Saturday, May 11, 2024


One-Shot Wonders: Finishing Touches by Art Young, 1893


Art Young shows workmen putting together a massive sculpture for the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago. A desire to do something special for this exposition was responsible for the Chicago Inter-Ocean pushing high-speed printing technology to the limit, so that they could print colour supplements for their newspapers once or more per week. Previous to this, colour printing was done on comparatively slow speed presses. If a newspaper wanted to print a colour supplement of some sort it would be worked on far in advance on slow presses. 

The opening of the Exposition was less than a month away when Art Young contributed this interesting illustration for the supplement's cover. Just for the heck of it I did a little poking around to find a photo of the finished sculpture. Oddly enough, I can find no reference to a sculpture with this subject, much less a photo of it. Anyone care to pick up the gauntlet and find us a pic of this sculpture?


I think this may represent pieces of Philip Martiny's decorations for the fair's Agricultural Building. The assembled sculpture had a man standing between the two horses and the guys holding the horses sported flying drapery. Here's a picture of the completed group:

Click on the magnify button to get a huge image.
Allen, are you sure the sculpture in the drawing was a real one?
If you look closely, it's a little too ridiculous to be an actual one: two naked men riding on the animal's legs? Seriously?
These horses clearly have riders, so I don't think Smurfswacker has the right one. Manqueman, the riders are in normal rider position, these horse statues are just misssing their legs at this point in the preparation process. Take another look, you'll see what I mean.

Somthing to keep in mind is that these two horse and rider figures might have been separated later in the making of the final statue(s).

Allan, I did a Google search (yes, I know) for Chicago Exposition and came up with nothing remotely like what Young illustrated.
Are you sure that what he drew was an actual one ant something made up for the illustration?
Yes, I probably missed something, probably a lot. The synapses are firing too well these days…
No guarantees of course, but the Inter Ocean's covers were all about showing people views of the exhibition. Of course Young might have taken liberties, but I can't imagine why. This would have been pretty hard to draw, given how the figures are incomplete and bear unwanted casting sections still on them. If he was going to work from imagination, why not make it easier and more appealing? Just my guess...
In here:

If you click on the Electricity building (#8). I think I can see these guys at the right edge of the photo. If you click on #6 (Manufacturers and Liberal Arts), the background matches, and this sculpture is probably on the left edge behind the elk, but you can't tell.
Definitely, Whygh, you've got it. Amazing how sculptures this large can disappear amongst all the rest.
With Whygh's guidance, I uncovered a good pic. The horses don't have legs because they are 'sea horses', a tail would be added. Here's a great pic, which can be made full screen with excellent resolution:
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Friday, May 10, 2024


Obscurity of the Day: Nixie


Although R.F. Outcault was the unquestioned king of series comics in the 1800s, by the turn of the century he didn't have any really popular series in his current kit bag. Gallus Coon thankfully didn't take hold at the New York World, and today's obscurity, Nixie, done for the Herald, showed some promise but ultimately fell by the wayside. 

Nixie is a moon-faced little kid who always wears an odd form-fitting cap (perhaps a baby bonnet?) topped with a pom-pom. A genteel version of the Yellow Kid, perhaps? The strip was sometimes pantomime, but when talking was the order of the day, it was done through captions below the panels. As was sometimes the case, animals get special dispensation to use word balloons. Nixie doesn't have a strong personality in the samples I've seen, so his odd face and garb are about the sum total of his appeal.

The Herald tried to get the public excited about Nixie, but evidently the reviews were not enthusiastisc enough. The strip started on March 18 1900 and last appeared on September 23* of the same year. Very soon Pore Little Mose would come on the scene, and he would function as Outcault's bread-and-butter strip for the next two years. 

Here are a few additional Nixie examples from OSU's Bill Blackbeard archives. 

* Source: Ken Barker's New York Herald index in StripScene #20.


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Wednesday, May 08, 2024


Toppers: Jungle Bedtime Stories


January 10 1926 was an important date for Sunday comics. This was the Sunday that the first wave of Hearst Sunday features added toppers. Some lagged behind, but it was on this date that Boob McNutt, Toots and Casper, Tillie the Toiler, Bringing Up Father, Happy Hooligan and Katzenjammer Kids led the charge to a new era of Sunday comics. (Well, actually there is one much earlier outlier, but we'll save that special case for some other day.)

The Katzies first topper was Jungle Bed-Time Stories, which, like all the original Hearst toppers that started in early 1926, was soon replaced. But this one was fine while it lasted, offering up gags starring jungle animals. Harold Knerr pulled this one out of a very old bag of tricks. Way back in 1911, for the very obscure Publishers Press/C.J. Mar syndicate, he'd contributed one of their best-looking features, Zoo-Illogical Snapshots, which covered the same territory. 

Jungle Bed-Time Stories ran until May 2 1926, which happens to be the sample above. And speaking of the sample above, if anyone can decode the gag on this one I'm officially in Comics I Don't Understand territory. The next week Knerr produced a one-shot topper called Naughty! Naughty!, and then settled into the very long run of Dinglehoofer Und His Dog Adolph.


An old phrase meaning (to use an old word) gumption.
Hello Allan-
In the first Episode of "Dinglehoofer and his dog" his name was "Dinglegoofer", thereafter, it changed to the regular spelling until it ended in 1952. So I guess that could be technically a "one-shot" too.
Usage here in a 1918 Western:
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Monday, May 06, 2024


Obscurity of the Day: Yenevieve Yonson's Cat


I really like Yenevieve Yonson's Cat. I know it's dopey and repetitive, I know the strip just rips off the popular song The Cat Came Back, I know it animates cruelty to animals, and I know the Yonson character is an unkind stereotype of Scandinavians. But despite all that the strip still finds its way to my funnybone just about every time I get to read one. Which isn't exactly an everyday occurrence because the strip ran in the Philadelphia Inquirer from February 10 1907 to October 31 1909.

Yenevieve Yonson's Cat is also intriguing from another perspective. In its very respectable two and a half year run, the feature was NEVER ONCE signed. Some syndicates didn't like their creators to sign a whole bunch of strips because it made them look like a penny ante outfit. And some creators didn't sign because they were on salary at another syndicate and did uncredited work to bring in some extra scratch. But for a titled feature to run that long with the creator so consistently not signing is a feat of some note. 

Is it a record? Mmm, maybe not. Some of the McClure Sunday strips from the latter half of the 1900s weren't signed for years, too. The difference there is that almost always in some part of their run they WERE signed, even if only once or twice. 

So the big question, then, is who wrote and drew Yenevieve Yonson's Cat? And I have a pretty strong belief that the culprit is Charlie Payne. First, it looks like his work, Secondly, he had two other features running in the Inquirer Sunday sections -- Scary William and Bear Creek Folks -- so the powers that be at the Inky might have told him to anonymize himself on this one. 

Luckily, I happen to know that there is an expert on all things comic and Philadelphia lurking out there, and I will be waiting to hear him weigh in on my art ID. Oh Mark...?


Hello Allan-
Sure, it's Payne! The shading crosshatching, the tiny squeezed letters in the ragged square word balloons, the water splats, and nobody else did the starry faceplants like his.
I note here that a more advanced detective of interpreting styles than I, Cole, had unhesitatingly named Payne as the artist for Yenevive in all his Inquirer notes.
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Sunday, May 05, 2024


Wish You Were Here, from Nate Collier


Here is a Nate Collier card from Taylor Pratt's Series 892 (aka Red Border Series), published in 1912. It seems to me this card is a brilliant bit of marketing magic -- those who shun religion will buy it, knowing their recipient will understand they are being sarcastic. Those of a religious bent will also buy it for the opposite reason. Nice one Nate!


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