tashlein, of 620 West Grace street, Richmond, to wed Augustine Deloy Maury, age 30, dressmaker, of West Forty-eighth street, New York city. Tashlein’s first wife died in New York city May 13, 1911. Mrs. Maury’s first husband died in New York six years ago.
Tashlin and his parents have not yet been found in the 1920 United States Census. The 1925 New York state census counted the trio in Long Island City, Queens, New York at 465 Third Avenue. Tashlin’s father was a chauffeur. 

Tashlin has not yet been found in the 1930 census. 

According to Who’s Who in Animated Cartoons: An International Guide to Film & Television’s Award-winning and Legendary Animators (2006), Jeff Lenburg said Tashlin was “an errand boy and cel washer at New York’s fabled Fleischer Studios”. At age seventeen, he was an animation inker on Paul Terry’s Aesop’s Film Fables. Tashlin’s art training included correspondence courses of the Federal School of Applied Cartooning. The school’s quarterly publication, The Federal Illustrator, Summer 1932, said
Frank Tashlin has been connected with the Aesop Fables Studio in New York for two years. He reports nice, fat pay envelopes and extra checks for magazine illustrations which he is turning out under the name of “Tish Tash.”
Later Tashlin “moved” to the studio of producer Amedee J. Van Beuren who bought out Fables Pictures. In 1932, Tashlin began work on the Tom and Jerry series. 

The Federal Illustrator, Spring 1933, published Tashlin’s “Behind the Scenes in a Motion Picture Cartoon Studio”.

In 1933, Tashlin accepted Leon Schlesinger’s offer to work on Warner Bros.’ Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies cartoon series in California. 

A possible clue to Tashlin’s location was found on a passenger list at On August 5, 1933, his mother sailed on the steamship Virginia from New York. She arrived in the port of Los Angeles on August 19. The passenger list had her address as 2202 Holly Drive, Hollywood, California. 

American Newspaper Comics (2012) said Tashlin created Van Boring which ran from January 6, 1934 to June 20, 1936. It was distributed by the Los Angeles Times Syndicate. From 1936 to 1938, Canada's Dominion News Bureau handled the series, presumably in reprints.



The Los Angeles Times, October 18, 1936, reported Tashlin’s upcoming wedding. 
Miss Dorothy Hill, fiancee of Frank Tashlin, whose wedding will take place next Saturday in Westwood Community Church, was guest of honor at a tea and linen shower given last Sunday by Mrs. Manly Nelson at her home at 10121 Tabor street.

Mrs. Jennings Brown will assist her sister as matron of honor and other attendants will include Misses Dorothy McCarthy, Mary Mahoney, Dorothy Melaby and Mrs. Nelson. George Manuel will serve as best man and ushers include Frank Hee, J. W. Jenkins, Nelson Demorest and Manly Nelson.
The Film Daily, October 26, 1936, said 
Leon Schlesinger, producer of “Looney Tunes,” and “Merrie Melodies,” entertained at his Beverly Hills home in honor of Frank Tashlin (“Tish Tash”) and his bride, Dorothy Marguerite Hill. Miss Hill, who sings on the Shell Chateau program, met Tashlin when she applied for an audition.
According to 1936 and 1938 California voter registrations, Tashlin was a Democrat who lived at 1833 1/4 Grace Avenue in Los Angeles. His mother was at 1833 1/2. 

The 1940 census counted Tashlin, his wife and two-year-old daughter, Patricia, in Los Angeles at 2013 North Highland Avenue. He was a story director whose highest level of education was three years of high school. In 1939 Tashlin earned $3,400. Almost five months later, Tashlin signed his World War Draft card on October 16, 1940. His address was 11605 Dilling Street. Walt Disney was his employer. Tashlin was described as six feet four inches, 220 pounds, with gray eyes and brown hair.

In 1941 Tashlin was working on Fox and the Crow cartoons at Columbia Pictures. The following year he was back at Warner Bros. In the second half of the 1940s, Tashlin pursued work in feature films by creating gags, screenwriting and directing. Tashlin’s screen credits include The Paleface (1948), The First Time (1952), Son of Paleface (1952), Artists and Models (1955), The Girl Can’t Help It (1956), Hollywood or Bust (1956), Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? (1957); The Geisha Boy (1958), The Disorderly Orderly (1964), The Glass Bottom Boat (1966) and The Private Navy of Sgt. O’Farrell (1968).

The 1950 census had the same address. Tashlin was a television director. 

Tashlin’s The Bear That Wasn’t was published by E.P. Dutton in 1946. It was reprinted by Dover Publications in 1995. In 1950 Farrar, Straus published his The ’Possum That Didn’t. The World That Isn’t saw print in 1951 from Simon and Schuster. Pageant, June 1952, published 16 pages of The World That Isn’t. Tashlin self-published How to Create Cartoons (1952). 

The Knoxville Journal (Tennessee), October 26, 1952, reported Tashlin’s engagement to Mary Costa who was the voice of Disney’s Sleeping Beauty. Their wedding plans were noted in the Knoxville Journal, June 27, 1953. 

Advertising Age, February 9, 1953, said 
Frank Tashlin Co. Formed
Frank Tashlin Co., Hollywood, has been incorporated to produce television films. Frank Tashlin, director-writer, is president. Other officers are Lester Linsk, v.p., and Charles E. Trezona, secretary-treasurer.
The 1955 Beverly Hills city directory listed the company at 29 Benedict Canyon Drive. 

Tashlin passed away on May 5, 1972, in Los Angeles. He was laid to rest at Forest Lawn Memorial Park. An obituary was published in The New York Times, May 9, 1972. 

Further Reading
The New York Times, August 20, 2006, “Unmanly Men Meet Womanly Women: Frank Tashlin’s Satires Still Ring True”
Michael Barrier, Frank Tashlin Interview 
Amateur Cine World, January 11, 1962, “Is Frank Tashlin an Underrated Director?”
The World Encyclopedia of Cartoons, 1980 

Mary Costa
Coronet, June 1956
Who’s Who of American Women (1959) 


Once again, this is why this is my favorite blog. I learn so much every day.
Thank you for this, and especially for the Federal Illustrator article, which I'd been looking for. (My great-grandmother's younger half-brother founded the Federal Schools.) It seems to end in mid-sentence--is there another page?
While I'm sure that many people reading this original post know this already, I want to get it on the record for people who might read it long afterward. The "Tom and Jerry" cartoons that Tashlin started working on in 1932 are not the famous cat and mouse duo -- Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera introduced the cat-and-mouse Tom and Jerry in 1940, for MGM.

The Tom and Jerry at the Van Beuren studio were human characters, and their cartoons were only made from 1931 to 1933. By the time their cartoons were sold to television, the cat and mouse had become so famous that the human Tom and Jerry were renamed Dick and Larry for television airings.
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Sunday, April 21, 2024


Wish You Were Here, from Walter Wellman


Here's a 1909 card that was probably self-published by Walter Wellman. The gag somewhat depends on the postcard recipient being aware of an organization known as "The Black Hand", an old-timey name for what we now call the Mafia. The Black Hand was the subject of cartoon gags on a semi-frequent basis back in the early years of comics, so I was surprised to find I've only referred to it once before here on the blog, way back in 2009.

Thanks to Mark Johnson, who scanned this card from his collection.


"The Black Hand" was used for all kinds of secret organizations. I recommend Wolf Durian's Bill of the Black Hand, a young adult book from the 1920s, about a gang of street urchins who get into an advertising contest.
Mainly the Black Hand, or Il Mano Neri, was a terroristic group that specialised in kidnapping and extortion, leeching off their fellow Italian immigrants. Their origins were of course, back in Sicily, the Mafioso association prominently on display. The inky Black Hand print was a feature of their correspondence with victims; it represented the grasp of death, if said victim should contact the Polizia. Pretty much died out in the 1920s because of Mussolini's crack down of the Mafia.
La Mano Nera in Italiano.
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