Tuesday, February 21, 2017


Obscurity of the Day: If Papa Was a Boy

DeVoss Driscoll, who was a mainstay of the locally-produced Sunday comic section of the St. Louis Globe-Democrat in 1903-05, was a decent artist, but not much of a gag writer. Therefore it might not have been his most brilliant idea for a series that he would draw it as if a child was doing the art. In If Papa Was a Boy readers got the worst of both worlds -- bad art and bad writing.

On the other hand, since Driscoll was producing a heck of a lot of material for the comic section, maybe the idea was borne of necessity -- he simply did not have time to draw all of his material. Solution -- draw badly, but with an ironclad excuse. Driscoll went so far as to sign the strip "A.D." -- presumably he had a son whose name began with letter 'A' (a presumption that I will leave Alex Jay to explore if he desires).

If Papa Was a Boy ran in the Globe-Democrat from March 26 to June 4 1905, near the end of Driscoll's ordeal -- the newspaper would soon switch over to syndicated content.

Since Mr. Driscoll really was a decent artist, we'll feature him tomorrow drawing in his native style. Fair's fair!


Comments: Post a Comment

Monday, February 20, 2017


Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Lewis Gregg

Green Book Magazine 10/1916

Lewis Crumley Gregg was born in Atlanta, Georgia, on October 9, 1880. Gregg’s full name and birth date were recorded on his World War I draft card. His birthplace was named on a 1930 passenger list. Gregg’s parents were William Alanson Gregg (1848–1895) and Elizabeth Luckie Gregg (1859–1952). The 1880 U.S. Federal Census was enumerated four months before Gregg’s birth. Gregg’s parents and paternal grandmother resided in Atlanta on Pulliam Street. His father was a hardware merchant.

Specific information about Gregg’s education has not been found. The Atlanta Constitution, July 30, 1916, said Gregg studied at the Art Students’ League in New York.

Gregg’s widowed mother was the head of the household in the 1900 census. Art student Gregg was the oldest of six siblings. Everyone resided in Atlanta at 176 Rawson.

Around 1901, Gregg joined the Constitution newspaper staff. Gregg’s work was collected in Cartoons by Gregg (1904).

City directories from 1903, 1905, 1907 and 1909 listed Gregg as a Constitution artist who resided at 176 Capitol Avenue which was the address in the 1910 census. Gregg, his mother and five siblings lived there. The 1915 city directory had the same address for Gregg.

American Newspaper Comics (2012) said Gregg produced Gilly the Gopher (a gopher tortoise), for the Constitution, which ran it from April 9, 1912 to January 22, 1913, plus a one-week return June 28-July 2 to advertise a reprint book published by the Cole Book Company.


Listings in the American Art Annual, Volume 14 (1917) included Gregg’s art school. 

Lewis C. Gregg School of Drawing, Constitution Building.
Lewis C. Gregg, director. Established 1915. Antique and sketch from costume models, cartoon and newspaper illustration. Day and evening classes. Tuition, $10 a month for four days a week; $5 a month for two days a week. Enrollment, 45.
Gregg’s marriage was reported in the Editor & Publisher, October 21, 1916. (Cartoons Magazine, December 1916, reprinted the Editor & Publisher article.) 
Cartoonist Gregg Married
Lewis Crumley Gregg, cartoonist for the Atlanta (Ga.) Constitution, was married to Miss Mamie Ansley in Atlanta on the evening of October 11. Mr. Gregg, for fifteen years connected with the art department of the Constitution, is a graduate from the Art Students' League of New York. He is better known to the newspaper world and to the public as the originator 'of the famous “Gopher,” the little animal which appears in all of his cartoons. Miss Ansley, now Mrs. Gregg, is one of the leaders in Atlanta’s social set. She is the daughter of Edward P. Ansley, a prominent real-estate man of that city. Immediately after the ceremony Mr. and Mrs. Gregg left for New York, where they spent their honeymoon.
Moving Picture World, December 1, 1917, said Universal Current Events, filmed 39 cartoonists, including Gregg.

On September 12, 1918, Gregg signed his World War I draft card. The cartoonist lived in Atlanta at 220 Ponce De Leon Avenue. The description said Gregg was five feet, eleven-and-three-quarter inches and 210 pounds with gray eyes and light brown hair.

Gregg’s home in Atlanta was at 3 Durant Place in the 1920 census. A 1925 city directory had Gregg’s address as 30 Polo Drive.

The Macon Telegraph (Georgia), July 11, 1929, noted Gregg’s plan to study abroad: “Lewis C. Gregg, for 26 years a cartoonist with the Atlanta Constitution, sails tomorrow from Jacksonville for a year of study in Paris and London. He will be accompanied by Mrs. Gregg.” Passenger lists at Ancestry.com said Gregg departed July 23, 1929 and returned August 21, 1930.

City directories for 1938 and 1956 and the 1940 census said Gregg was a portrait painter who continued to live in Atlanta at 30 Polo Drive.

Gregg passed away March 19, 1957, in Atlanta. He laid to rest at Oakland Cemetery

—Alex Jay


Comments: Post a Comment

Saturday, February 18, 2017


Herriman Saturday

January 4 1909 -- This week Angelenos will go to the polls, and one issue is whether to approve a new bond issue to build additional schools. Believe it or not, Los Angeles in 1909 was in need of money to build their THIRD high school.

When I first saw this cartoon, I thought, "Geez mother, if you want the bond issue, stop whining at your hubby and vote for it yourself." Oops -- no can do in 1909!


Comments: Post a Comment

Friday, February 17, 2017


Wish You Were Here, from a Mystery Cartoonist

This divided back card offers no copyright info on the reverse, and the artist has chosen not to sign it. The style and the metamorphosis subject all point me to Winsor McCay, but I'm not aware that he did any postcard work. Even the Little Nemo series of postcards does not sport the Master's own artwork. Anyone care to hazard a guess as to our mystery cartoonist?


Comments: Post a Comment

Thursday, February 16, 2017


Pure Self-Promotion: Your Host as a Superhero

I guess you know you've really made a name for yourself in cartooning when you are honored to be caricatured as a superhero. A local magazine for my winter home in Lake County Florida, Lake and Sumter Style, did a short profile about li'l ole moi:

Thanks for sticking with the blog for all of these years! It's nice that you credit Jim Ivey for opening up this world of fun to you. Good job!
Post a Comment

Wednesday, February 15, 2017


Mystery Strips: Lumer + Questions For the Brain Trust

I came upon a short stack of miscellaneous Sunbury (PA) Daily Item 1972 comics pages in my "to be filed" tower (the word 'pile' having been given up as a gross underestimation at this point). I came upon a single page, dated July 1 1972, that included the above strip, Lumer by Jerry Beaver. Other pages from late June did not include the strip. I had no comics pages from later than this date. Since I have no other record of the strip or the cartoonist, I pose the question to you -- does anyone have any info on the strip or Jerry Beaver? Since I have only the one example, I can't even list it as a series.

Other Questions
* Does anyone know of an online  resource that identifies if and where a digital  archive for a particular newspaper title is available? I spend a lot of time looking for newspaper titles (like for instance the Sunbury Item), checking newspapers.com, Google, Library of Congress, state archive websites, etc., and it sure would be great if that information was available in some central repository -- the Wikipedia page for the newspaper would get my vote as ideally convenient.

* a correspondent has asked me to tell him, in great detail, how newspaper comics get from the cartoonist's drawing board all the way to the printed page. He wants to know about the whole technical process, in layman's terms. Given that I don't have the free hours to do a complete brain dump, and that I'm likely to get some details wrong anyway, any suggestions for online sources where he can read up on this process? He is, of course, interested in how things worked in the bad old days, not in our new digital world.

* I have just recently discovered that overhead book scanners are now available to the general public at reasonable prices (if -- gulp -- $800 can be judged reasonable). I've been looking at the Fujitsu ScanSnap SV600 specifically, but there are others. I would very much like to hear from anyone who has one of these, or knows how well they work, or can offer any suggestions on the particular brands and models that work best. The online reviews for the Fujitsu are decidedly mixed, and the reviews for the lesser brands are downright awful, so I'm wondering if I need to wait until the 'bleeding edge' days have passed. I have fantasies of digitizing my collections of various journals and getting rid of many running feet of bookcase space. Ooh, to have searchable digital versions of my long runs of Editor & Publisher! Nirvana!

Labels: ,

Here's a Jerry Beaver in Sunbury who worked for the paper :http://www.dailyitem.com/community/anniversary/mr-and-mrs-jerry-beaver/article_5fc27fb5-8ca8-5e7c-970b-d93ecc1af18b.html

Here's the copyright entry for the May 5, 1971 strip: https://books.google.com/books?id=IDQhAQAAIAAJ&pg=PA119&lpg=PA119&dq=jerry+beaver+sunbury+pa&source=bl&ots=pwzy9hQ2B0&sig=-gAHaiAyHuwBiCFuTlggbaZb9-A&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwi7k8Gd3pPSAhWs3YMKHd8hDDkQ6AEINjAF#v=onepage&q=jerry%20beaver%20sunbury%20pa&f=false

There are a few resources I can recommend for finding free newspaper databases.

1) "Wikipedia: List of online newspaper archives". Note that if an American newspaper is listed as "Free" it could be a "Newspaper Archive" subscribed site freely available to a local public library and not nationally. If this link doesn't work type the title into Google. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:List_of_online_newspaper_archives

2)Library of Congress U.S. Newspaper Dirctory 1690-present. Very useful for searching papers in the LOC collection, although they haven't digitized anything after 1924. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/search/titles/

3)Newspapers Guide from The University Library and the Univ. of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. This resource does included links to more widely available newspapers and not just the one available from the library. http://guides.library.illinois.edu/newspapers

Also search for "digital newspapers" every so often in news.google.com for news stories & press releases on newly digitized newspaper collections.
Hi Glynis --
Thanks for the links. Looks like Beaver did intend the strip to be ongoing, since he filed for copyright, but it seems he didn't manage to produce strips enough for daily frequency, since I have June issues that don't run the strip. I guess until I get to the Sunbury microfilm someday, or someone digitizes it, I'll have to table it.

Hi James --
Thanks for the wiki link. Although it is far from authoritative, it is another excellent weapon for my arsenal. Thanks!

Post a Comment

Tuesday, February 14, 2017


Ink-Slinger profiles by Alex Jay: Gaar Williams

Gaar Campbell Williams was born in Richmond, Indiana, on December 12, 1880, according to the Illinois Death Index at Ancestry.com. Marriage records revealed his parents’ full names, George Rich Williams and Sarah Elizabeth Campbell. In the 1880 U.S. Federal Census, which was enumerated June 15, the couple resided in Richmond, Indiana at 34 Eighth Street. Williams’s father was a court clerk. Richmond city directories of 1885 and 1890 listed the Williams address as 410 North Fifteenth Street.

The same address was recorded in the 1900 census. Williams had a younger sister, Inez, and his father was a bookkeeper. The Richmond High School yearbook, The Pierian 1909, said Williams, class of 1900, was a “Student in Art School, Chicago; cartoonist for the Chicago ‘Record Herald;’ now with the Indianapolis News.”

The Chicago Tribune, June 16, 1935, said Williams, while in high school, studied at the Cincinnati Academy of Fine Arts during vacation breaks. After graduating high school, Williams continued his studies at the Chicago Art Institute. Williams initially pursued commercial art but switched to the newspaper field where he drew political cartoons for the Chicago Daily News. According to the a brief profile in the collection of the Indiana State Library’s Rare Books and Manuscripts, Williams was a staff artist on the Chicago Daily News from 1904 to 1909. A 1905 Chicago city directory had this listing: “Williams Gaar C artist 1702, 77 Jackson bowl H2667”. The listing in the American Art Annual (1905) had this address: “Williams, Gaar C, 1712 Great Northern Bldg.. Chicago, Ill. (P.)”.

Williams produced a number of bookplates which were printed in Brush and Pencil, August 1905, and Indiana Bookplates (1910).

American Newspaper Comics (2012) said Williams produced a series for the Chicago Daily News. Buttons and the Butler ran from December 18, 1906 to January 11, 1907. Williams was one of several artists to draw the Chicago Daily News’ Tiny Tinkles. Williams’ run went from January 11 to January 29, 1907.

In 1909 Williams joined the Indianapolis News and stayed for twelve years. The 1910 census said newspaper cartoonist Williams was an Indianapolis resident at 947 Pennsylvania Street North. On April 22, 1911, Williams married Magdalena Englebert. The couple lived at 140 East 44th Street according to Williams’ World War I draft card which was signed on September 12, 1918. The description of Williams was tall and slender with blue eyes and brown hair.

Williams illustrated a number of books including Keeping Up with William (1918), Days Gone Dry (1919), The War in Cartoons (1919), and The Young Immigrunts (1920).

Williams’ address was unchanged in the 1920 census. In 1921 Williams joined the Chicago Tribune. According to American Newspaper Comics, Williams produced a Chicago Tribune cartoon panel from 1922 to mid-1935. The panel was known by a number titles: A Strain on the Family Tie; Among the Folks in History; How to Keep from Growing Old; Just Plain Folks; Our Secret Ambition; Something Ought to Be Done About This; Static; When Words Fail Yuh; Wotta Life! Wotta Life!; and Zipper. The strip Mort Green and Wife, and its topper, Zipper, debuted October 4, 1931 from the Chicago Tribune.

Williams and his wife vacationed in Europe. They departed Cherbourg, France, on May 27, 1928 and arrived in New York City June 4. Their address on the passenger list was 90 Lakewood Road, Glencoe, Illinois. The same address was recorded in the 1930 census.

Williams passed away June 15, 1935, in Chicago. His death was reported the following day in the Chicago Tribune. Williams was laid to rest in Earlham Cemetery.

Further Reading

Gaar Williams, 1880-1935: A Checklist of the Blanche Stillson Collection in the Irwin Library of Butler University (1981)

Biographical Sketches of Cartoonists & Illustrators in the Swann Collection of the Library of Congress (2012) 

—Alex Jay


Comments: Post a Comment

Monday, February 13, 2017


Toppers: Zipper

Although Gaar Williams is for the most part forgotten today, in the 1920s and 30s he was very well-known for his cartoons in the mode of Clare Briggs and H.T. Webster. One of his continued series from that weekday panel was A Strain on the Family Tie, and eventually the Chicago Tribune, his syndicate, asked him to add a Sunday page of the feature.

Originally titled Mort Green and Wife when it debuted October 4 1931 (it was later retitled to agree with the daily panel), it had a topper titled Zipper, about a dog. This topper strip was another of Williams' continuing weekday series. It was a pretty low-key effort, but consistently worth perusing. It was wordless, or nearly so, which was a pleasant change from the main strip, which tended toward excessive verbiage.

Zipper was discontinued on October 8 1933, two weeks after the strip's name was changed to A Strain On The Family Tie. I have no idea what the two events might have had to do with each other. From then on the Sunday did not include a topper strip.


Comments: Post a Comment

Saturday, February 11, 2017


Herriman Saturday

January 4 1909 -- Hoo-boy, Jim Jeffries is starting to listen to the crazy idea that he should fighht Jack Johnson. Jim, you're old and flabby and you're going to look mighty silly if you do!


Comments: Post a Comment

Friday, February 10, 2017


Wish You Were Here, from R.F. Outcault

Here's a Tuck Series 106 Valentine rebus postcard (undivided back) featuring art supposedly by our good Mr. Outcault. Well, Mary Jane might be Outcault, but that boy and dog I'm guessing are tracings.

What I do really like is the delightfully enigmatic message from M.M.F. Much harder to divine the real meaning of that than the rebus.


I found the sheet music for "Out Where the Billows Roll High", words by J. T. Branen ; music by H. W. Petrie, but it must be some private "family joke". It's one of those songs about sailors and their lovers parting, perhaps to meet again only in the next world.
Post a Comment

Thursday, February 09, 2017


Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Ed Kudlaty

Edward A. “Ed” Kudlaty was born in Cleveland, Ohio, on November 21, 1916. His birthplace is based on the census and birth date is from the Social Security Death Index.

In the 1920 U.S. Federal Census, Kudlaty was the last of eight children born to Michael and Anna, both emigrants from Galicia, Austria. His father was a laborer at a furnace. The family resided in Cleveland at 1603 Branch Avenue.

The 1930 census recorded the Kudlatys in Cleveland at 4219 Woburn Avenue. An indication of Kudlaty’s talent was mentioned in the Cleveland Plain Dealer (Ohio), June 2, 1936.

Announcement was made yesterday by Henry Hunt Clark, director, of the result of the annual competitive examination in the senior classes of public and parochial high schools of Cleveland and nearby cities for scholarships in the Cleveland School of Art.

Honorable mentions were given to: …Edward Kudlaty, 4219 Woburn Avenue S.W….

Ninety students entered the contest. Their work was judged by Clark, Otto F. Ege, head of the teacher training department; Alfred Mewett, registrar, and Alfred Howell, supervisor of art; Cleveland Board of Education.
The same address was in the 1940 census which said Kudlaty completed four years of high school. His occupation was laborer at a brass factory. Kudlaty enlisted in the army April 1, 1941. Details of his service are not known. Kudlaty was discharged September 18, 1945.

After the war, Kudlaty furthered his art training. The Cleveland Plain Dealer, June 3, 1947, reported the graduation of the School of Art.

Students in the largest graduating class in history of the Cleveland School of Art will receive diplomas this afternoon in the auditorium of the Museum of Art, beginning at 3:30.

…Nothing has been left out of the essential training of art students, as is apparent by the long list of graduates with the subjects in which each of them majored, and there remains a familiar ring in such titles as design, illustration and design, teacher training, advertising art, industrial design, handicrafts, sculpture, mural painting, and painting.

Graduating in these subjects are: …Edward A. Kudlaty…
The Cuyahoga County, Ohio, Marriage Records and Indexes, at Ancestry.com, said Kudlaty married between 1946 and 1948. Cleveland city directories in 1950s listed artist Kudlaty and his wife, Veronica, at 10614 Snow Road. The same address was in telephone directories in the 1990s into 2002.

The date of Kudlaty’s employment with the Newspaper Enterprises Association (NEA) is not known. American Newspaper Comics (2012) said Kudlaty drew the Story of Old Glory from June 9 to 14, 1952. It was written by Jay Heavlin. His next NEA series was Generals Who Became President which was written by Ray Ellis. Their strip ran from January 12 to 19, 1953. Kudlaty and writer Russ Winterbotham produced the Kit Carson strip from October 12 to November 8, 1955.

Kudlaty covered the 1954 trial of Dr. Samuel Sheppard. Photographs of his NEA courtroom drawings are at the Library of Congress.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer, February 23, 1957, reported the winners of the Freedoms Foundation’s George Washington Honor Medal. Kudlaty was recognized for his cartoon, “Recommended Reading.”

Kudlaty’s portrait of Pope John XXIII was published in many newspapers including The Kokomo Tribune (Indiana), November 4, 1958. The portrait was also available for purchase.

The Gadsden Times (Alabama), April 19, 1962, published Kudlaty’s Easter drawing.

During the 1964 presidential election, Kudlaty drew Conventions and Crisis which featured first, the Republicans, followed by the Democrats.

In 1973, Don Oakley and Kudlaty produced the 12-part A Splendid Little War. The next year, Kudlaty drew the six-part Gerald Ford: The Man from Michigan. For the 1976 presidential election, Kudlaty drew Conventions in Crisis which reused some of his art from the 1964 series, Conventions and Crisis.

Kudlaty’s wife, Veronica, passed away July 15, 1996. Eleven years later, Kudlaty passed away December 13, 2007, in Cleveland. Accordng to the death certificate, Kudlaty was an NEA artist who had a bachelor’s degree.

—Alex Jay


Comments: Post a Comment

Wednesday, February 08, 2017


Obscurity of the Day: Kit Carson

NEA's practice of offering short-run comic strips about factual subjects usually tied the subject to current events or an anniversary. Kit Carson, offered by the syndicate in a 24-part series, seems to have been issued as a corrective to the popular 1950s Adventures of Kit Carson television series, which portrayed the historical figure with not even a nodding acquaintance to the fellow's actual life story.

The story, penned by Russ Winterbotham, made an attempt to be more factual, but this was still the 1950s, and Carson, who would later be reconsidered by historians as a ruthless killer of Native Americans, was given an unabashed hero treatment. Ed Kudlaty, an NEA bullpenner, provided slick art for the series.

As was often the case with NEA's closed-end series, running dates are all over the map. The earliest I've encountered the strip starting is October 3 1955, but the intended start date was October 12, which places it starting the next day after the conclusion of another NEA closed-end series, Daniel Boone. Kit Carson is quite unusual for an NEA closed-end strip, since it actually carried running dates. The strip reached its conclusion on November 8 of that year.


Was that a frequent occurence with NEA in the 50s
where one closed-end series began right after another ended?

Hi DD --
When I indexed the NEA Archives at OSU many moons ago, I could see no rhyme or reason to when these closed-end series were released. I didn't realize until later that many of the NEA closed-end series had not been archived, so naturally I would not have seen a regular schedule of any kind, even if there was one.

Therefore, it may be that they were issued on a standardized schedule, but I'd have to have more perfect knowledge of what NEA issued and when.

The question is made more complex by the fact that I did not, and do not, consider all the series to be qualified as comic strips. For instance, you'll see in Alex Jay's profile of Kudlaty that he shows examples of "Conventions in Crisis". This series is so over the top text heavy that I could not in good conscience index it as a comic strip. There are quite a few other examples of series that I felt did not qualify. Thus I do not have an exhaustive list of these closed-end series even now from which to glean a schedule.

Post a Comment

Tuesday, February 07, 2017


Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Irving S. Knickerbocker

Irving S. Knickerbocker was born in Auburn, Washington, in January 1898. The birthplace was mentioned the Cleveland Plain Dealer, January 27, 1930. The birth date was recorded in the 1900 U.S. Federal Census which said Knickerbocker was the youngest of two children born to Irving, a lawyer, and Olivia. The family resided in Auburn on Silver Street. The Knickerbocker branch of a family tree can be seen here.

The 1910 census said Knickerbocker had two more siblings, and his maternal grandmother was part of the household. Auburn was still their home. The Plain Dealer wrote about Knickerbocker’s activities in this decade.

He started out to find adventure when a youth and worked on a farm in New York state, was a saw flier in a lumber camp, worked on a railroad and did many things. He served with the medical corps in France in the World War.
The Rockford Morning Star (Illinois), January 29, 1930, said, “After the war he spent some time as a sailor on an ocean liner and then came ashore and studied art.” Additional information was found in the Seattle Daily Times (Washington), January 30, 1930: “He graduated from Auburn High School in 1916 and served overseas during the two years following. Returning he became active in Seattle shipping and commercial life, until going to Ohio.”

The War Department O.Q.M.G. Form 623, Application for Headstone, recorded Knickerbocker’s military service. He was a sergeant in Signal Corps, #116, Field Signal Battalion, 41st Division in Washington.

According to the 1920 census, Knickerbocker, unemployed, and two younger siblings lived with their parents in Auburn at 700 West Second.

In the mid-1920s, Knickerbocker moved to Cleveland, Ohio. Cleveland city directories listed him at 2019 Brown Road, in 1926, and 1351 West 76th, in 1929. Knickerbocker worked for the Newspaper Enterprise Association (NEA). He signed his work “Knick”.

American Newspaper Comics (2012) said Knickerbocker created and worked on several projects for the NEA. Knickerbocker was the second of six artists on the weekly strip, Bugs, which started on March 12, 1924. Following Roy Grove, Knickerbocker’s run was from November 11 1925 to April 7, 1926. He was followed by Charles D. Small, George “Swan” Swanson, Arthur Sefcik and Don Wootton. Little Joe Says was started by Storm, who was followed by Larry Redner. Next was Knickerbocker who worked on it in 1926 to March 7, 1930.

Knickerbocker’s The Papers Say started April 21, 1926 and ended January 13, 1927. The Tinymites was written by Hal Cochran and debuted October 8, 1926 with artist Larry Redner. Knickerbocker took over from January 10, 1927 to February 18, 1930. He was followed by Joe King and George Scarbo. The art on Ad Fables (1928) resembles Knickerbocker’s style.

Knickerbocker drew J. Disraeli (Dizzy) Dugan (aka Dizzy Dugan), which was the Sunday topper to Salesman Sam, from October 9, 1927 to March 23, 1930. Mac (aka The McCoys) was created by Knickerbocker who produced it from May 10, 1929 to March 7, 1930. It was continued by Munch, Howard Boughner and Bob Moyer.

Knickerbocker passed away January 26, 1930, in Cleveland, as reported the following day in the Plain Dealer. In an automobile accident, his “...skull and jaw were fractured and his lung punctured.“ “…He died in St. John’s Hospital several hours after the accident.”

The Morning Star added the following about Knickerbocker’s death.

Two coincidences, striking in the light of the tragedy that befell him, marked his last day of life.

Just before leaving his office for the last time, “Knick” dropped five “Tinymite” drawings on the desk of Hal Cochran, NEA art director, and remarked, “Well, that’s ‘30’ for me.” “Thirty” is the newspaper expression for “the end.”

The last sports cartoon Knickerbocker drew appeared on the day of his death. Over it Knick had written the heading, “It Was Fun While It Lasted.”
Knickerbocker was laid to rest at Mountain View Cemetery in Auburn, Washington.

—Alex Jay


Comments: Post a Comment

Monday, February 06, 2017


Obscurity of the Day: Little Joe Says

by "Storm"

By Redner

By Knickerbocker

There seemed to be an almost insatiable appetite in the 1920s newspaper offices for little one-column panel cartoons, and the syndicates were only too happy to oblige. Most of the little one-column jobs were of the 'pithy sayings' variety, whether voiced by flappers, Asians, mammies, or most any other stereotype you can think of.

Perhaps a character that wouldn't immediately come to mind is Little Joe, a weird cross of portly middle-aged man and baby that is as creepy as they come. While the sayings were sufficiently pithy, the drawings of the man-baby could be downright disturbing. It's his little tiny feet that were often depicted that really set the hair on the back of my neck a-tingling.

Little Joe Says was an NEA daily offering that debuted on February 21 1924. The first five days of panels were untitled (by mistake?) so Little Joe didn't actually get his moniker until February 27. Although the panel was seldom signed, it did happen enough that we can track credits. The first artist to work on the feature was 'Storm', whose signature appeared rarely from February to November 1924. Thing about this 'Storm' fellow is that his art looks just exactly like that of the next artist, Larry Redner. My guess is that 'Storm' is just a pseudonym.

Redner stayed on the daily feature until June 19 1926, when he stepped aside to give Charles D. Small a whack at it. Small didn't last too long, because he was taking over Salesman Sam at this time, and his last work appeared on February 5 1927. Irving Knickerbocker became the final artist on Little Joe Says, and his tenure was the longest. The weird man-baby was put to bed permanently on March 7 1930.


Would papers run these every day, or use them as column pluggers?

I worked at a newspaper in the days just after cold type replaced linotype, but before pagination. The guys in Composing pasted up pages using layouts sent from the Copy Desk. PR produced scores of strange little filler ads so Composing always had something at hand when an article or an ad didn't fill the allotted space, and it was too late for the Copy Desk to provide a short item to fit. I never saw cartoons used as filler -- they only ran as scheduled features.
Hi Donald --
Some papers ran these little guys as standard daily features, but others definitely ran them ROP. Yet others seemed to have a standard daily spot assigned for them, on the editorial page say, but if something else ran long, they got the boot.
Post a Comment

Saturday, February 04, 2017


Herriman Saturday

January 3, 1909 -- In his first cartoon of 1909, Herriman endeavors to render assistance to Examiner readers. The story of Carmen, which is playing at the Mason Opera House, is simplified to a series of explanatory cartoons.


In case anyone else is wondering, the conductor is labeled Jacchia because he is Italian orchestral director Agide Jacchia. I was also curious as to whether or not the big hair on the cartoon conductor was modeled after the real Jacchia, but it doesn't really look like it. Hard to say, though: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/ee/Agide_Jacchia_01.pdf. It does look quite a bit like the hair of Jacchia's teacher, Pietro Mascagni: http://biografieonline.it/img/bio/Pietro_Mascagni_1.jpg

Could easily be a coincidence, though.
Post a Comment

Friday, February 03, 2017


Wish You Were Here, from Norman Jennett (probably)

This divided back postcard has no copyright info on the reverse, and just a couple of unhelpful notations on the front. The artist failed to sign this card, but I'm pretty confident that it is Norman Jennett.

Comments: Post a Comment

Thursday, February 02, 2017


Obscurity of the Day: Little Mrs. Thoughtful

Munson Paddock, whose life story turned out to be a lot more prosaic than his misinformation-based legend, penned the one-note series Little Mrs. Thoughtful for the New York Evening Telegram. It ran on a weekly schedule in the Saturday edition of the Telegram from February 8 to June 6 1908, then took a hiatus, and returned on Wednesdays from September 16 to October 7.

Thanks to Cole Johnson for the sample.


Comments: Post a Comment

Wednesday, February 01, 2017


Obscurity of the Day: The Baxter Beasleys

The Baxter Beasleys, by the always competent and often terrific Gene Carr, has a checkered history. It seems to have been produced for the McClure Syndicate while Carr was on some sort of hiatus from his Pulitzer daily feature, Everyday Movies (aka Metropolitan Movies). The daily begins on June 23 1924, and the latest I can find it running is January 31 1925. The daily is very much in the mold of a popular new genre at this time, which doesn't really have a name. In this genre there is a husband always trying out some brainless scheme, and his family, generally smarter than him, tries to save him from himself, or contents themselves with mocking him. Examples are The Bungle Family, The Nebbs, The Gumps, The Man in the Brown Derby, Cicero Sapp, etc. Anyone got a suggestion for what we could call this genre? Anyway, The Baxter Beasleys daily is firmly in this mold, and because it's Gene Carr the strip does a predictably good job of going through the familiar paces.

The Sunday, however, as you can see above, is a pretty nondescript piece of fluff. What is interesting about it is that it is beyond rare in its original run. Because of that I cannot offer you any specific dates. In fact the only Sunday I have even seen from the original run is the one you see above, which was courtesy of Cole Johnson. You'll note that it ran in the notorious New York Evening Graphic, which I did not know ever even HAD a Sunday edition. Yeah, we're talking RARE.

I have, however, seen plenty of the Sundays, though. Just not in the original run. McClure sold the Sundays off to World Color Printing, and WCP ran them as part of their Sunday sections from October 1927 until late 1928. That would seem to indicate that Carr produced about a year's worth of them, and thus the Sunday had a longer run than the daily. I just can't offer the actual running dates; perhaps if I triangulated from this one Graphic example, and assumed that the WCP run is in order, I could ... nah ...


How about "Dad's an Idiot." A lot of television commercials use this theme
50s TV show fathers were often like this. I thought of them as "Daddy Dunce" shows.
"Father Knows Least"
Yes I was going to say standard 50s/60s situation comedy.
Well, I was thinking of something more scholarly sounding for our term, but I must say Daddy Dunce has a delicious alliteration to it.

Post a Comment

Tuesday, January 31, 2017


Obscurity of the Day: The Lad That Loved a Lady

In The Lad That Loved a Lady, the great F. M. Howarth did something that was seldom seen in comic strips of his era -- he penned a series of comic strips that ends in an actual conclusion.

The story, set in medieval times, was simple enough: the beautiful and bumptious Isabel, daughter of the Earl of Sourface, falls in love with Alonzo the page, an underling who serves in her father's castle. She eggs on Alonzo to win her fair and square and thus save her from the advances of several very unappealing but high-born suitors. In a series of escapades, Alonzo proves himself to be a master trickster by successfully outwitting the other suitors. And then, in the final strip (seen above), Alonzo even gets the better of the Earl of Sourface himself, and thus wins the hand of Isabel and the grudging approval of her pa.

A couple other comments on the strip. First, notice that the top strip actually has the art panels out of order with the captions below. This is a problem I don't recall ever having seen before in a Hearst Sunday, and I find it mystifying how the problem made it all the way into production and into the Sunday paper. Second, Howarth must have been quite a student of Renaissance romantic literature, because he does an absolutely superb job of writing the captions in that ultra-flowery romantic style. Forsooth, I am by my spurs ever so impressed!

The Lad That Loved a Lady ran in the Hearst Sunday sections from December 23 1906 to April 21 1907.


The art on the top strip is fine, but, it's the captions (3 and 4 of the top strip) is out of order!!!
Post a Comment

Monday, January 30, 2017


Obscurity of the Day: Campus Clatter

In 1969 college campuses were ground zero for anti-war protests, anti-government groups, drug experimentation, and unrest of just about any kind you'd care to name, So it seems rather odd that the NEA syndicate picked this particular moment to offer Campus Clatter, a daily and Sunday strip which uses that environment for the purposes of light comedy.

Campus Clatter was brought on NEA's roster to replace The Willets, a spin-off of Out Our Way that hadn't really taken hold. The strip debuted as a daily on July 7 1969, and a Sunday was added March 15 1970. The creator of the new strip, Larry Lewis, was a cartoonist in his 40s with a mostly commercial background. He sold NEA on the strip strictly through a mail-in submission, much to his amazement.

Lewis stated that he was able to keep up on the current campus scene because his wife was a college teacher, and his daughter a student. While the strip did make an occasional effort to reflect current events, however, few of the gags would have seemed out of place in a 1930s issue of College Humor.

The strip was further hobbled by having no strong characters; the lead, Bimo Burns, is an everyman with no discernable personality. The strip was pretty strictly gag-a-day, and Lewis liked a regimented group of subjects -- "in a typical week I try to have at least 2 classroom gags, one gag related to sports, one to the administrative end of things, another to social life, and perhaps one to faculty." In fairness, this sort of approach worked very well for Mort Walker, so perhaps Lewis had the right idea.

With Doonesbury taking the comic strip world by storm in late 1970, you have to wonder if Lewis consdered making his strip a little edgier to compete. If he did, he evidently decided against the notion. Campus Clatter stayed true to its roots all through the run, which had Bimo Burns evidently failing a lot of courses so that he could stay enrolled at good old Doolittle College until October 2 1976.


Wish you can tell us about the Willets that was replaced, if you have a chance!!!
I recall that "Doonesbury" triggered a small flood of actual college student strips trying to jump to national syndication. Are any others of "Doonesbury" vintage still going?
Geez Donald, maybe I'm just getting old and foggy, but I can't think of a single college strip that followed Doonesbury's lead back in the early 70s off the top of my head. Undoubtedly there were some, but unless something obvious is eluding me, none made much of a lasting impression. I think most of the Donesbury wannabees date more from the early 80s, when the strip went on hiatus, creating a feeding frenzy of strips looking to take Trudeau's clients.

The Willets who wold star in the daily Willets strip first appeared (as far as I can discern) in the Sunday Out Our Way May 29, 1966. They were not the Willis-Liz Willets who had been the stars of the Sunday Out Our Way strip forever as Allan implies in his book. Rather they were neighbors.

The fathers shared an uncle according to the first appearance making them some kind of cousins. They were probably not first cousins as they didn't seem to know their relationship so uncle probably meant brother of a cousin or something making the father's at best second cousins.

The family had a teen-age son and daughter and a dog.
I'm probably conflating a few things in my own boomer fog, but remember stumbling across a steady trickle of paperbacks of what looked like badly drawn college strips, some syndicated and some strictly student (meant for the college bookstore?). A few of the better ones I later recognized as "alternative weekly" strips, like Unconscious Comics.

"Bloom County" was the one that took the Doonesbury spot in the San Jose Mercury -- because of its semi-editorial cartoon status it had a designated piece of real estate between some regular columns instead of the comic page. I developed a perhaps unfair prejudice against Bloom County because it then felt too much like a deliberate Doonesbury knockoff, not helped by an interview where the creator went on about why he was edgier and better. I still suspect the strip owes much of its success to matching the look and feel of Doonesbury when a sub was needed, much as Mallard Fillmore was embraced by editors as the quasi-official "equal time" answer to Doonesbury.
Post a Comment

Saturday, January 28, 2017


Herriman Saturday

December 31, 1908 -- Last night at Jeffries' Arena, Herriman bore witness to the fight between Jack O'Keefe and debutante Muggsy Mullins; Muggsy lost and put the gloves away for good. In the feature bout, heavyweights Al Kaufman and Jim Barry were scheduled for a marathon 45 round bout, and Kaufman KOed his opponent in the 39th.


45 rounds is too much for today's fighters!!! I'm giving a 10 to 12 at the most!!!
Post a Comment

Friday, January 27, 2017


Wish You Were Here, from R.F. Outcault

A nicely symbolic Valentine's card, produced by Outcault foir Raphael Tuck. It's an undivided back, and uncharacteristically for Tuck, bears no copyright year. It was postmarked 1907, though, so probably produced in 1906.


Comments: Post a Comment

Thursday, January 26, 2017


Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Robert Lemen

Joseph Robert Lemen was born in St. Louis, Missouri on August 20, 1890, according to his World War I and II draft cards. In the 1900 U.S. Federal Census, Lemen was the youngest of two children born to Joseph Robert, a physician, and Ida. The family resided in St. Louis at 3223 Lucas Avenue.

In Cartoons Magazine, September 1918, Lemen spoke about his art training, early career and pastime pursuits.

“I went to the St. Louis Art School for two years,” he says, “most of the time studying painting. That was not the beginning of my art education, however, as I can remember feverishly drawing battleships and soldiers during the Spanish-American war, although I was only seven or eight years old at the time.

“I assure you I never did a bit of work at school, but spent my time decorating my books with handsome illustrations. “After leaving school I worked in a real estate office, a jewelry house, and a brick plant. Bricks, however, didn’t seem to be to my tastes, and I entered art school. After about two years I married, and needless to say started looking for a job. I landed on the Post-Dispatch where I have been about five years.

“My favorite sport is going to the theater or any other place where I can study human nature. I am also very fond of reading, and must confess I enjoy a good book more than a baseball game.”
The 1909 and 1910 St. Louis city directories listed Lemen as a Post-Dispatch artist whose address was 3906 Olive. The 1910 census said Lemen was in his father’s household in St. Louis at 4451 Washington.

Lemen’s marriage was reported in the St. Louis Star and Times (Missouri), October 12, 1912.
Marriage in Secret Shows Art’s Romance
The secret marriage four months ago of Robert Lemen, Jr., 5401 Cabanne avenue, and Miss Constance Andrews of Webster Groves, who were both pupils of the St. Louis Art School, Washington University, is another example of the proverbial romantic nature of the true artist, their friends say.

The young couple were married on June 14 at the home of the Rev. M.H. Lichllter, 5545 Maple avenue, but so closely was the secret held, that not until a few days ago did it become known.

In the meantime the bride had continued to be active socially, accompanying Colonel and Mrs. E.J. Spencer to West Point, where she was a general favorite at the commencement festivities.

Young Lemen has proudly announced his intention of gaining fame and fortune as an artist, and it is said he will be connected with one of the local newspapers. The couple in the meantime will continue to make their home with his parents.

Young Mrs. Lemen was given publicity come two years ago, when a surgical operation to correct her hip joint was performed by a famous Austrian surgeon who had been brought to this country for the purpose of operating similarly on Miss Lolita Armour, daughter of the millionaire Chicago packer.
Post-Dispatch artist Lemen resided in Webster Groves according to the 1914 St. Louis city directory.

Lemen signed his World War I draft card on June 5, 1917. His home was at 405 Orchard Avenue in Urban Grove, Missouri. Lemen, a Post-Dispatch artist, claimed his wife, child and mother as dependents. He was described as medium height and build with blue eyes and brown hair. Lemen’s address in the 1917 St. Louis directory was 6315 Cabanne Avenue.

Lemen, his wife, Constance, and son, Joseph Robert, Jr., were St. Louis residents in the 1920 census. Their home was at 6021 Pershing Avenue.

Lemen contributed to Wayside Tales and Cartoons Magazine, October 1921. American Newspaper Comics (2012) said Lemen produced a series of comic panels, for the Bell Syndicate, in 1922.

Buffalo Courier 1/15/1922

At some point Lemen moved to California. A 1926 San Diego, California city directory listed Lemen as an advertising artist residing at 1010 South Coast Boulevard.

Lemen has not yet been found in the 1930 census. His wife, Constance, and two children, Robert and Margaret, were in St. Louis at 405 Orchard Street. Constance’s marital status was recorded as widow.

Lemen has not yet been found in the 1940 census. He signed his World War II draft card on April 27, 1942. He was self-employed and worked at home, 4013 Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles, California.

Lemen passed away August 14, 1955, in Los Angeles, according to a family tree at Ancestry.com.

—Alex Jay


Comments: Post a Comment

Wednesday, January 25, 2017


Obscurity of the Day: Confucius Really Said

You all know the 'Confucius Say' jokes, right? The ancient Chinese philosopher and teacher has traditionally had his name associated with a multitude of puns and one-liner jokes. From the G-rated, like "Confucius say man who laughs last thinks slowest", to the explicit, like "man who have hot rod likely to burn rubber", and downright gross, like "Confucius say man who go to bed with itchy bum wake up with smelly fingers". Oddly enough, a pretty thorough search of the web comes up completely dry on where this particular gag form began.

What I do know is that in 1940, "Confucius Say" jokes were so popular that you'll find several newspaper features discussing what the poor fellow really said*. That leads me to believe that it was probably something that stemmed from the Charlie Chan movies of the 1930s, in which the Asian detective has a habit of quoting Confucian wisdom.

Anyhow, what I do know is that the 'Confucius Say' craze actually spawned a VERY short-lived panel series titled either Confucius Really Said or What Confucius Really Said. It only ran for one week, from March 18 to 23rd, 1940 and was distributed by the Associated Press. The idea was to show all the newspaper-reading jokesters that ol' Confucius really did have some wise and interesting things to say. Guess they could only come up with six of his sayings worth repeating, which doesn't speak well for the ancient sage.

What is impressive about the series is the the beautiful stylized art. Sadly the artist did not bother to sign his work. Since it is AP, though, we can reasonably guess it is someone from their bullpen. My guess is that the artwork is by Mel Graff, though it could also be Hank Barrow, who could vary his style as often and as easily as the rest of us change socks.

* Actually no one knows for sure, because the sayings actually attributed to him were first written down hundreds of years after he was dead.


Comments: Post a Comment

Monday, January 23, 2017


A Sampling of Bungleton Green

I happened to click the wrong button in the Blogger interface today, and what popped up but an unfinished draft of a post that I was working on way back in 2007!!

I don't know what I had in mind at the time, but  please enjoy this sampling of Bungleton Green comic strips from the Chicago Defender. These samples would have run sometime between 1934 and 1938 since they are by the terrific Jay Jackson, who was the third cartoonist to put his hand to this venerable strip.


Hi Allan -- Any idea what the numbers at the bottom of each panel mean?
One wonders if it had to do with the "numbers"/"policy" racket.
That's exactly what those numbers were for,EOCostello!
I think those are for lottery picks!!!
Post a Comment

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Subscribe to
Posts [Atom]