Thursday, October 27, 2016


News of Yore 1951: Caesar's Master Profiled



Gentle Humor Wins Fans for Comic Strip

Chicago Tribune, June 12 1950
By Leslie Moneypenny (Chicago Tribune, November 12 1951)

If you had a pooch like Caesar, you'd go wild-but you d love him.

The big, affectionate mongrel of the Tribune comic strip has an uncanny skill in putting his paw right on his master weaknesses. Nary a human foible escapes him. But he has a few foibles himself.

Caesar never speaks, but he has an incredible ability to point up the silliness of a situation or his master's inadequacies. This ability has led his fans to wonder whether he is more human dog than he is doggy human being. Either way, Caesar's hilarious.

The man who puts Caesar thru his paces is William Timyn (signature: Tim), who knows the value of laughter after what he has been through in Europe in the last 13 years.

Grew Up in Vienna
Timyn, who is 52, has been a professional cartoonist more than 27 years, but his drawing experience goes back to early childhood in Turkey. He was born there, but four years later his pop moved to Vienna and became an insurance executive. Timyn grew up there.

The artist s early talent for drawing paid off; he began selling his cartoons to Viennese papers. By the middle '30s he had built up a prosperous business with European papers, which secured his work thru a syndicate in Amsterdam, Holland.

In 1938, the Nazis took control in Austria, and Timyn, like all other Jews, was subject to the purge which removed people of that race from public and semi-public positions. He began efforts to get himself, his mother, brother, and another relative to England. Before he could obtain visas, he was flung into a Nazi concentration camp.

Out of Prison-and In
Because he had not dabbled in politics, he finally was released and succeeded in getting to England. But, as soon as World War II broke out, he was slapped into a British concentration camp as an enemy alien.
After three months, the British let him out. But the confinement had broken the newspaper connections he had been able to build up in England. He started again.

During these ups and downs, Timyn never forgot how to laugh. He became a commercial artist, did portraits, knocked out patriotic cartoons. After the war, he submitted to the London Sunday Graphic a comic strip involving a dog. However, the dog did not get the emphasis. The master did.

The editor said he liked the dog but took a dim view of the master. With the advice of an associate, Miss Billie Cooper, the cartoonist redrew the strips and made the dog the main wheel.

The happy result? Caesar!

There was a rumor for a time that Caesar had inherited blood from every canine since the days of Dido and Aeneas. Then came authoritative word from London, where the artist works: The pup started out to be an English setter, but in some fashion a little Dalmation sneaked into the picture.

Caesar has won his way into the hearts of lots of folks besides Chicagoans. He is bringing chuckles to readers in Italy, Brazil, Australia, Finland, Switzerland, Argentina, France, Sweden, and Denmark, as well as in Great Britain and all over the United States.

Readers love the shaggy mutt for his big heart, for his timidity, for his unspoken twitting of the human race. The canine comedian is a pooch without pedigree, a kennel club wallflower, a lovable lummox. He has flap-and-flop ears, a Cyrano schnozzle, and a bark with no bite in it.

When his master tries to teach Caesar to fetch things, Caesar teaches him to do it instead. The dog carries a first aid kit when the boss goes skiing. He growls at a puppy, eying his bone, but he chases bums off a park bench when an old man with an injured leg wants to sit down. He goes around patting kids and kittens on the head, is gracious to stray sparrows, and helps the nurse push the baby buggy.

If your dog doesn't remind you of this delightfully daffy four footed wit without words, there are two probabilities: 1-You don't act enough like a doggy human being to inspire him, or 2-there just ain't another dog nowhere like Caesar.


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Wednesday, October 26, 2016


Obscurity of the Day: Butch the Bully

Charles W. Kahles was the king of the repetitive gag in the 1900s, in my estimation, and Butch the Bully offers a sterling example to prove my case. Here we have four episodes from the short-lived series, which ran in Pulitzer's New York World funnies section from February 8 to May 24 1903, and the only slight deviation from formula comes in the second example above, wherein Butch gets his comeuppance not from his boss but rather from a cop. Otherise everything about the strips is essentially identical except for the particular MacGuffin that Butch appropriates.

Thanks to Cole Johnson for the samples.


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Tuesday, October 25, 2016


Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Thomas Worth

Munsey’s Magazine 2/1894

Thomas B. Worth was born in New York City on February 12, 1834. The birthplace is based on census records and the birth date in on Worth’s gravestone. It should be noted that the 1900 U.S. Federal Census recorded Worth’s birth date as August 1835. According to Harry T. Peters’s book, Currier and Ives: Printmakers to the American People (1942), Worth was born in Greenwich Village. 

Worth has not yet been found in the 1840 and 1850 censuses. The 1860 census recorded Worth as a bank teller who resided in Brooklyn, New York. He was married to Louise Stellenwerf and had a one-month-old daughter. Also in the household were a servant and nurse. Worth worked for several years as a bank teller. The New York Sun, November 21, 1886, recounted the story of how Worth’s sketch of a customer (below) helped solve a crime that took place in July 1867 at the City Bank. 
It’s not known when Worth quit his bank job.

A selection of Worth’s 1867 sketches, abroad a yacht, can be viewed here or here (pages 76 and 77).

Smoked Glass

Worth was contributing to the printmakers, Currier and Ives, as well as illustrating books including Plutarch Restored (1862), Smoked Glass (1868), The First and Fourth Books of the Aeneid of Virgil (1870), The Old Curiosity Shop (1872), A Bald Headed History of America (1876), and Deacon Boggles’ Struggle with a Liver Pad (1881) and A Devil of a Trip or The Log of the Yacht Champlain (1888).

Deacon Boggles and His Liver Pad

The 1870 census said Worth was an artist with four children, Evelyn, Marion, Percy and Dudley. The 1870 Brooklyn city directory listed Worth’s address as 71 Oak.

Worth’s occupation was figure artist in the 1880 census. His family, which included another son, Irving, lived in Hempstead, Queens County, New York.

The Brooklyn Daily Eagle (New York), January 29, 1881, reported the Water Color Society exhibition where Worth sold his work.

The New York Sun, October 11, 1882, reported the stabbing of Worth’s wife who was one of six women attacked by Ernest Doubourgne. The paper said her address was 666 Lexington Avenue. An 1883 Manhattan directory had the same address for Worth.

Worth contributed illustrations to A. Minor Griswold’s travels around the world lecture, George G. Small’s magazine Wild Oats, the New York Daily Graphic, JudgeSnap, and Scribner’s Monthly. The New York Times, October 15, 1894 said Worth was the chief artist of Texas Siftings magazine.

At some point Worth moved to Staten Island. The 1886 and 1890 city directories said his home was on Franklin Avenue. Queens County Sentinel (Hempstead, New York), July 24, 1890, published this item.

Isaac Snedeker, of Hempstead, has bought the yacht Dream of Thomas Worth, manager of the art department of the Texas Siftings and brother-in law of W. R. Stellenwerf, proprietor of the Be Car House of Hempstead. The Dream in model, interior decorations and appointments is said to be the handsomest yacht that skims the waters of the Great South Bay. Mr. Snedeker to receiving the congratulations of numerous yachtsman and friends over his recent purchase. Mr. Worth will invest in a larger craft.—World.
Worth’s artwork was mentioned in the Daily Standard-Union (Brooklyn, New York), June 3, 1892.
There are only a few of the old-fashioned country inns left on Long Island, but one of these is the Lake House at Islip, where Amos K. Stellenwerf has been the proprietor for many years. Stepping into the office of the hotel one day recently, my attention was attracted to a number of very striking pictures hanging upon the walls. One of them was a mirth-provoking illustration of the capture of Major Andre. There were a number of pictures of hunting and fishing scenes, and by a little closer observation it was seen that these pictures were from the pencil of Thomas Worth, who married a daughter of the proprietor of the Lake House. Mr. Worth’s humorous conceptions have become familiar to a very circle of readers of newspapers and periodicals, and meeting with some of them in this unexpected way was very agreeable.
Munsey’s Magazine, February 1894, profiled several caricaturists and cartoonists including Worth.

According to American Newspaper Comics (2012), Worth produced Hawaii Club for the New York Journal from August 29, 1897 to August 14, 1898. For the New York World, Worth drew Darktown from March 12 to May 7, 1899, and The Gamp Family from June 11 to 18, 1899.

In the 1900 census Worth resided in Hamilton Park in Staten Island. 203 Franklin Avenue was the address recorded in the 1910 census and the 1915 New York state census for self-employed artist Worth and his family.

Worth passed away December 29, 1917, in Staten Island, according to the New York, New York death index at He was preceded in death by his wife who died May 1, 1917.

Further Reading and Viewing
A History of American Graphic Humor, Volume 1, 1747–1865 (1933): pages 185 and 212
A History of American Graphic Humor, 1747–1938 (1938): pages 27 and 105
Biographical Sketches of Cartoonists & Illustrators in the Swann Collection of the Library of Congress (2012)

Tom Worth (1887 Milwaukee Sentinel profile)
Wild Oats
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Renwick Gallery

—Alex Jay


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Monday, October 24, 2016


Obscurity of the Day: Darktown and The Darktown Sport

Thomas Worth was a very well-known cartoonist/artist in the 19th century, but his fame was so ill-earned that I think it not entirely unfitting that he has been forgotten. Worth produced a large corpus of works, but his specialty was 'humorous' caricatures of black people. His initial fame came from the creation of a series of posters titled Darktown for the printmakers Currier & Ives. These sold like gangbusters, in fact they may have been one of the company's bestselling series of all.

In the Darktown series Worth usually depicted a group of blacks engaged in activities considered to be far above their station in life -- fox hunting, political debating, playing baseball (!) and so on. While the drawings often also had intriguing political and social overtones in addition to the racial depictions, it's frankly hard to notice those elements when confronted with such incredibly grotesque caricatures.

Worth's well-received posters brought him lots of other commissions, including many illustrations for humor magazines. Even the top market for magazine illustration of the day, Harper's Weekly, used his work extensively. In the mid-1890s, when Hearst and Pulitzer pioneered the Sunday color comics section, Thomas Worth was naturally in demand. Both publishers were able to attract his pen at various points.

In 1897 Worth produced a couple of series for Hearst, of which Darktown, aka The Darktown Sport, was one. Although the microfilm of the New York Journal was apparently too fragmentary for my or Dave Strickler's indexing to pick this series up, Cole Johnson supplied me with two samples from 1897 (the top two above). Unfortunately he dated both examples December 12 1897 by mistake, and so due to his very unfortunate demise, we don't know what the other date was or whether he had any additional examples from that year. According to Ohio State's Bill Blackbeard collection finding aid, they have a third example of this series dated December 26 1897 with a football theme.

For some reason Worth seems to have dropped his Darktown Sport series in favor of a basically identical series titled The Hawaii Club. It was the same sort of material, and I have no clue why the black characters were in the 'Hawaii Club'. Discussing the question with Cole Johnson way back when, he ventured a guess that Mr. Worth had no idea what a Hawaiian looked like, so he drew them exactly like all his other characters.

Worth didn't give up on his Darktown series, though. On July 10 1898, a new Coonville panel was published in the Journal, and several more appeared over about the next year. The last known Darktown panel was run on May 7 1899 (bottom sample). It was around this time that Worth defected to Pulitzer's New York World, so that probably does constitute the end of the series.

Although I say that Worth is forgotten, the amnesia isn't total. If you'd like to read more about him, I suggest these excellent posts at Yesterday's Papers and Booktryst. Also, thanks to Cole Johnson who supplied all the samples.


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Saturday, October 22, 2016


Herriman Saturday

December 17 1908 -- Secretary of Commerce and Labor Oscar Straus has made public remarks to the effect that the Chinese should be allowed to immigrate to the United States, in essence thumbing his nose at  the Chinese Exclusion Act, which severely restricts such immigration.

In what has to be Herriman's most racist cartoon at the Examiner, he not only comes out on the very, very wrong side of this issue, but applies a racist stereotype to the Chinese, draws the Jewish Straus with a big hawk nose, and even sideswipes him for his important work with the Arab nations when he was the ambassador to Turkey.

Not a great day for Herriman, the Examiner, or the people of California.


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Friday, October 21, 2016


Wish You Were Here, from James Montgomery Flagg

This postcard is from T.P. & Company, whose logo is a stag in a crest. It says it is Series 803, and seems to date to around 1911 or so. T.P. & Co. also produced this card in a cheapo version with no color, as Series 738, with the caption changed to just "The Hypnotist."

I don't know if T.P. & Co. licensed a bunch of images from the humor magazine Judge, or if this is a one-off. Postcard experts, are you out there?

Well, what I do know is that this is an example of James Montgomery Flagg doing his best to imitate Charles Dana Gibson. That was one of his early specialties, and he was pretty darn good at it.


Hello Allan-
Charles Dana Gibson couldn't resist tossing out a gooey scene of young rich lovers getting a visit from Dan Cupid somewhere, usually the centerpage of the famed cartoon & humor magazine, LIFE. Their major competitor was Judge, who had Flagg on their side as the antimatter version of CDG.
JUDGE was involved in lots of licensing of their cartoons, I've seen them as art prints, calendars and playing cards, and this post card could have originally been a cover or centerpage of a Judge issue.
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Thursday, October 20, 2016


Obscurity of the Day: Whisk

Like many of the leading Ashcan School artists, Walt Kuhn made more of a living as a cartoonist than as a painter early in his career. He did so mostly in the humor magazines, but he also did create a Sunday series for Pulitzer's New York World in 1909.

The series was titled Whisk, an odd choice of name for the star of his show, a little elf. The series began on Valentine's Day, February 14, with an epic storyline (well, epic for 1909) in which Whisk is commanded by the Elf King to go forth and find a poor lost sunbeam. The key to finding the sunbeam, he is told, is that it will be shining on someone who is totally and completely happy. A series of adventures ensues in which Whisk seems certain to have found someone who is just that over-the-top happy, but it always turns out that there is a little trouble in paradise. Kuhn writes the episodes as if he's telling one long continuous story, ending each episode with a cut in mid-sentence (see top two samples). Dickensian cliff-hangers they ain't, and the conceit comes off more as bad writing than anything else.

Finally in the May 16 episode Whisk does locate the lost sunbeam, shining down on a mother and her baby (all together now --- awwwww). The sunbeam is presented to the Elf King, who is so impressed with the job Whisk did that he presents him with a magic wand charged up with thousands of magic sunbeams. Whisk's new task is to go forth once again, find unhappiness and correct it with a barrage of sunbeam bullets.

The tone is thus set for the rest of the series, wherein Whisk finds unhappy creatures and gives them a jolt of joy-juice. Unfortunately, the series which was thus far written in straight if rather flowery prose, eventually changes to (shudder) really bad rhyme. As you may know, my tolerance for bad poetry is exhausted half-way through a haiku, and finally I think I have found fellow doggerel-haters in the editorial offices of the New York World. Whisk had usually been featured in full 4-color glory on an outer page of the World's Sunday sections, but once this darn poetry reared it's ugly self, the strip was almost invariably consigned to the 1- or 2-color interior ghetto. Maybe it was coincidence, but I like to think otherwise.

You'll find quite a few references saying that Whisk ran until October 1910, but that's not the case. I believe that error traces back to a typo in Ken Barker's New York World index in Stripscene magazine. Actually, the series ended on February 27 1910, which would seem to indicate that Kuhn was given a contract for one year's worth of strips, and the World passed on any more after that.

Thanks to Cole Johnson for the sample scans.


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Wednesday, October 19, 2016


Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Ted Brown

Library of Congress

Edward Scott “Ted” Brown was born in Stillwater, Minnesota, on September 14, 1876. Brown’s full name and birth date were on his World War I draft card. The birthplace was recorded his his Social Security application. The 1880 U.S. Federal Census said Brown was the youngest of three children born to lumberman George and Ida. They resided in Stillwater on Second Street.

The Literary Digest, October 14, 1933, profiled Brown and told how he got into art.

Edward S. (Ted) Brown — Born September 14, 1876, at Stillwater, Minnesota. High-school education — Minneapolis. Went to Klondike rush in ’98. Spent three winters and four summers knocking around mining camps of Alaska. Worked in mines, drove dog teams. Carried chain on the preliminary survey of the White Pass and Yukon Railroad. Also cooked for stripping crew of same outfit.

Commercial drawing in St. Louis advertising agency; same thing, Minneapolis Advertising Service Co.; ditto, Chicago. Comic strips on Chicago Daily News. Editorial cartoons on Chicago Daily News. Editorial cartoons on New York Herald Tribune.
Brown was counted twice in the 1900 census. He was a member of the family in Minneapolis, Minnesota, at 3207 4th Avenue. Brown actually lived in Porcupine, Alaska, with seven other people. He worked in mining.

The Seattle Times (Washington), April 21, 1940, said Brown “returned to Minneapolis with no gold, but with valuable knowledge of human nature and with a determination to make a living with lighter tools than pick and shovel. From an apprenticeship in an art shop in St. Louis, Brown soon graduated to commercial drawing and eventually broke into the newspaper field with The Chicago Daily News….”

American Newspaper Comics (2012) said Brown created over two dozen strips, including The Inventor, from 1904 to 1914, for the Chicago Daily News. Brown also contributed to four series by other cartoonists.

According to the 1910 census, newspaper artist Brown as a resident of Proviso, Illinois. He and his wife lived at 718 4th Avenue. The Indiana Marriage Index, at, said Brown married Amelia Otis on October 12, 1905 in Lake County. The couple had two sons, three-year-old son, Edward Jr. and eleven-month-old Phil.

Moving Picture World, December 1, 1917, said Universal Current Events, filmed 39 cartoonists, including Brown.

During World War I, the Editor & Publisher, May 4, 1918, reported Brown’s award-winning cartoon (above). Brown signed his draft card September 12, 1918. His address was 59 West Stone Avenue, La Grange, Illinois. The Daily News cartoonist was described as medium height and build with brown eyes and dark hair.

Self-Portrait in Literary Digest 4/12/1919

Brown’s address was unchanged in the 1920 census. The family included a third son, Gordon. In 1925, Brown joined the staff of the New York Herald-Tribune.

A 1927 Norwalk, Connecticut, City Directory listed Brown at 35 East Avenue which was the address in the 1930 census. The census said Brown’s household included his mother-in-law, Julie Otis, and adopted daughter Claire who was a year-and-a-half.

Seattle Times 4/21/1940

Brown has not been found in the 1940 census. His home address did not change according to a 1941 city directory.

Brown passed away December 28, 1942, in Norwalk. Many newspapers, including the Boston Traveler (Massachusetts), December 28, 1942, published the Associated Press report.

‘Ted’ Brown, Tribune Cartoonist, Dies
Norwalk, Ct., Dec. 28 (AP) — Edward Scott “Ted” Brown, 66, of this city, cartoonist for the New York Herald-Tribune since 1925, died today at Norwalk Hospital after a brief illness. He came to the Herald-Tribune in 1925, after 17 years with the Chicago Daily News.

Born in Stillwater, Minn., Brown went to Alaska in the gold rush when he was a young man and was a member of the Arctic Brotherhood of Alaska and the Adventurers Club of Chicago.

Mr. Brown leaves his widow, Mrs. Amelia O. Brown, three sons, Edward S., Jr., Philip R. and Gordon G. Brown, and a daughter, Miss Claire Ellen Brown, all of Norwalk.
The Berkshire Eagle (Pittsfield, Massachusetts), December 29, 1942, printed this article. 
Ted Brown, Cartoonist, Dead
Norwalk, Conn. — Edward Scott (Ted) Brown, an editorial cartoonist for the New York Herald Tribune for 17 years, died yesterday in the Norwalk Hospital after a brief illness. He was 66 years old. Mr. Brown joined the staff of Tribune in 1925, after 21 [sic] years with the Chicago Daily News. His cartoons, supplementing those of Jay N. (Ding) Darling in the Herald Tribune and papers subscribing to the New York Tribune Syndicate, appeared at frequent intervals until last June, when poor health reduced his work.

—Alex Jay


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Tuesday, October 18, 2016


Obscurity of the Day: The Inventor

I've written about the pioneering daily comics page of the Chicago Daily News several times here on the blog, so I'll just quickly remind you that they were syndicating an almost full page of comics, panel cartoons and text gags well over a decade before Hearst and Pulitzer got on board.

The Daily News comics page lost much of its vigor in the 1910s. Two factors were to blame. First, obviously their product was no longer unique and had to compete in quality with very good daily comics from the big syndicates. Secondly, the News' strips were now syndicated through the Associated Newspapers co-op, rather than the News' own syndication efforts, and the profit motive had been substantially muted. No longer was there constant experimentation on the back page of the News, instead there was now a short list of much longer-running strips that inevitably outlived their potential for humor. The cartoonists in the News bullpen were bred for experimentation, and now were yoked to the same old plough every day, and it didn't suit them.

One of the great cartoonists at the Daily News was Ted Brown, who started signing his first name only to back page series in 1905. He was incredibly prolific, as were many in the News bullpen, and he stuck around until the page had been pretty thoroughly usurped by syndicated material from elsewhere in the mid-1910s.

His last new series for the Daily News was The Inventor, which started on July 22 1914. It was not a true daily, but came closer to that standard than anything he'd done before. It was a very repetitive strip (as was true of many Daily News series). but Brown has to be given kudos for coming up with an endless series of new inventions that backfire in one way or another. At the rate of one strip every few days, I can see readers finding it quite entertaining.

Tracking The Inventor becomes difficult because, in a move that would become increasingly common in the newspaper world later on, the Chicago Daily News quit running the strip but continued having it produced. Associated Newspapers offered so much material that the Daily News ended up running outside series more than its own.

In the Boston Globe, which liked The Inventor well enough to feature it regularly, the strip became a true daily starting September 1915. They too tired of the strip, though, and I have to track it to 1917 through the less reliable source of the Columbus Monitor, which began running it that year. By then, though, Ted Brown was gone, and it was being produced by Austin C. Williams. The series came to an end in the Monitor on June 30 1917.


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Monday, October 17, 2016


News of Yore: Cartoonists Filmed in 1917

The Motion Picture World 
December 1, 1917

Roundup of Cartoonists
Universal Current Events Claims to Have Captured Thirty-nine Funny Men.

Universal Current Events, which recently inaugurated the policy of recreating newspaper cartoons for the first time in the history of the screen, announces that it has just completed its roster of cartoonists whose work is exclusively presented by it in the motion picture theaters. The list is a remarkable one, inasmuch as it includes practically famous cartoonist of nearly every leading newspaper in the United States. Here, for the first time, is given a list of the names of the men and papers participating in this epochal screen achievement:

W. A. Rogers, New York Herald; W. C. Morris, New York Evening Mail; Robert Carter, Philadelphia Press; Charles Henry Sykes, Philadelphia Evening Ledger; R. K. Chamberlain, Philadelphia Evening Telegraph; F. T. Richards, Philadelphia North American; John L. DeMar, Philadelphia Record; Fred Morgan, Philadelphia Inquirer; Nelson Harding, Brooklyn, N. Y.. Eagle; Ted Brown, Chicago Daily News; “Cy” Hungerford, Pittsburgh Sun; Bert Link. Pittsburgh Press; Elmer Donnell, St. Louis Globe-Democrat; Claude Shafer, Cincinnati Post; W. A. Ireland, Columbus Evening Dispatch; Harry J. Westerman, Ohio State Journal; Harry Keys, Columbus Citizen; J. H. Donahey, Cleveland Plain Dealer; James Lavery, Cleveland Press; Fred O. Seibel, Albany Knickerbocker Press; Wm. A. McKenna, Albany Evening Journal; W. K. Patrick, New Orleans Times-Picayune; Lute Rease, Newark Evening News; Alfred W. Browerton [sic], Atlanta Journal; Lewis C. Gregg, Atlanta Constitution; “Cad” Brand, Milwaukee; Sentinel; Gaar Williams, Indianapolis News; Cornelius J. Kennedy (“Ken”), Buffalo Evening News; R. O. Evans, Baltimore American; G. R. Spencer, Omaha World-Herald; J. P. Alley, Memphis Commercial Appeal; Paul B. Fung, Seattle Post-Intelligencer; John F. Knott, Dallas News; James J. Lynch, Denver Rocky Mountain News; Paul A. Plaschke, Louisville Times; McKee Barclay, Baltimore Sun; Walter Blackman, Birmingham Age Herald; A. J. Taylor, Los Angeles Times; Roy Aymond, New Orleans Daily States.


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Saturday, October 15, 2016


Herriman Saturday

December 16 1908 -- It was a pretty sorry bunch of bouts last night at Jeffries arena. The headliners, Billy Papke and Hugo Kelly fought to a draw, and the other bouts were all 'professional debuts'. Herriman ends up finding more to sketch outside the ring than in it. I imagine most of the attendees last night were most interested in meeting the great Chicago Cub first baseman and manager Frank Chance.


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Friday, October 14, 2016


Wish You Were Here, from Dwig

This 1908 divided back postcard by Clare Victor 'Dwig' Dwiggins is copyrighted by R. Kaplan, and on the back it says Germany Serie #49. I believe the caption here is a reference to a popular song or saying of the time, but I'll be darned if I can tease Google into admitting there ever was such a saying. The reference, of course, was to wonder about people who seemed able to live well beyond their means. Can anyone supply the origin of the phrase?

This is one of my favorite postcards, not for the front, but for the message on the back. It was sent by Amelia to Florence Randtke in Rochester New York. Here is the message:

25 15 21 18 16 15 19 20 1 12 9 19 16 18 5 20 20 25 7 15 15 4 2 21 20 15 25 15 21 11 9 4 9 12 12 10 5 20 25 15 21 10 5 20 25 15 21 9 8 15 16 5 25 15 21 3 1 14 13 1 11 5 20 8 9 19 15 21 20

 I'll leave it to you to figure out what that message means. Unfortunately I think Amelia's code broke down slightly in the middle of the message, but the intent is pretty clear.


The mystery deepens!
The cryptic code is a kid's idea of clever, in fact, this simple number substitution code is (or was) something learnt in Cub Scouts. The message is


There are a few Esperanto words in there, but I feel dirty reading such private, sensitive mail.

The phrase " Do it on $8.50 per" (or sum variant) was in common use generally then. Remember the Hall Room Boys' subhead was "how they do it on 7.50 per", back about 1907?
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Thursday, October 13, 2016


Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Ving Fuller

Ving Fuller was born Isaac Filler in Kisselynn, Russia, on March 17, 1903, according to the Immigration and Naturalization Service form, Declaration of Intention, which was filed in Los Angeles, California, on August 4, 1941. The form said Fuller was a newspaper cartoonist who had sailed aboard the S.S. Canada from Liverpool, England. He arrived in Portland, Maine, on January 15, 1913.

The passenger list recorded Ving as Isaak (11), his mother, Rebecca (38), and siblings, Ester (12), Taabe (9), Rahmann (6) and Michal (1.5). Written in column twelve, Final Destination, was Worcester, Massachusetts. The family was going to join “B. Filler 45 Providence St. Worcester, Mass.” according to column eighteen. The last column, number twenty-nine, said the entire family was born in “Wladimir, Russia”.

The 1914 Worcester, Massachusetts, city directory listed Ving’s father, Benjamin Filler, as a laborer residing at 90 Water. Benjamin signed his World War I draft card on September 12, 1918. His residence was “21 Waverly St” in Worcester.

The same address was found in a 1919 city directory and the 1920 census. The Filler household included Benjamin, Rebecca, Esther, “Tena”, Thomas, Samuel and Raymond. Ving has not yet been found in the census.

One of Ving’s younger brothers was the screenwriter and film director, Samuel Michael Fuller, who said he was born on August 12, 1912, in Worcester, Massachusetts, according to the book, A Third Face. Samuel identified his parents, Rebecca Baum and Benjamin Rabinovitch, who later changed his surname, and siblings, “my brothers, Ray, Tom and Ving, and my sisters, Evelyn, Tina and Rose”. Evelyn was Esther in the census. Rose was married to William Epstein, a taxicab driver, and had a seven-month-old daughter, Edith. The Epsteins lived in Worcester at 106 Lincoln Street.

The census said the Fillers were born in Russia except Raymond whose birth was in Wisconsin. It’s not clear if the entire family or just the parents were in Wisconsin. Samuel said he requested a copy of his Worcester birth certificate.

According to the census, Rose emigrated in 1904 and her father in 1911. The rest of the family started their journey in 1912 and arrived in the U.S. in 1913, as seen on the passenger list.

The Fillers’ residence in the 1921 Worcester city directory was 5 Mott Street.

Samuel said his father passed away when he was eleven. The family moved to New York City and settled in Manhattan’s Upper West Side on 172nd Street. The family and Ving have not been found in the 1925 New York state census.

Moving Picture World magazine published “Fuller on Bray Staff” in its August 15, 1925 issue. Ving was doing animation work for J.R. Bray. Ving left Bray and found work at the newspaper, New York Graphic. American Newspaper Comics (2012) said Ving produced Laff-O-Graphics from 1927 to 1929 for the Graphic. A photograph of Ving is here.

The Patchogue Advance 11/6/1928

Ving’s brother Samuel also worked for the Graphic. In the mid-1930s, Samuel moved to California and started a career in filmmaking.

Ving has not been found in the 1930 census. His mother and brother Raymond had the surname, Fuller, and lived with Rose’s family in Queens, New York, at 3825 56th Street. Rose’s second child was Stanley.

The Bridge World, February 1933, noted Ving contribution to the bridge club.

A portrait of assorted contented cows, executed by Mr. Ving Fuller, the club's artist, was unvealed [sic] shortly before the dinner.
The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, August 13, 1933, reported the exhibition of Ving’s portraits.
An interesting exhibition of sketches of officers and members of the Woodmere Country Club by Ving Fuller, former cartoonist for a number of metropolitan newspapers, is now being held in the lobby of the clubhouse. The cartoons are embellished with biographies of the subjects—including their idiosyncrasies and talents. Among the portraits on display are those of Supreme Court Judge Clarence G. Galson, Lewis J. Robertson, president of the club; Timothy McCarthy, Oscar Seagar, William Meissel, Harry Ackerman, William Wolff and Ellis H. Wilner.
American Newspaper Comics said Ving drew Helen Kane’s The Original Boop-Boop-a-Doop Girl from August 5 to October 21, 1934. It appeared in the New York Mirror.

Ving was a ghost artist on Ken Kling’s Joe and Asbestos, according to Hal Kanter (1918–2011) in his 1999 book, So Far, So Funny: My Life in Show Business:
Ving accepted me, probably because he had few friends. He was at least 25 years older than I and bitter that he had been reduced to ghost-drawing a comic strip called Joe and Asbestos for Ken Kling. The feature enjoyed its popularity on sports pages because each day’s strip contained a horse racing “best bet.” Kling was not much of an artist but he was a respected handicapper.
Kanter and Bert Gold, an aspiring artist, contributed more jokes to Joe and Asbestos. Kling eventually assigned the writing to Ving who paid his two young writers.

In Fall 1936, Ving drove his mother, Kanter and Gold to California to see his brother, Samuel. A week after their arrival in Hollywood, Ving ended his relationship with Kanter and Gold. It’s not known how long Ving and his mother stayed in Hollywood.

Back in New York City, Kanter told about a chance encounter with Ving

Ving Fuller approached me sheepishly on Seventh Avenue and asked it I could afford to buy him a hot dog. He told me he was unemployed, broke, alone. He was remorseful about his treatment of Bert and me in Hollywood….
At the time, Kanter was hired to write Ole Olsen and Chic Johnson’s Eliza Poppin. Meanwhile, King Features searched for an artist. Kanter explained what happened.
Ving’s name was, of course, known to the editors at King, and when I urged Ole to give him a shot at the strip, he agreed. Ving quickly drew three or four different faces of “Eliza.” Ole, Chic and Dick Hyman of King Features picked one. I typed out a week’s worth of comic strip dialogue, advanced Ving money to buy a Whatman board, India ink, pens and gum erasers and production began on Eliza Poppin. Ving’s work was fast, crisp, funny and quickly accepted by newspaper editors. The strip got off to a flying start….
American Newspaper Comics said Ving drew the strip from June 19, 1939 to January 6, 1940. It was continued by George “Swan” Swanson.

The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, November 10, 1939, reported the cartoonists’ contributions to a Chinatown restaurant. 

Lum Fong will shortly dedicate a “Cartoonist’s Corner” at his Canal St. restaurant. The Corner will be decorated with original sketches by such artists as Arthur William Brown, Billy De Beck, Rube Goldberg, Ving Fuller, Paul Fung, Chick [sic] Young, Ham Fisher and George McManus.
Ving has not been found in the 1940 census. His mother and brother Raymond, a cafeteria worker, lived in Manhattan at 336 West 95th Street. The date of his mother’s passing is not known. Raymond moved to Los Angeles where he died October 22, 1957. Samuel, a writer, lived in Los Angeles at 2050 1/2 Ivar Avenue.

At some point Ving returned to California and in 1941 filed, in Los Angeles, to become a naturalized citizen.

The Catalog of Copyright Entries, Part 1, Group 2, Pamphlet, etc., 1942, New Series, Volume 39, Number 8, had this entry: “Fuller (Ving)* New York. Olive drab. © July 6, 1942; A 125087. 25047”.

During World War II, it was the City of Angels where Ving enlisted in the army on November 10, 1942.

It’s not known when Ving was discharged from the army but he was in New York City when his naturalization was approved October 15, 1943. This was about six weeks after his mother was naturalized on September 2 in New York City.

Who’s Who of American Comic Books 1928–1999 said Ving drew the comic book character, J. Rufus Lion.

Ving’s longest running strip was Doc Syke, from January 8, 1945 to 1960, according to American Newspaper Comics. It also appeared in comic books. Later, Ving changed the title to Little Doc and distributed it through his Ving Features Syndicate.

Ving patented a toy bank in 1953.

Be it known that I, Ving Fuller, a citizen of the United States, residing at 4546 Stem Ave., Sherman Oaks, in the county of Los Angeles and State of California, have invented a new, original, and ornamental Design for a Toy Bank or Similar Article…
Ving and Walt Kelly were mentioned in Li’l Abner on December 7 and 14, 1958 and September 12, 1959.

The California marriage index, at, said Ving married Helen C. Dietrich on April 23, 1962.

Ving passed away August 2, 1965 in Los Angeles. His death was reported the following day by the Los Angeles Times. Samuel passed away October 30, 1997 in Los Angeles.

Further Reading
The Masters of Screwball Comics

—Alex Jay


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Wednesday, October 12, 2016


Magazine Cover Comics: Sunday Follies

Leonard T. Holton only contributed a few Hearst magazine cover series, and Sunday Follies was his last that I know of. The series was a loose conglomeration of wordy gags about people's activities on the Day of Rest. Of course, Holton's delicious deco-inspired art makes any gag seem palatable.

Sunday Follies was syndicated by Hearst's Newspaper Feature Service and ran from January 26 to April 13 1930.


Through your postings I've come to know several artists who worked in similar "Deco-inspired" styles. I'd include cartoonists like Gluyas Williams and Gardner Rea in this group. Their work has interesting similarities to the French "ligne claire" cartoonists of the same period. I wonder if there were cross-influences at work, and in which direction they flowed.
Hi Smurfswacker --
That's a great question, but my guess is behind door #3. I'd say rather that the Art Deco movement was an outside influence that inspired many cartoonists in Europe and here to reflect its sensibilities in their art. My guess is that cartoonists may not have necessarily looked to each other for inspiration as to the greater art world about them.

Clear line artists certainly pre-date Art Deco, so it may just be that it was that style that lended itself most to the Art Deco influence.

These are just opinions off the top of my head, and I'm certainly open to other more thoughtful interpretations.

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Tuesday, October 11, 2016


Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Dean Miller

Very little biographical information has been found on Dean Miller. An advertisement for the comic strip Vic Flint included a profile of Miller and was published in the Zanesville Signal (Ohio), February 15, 1959.

Dean Miller is one of the youngest artists in the United States to draw a top-flight comic. He illustrates the detective-adventure daily strip and Sunday page, Vic Flint, which appears in more than 500 newspapers.

A native of Springfield, Ill., Dean was born July 7, 1923. His family shortly afterward moved to Houston, Tex. Dean attended high school there and won a scholarship to the Houston Art Institute.

Miller’s baptism of fire in the cartoon world came at the tender age of 16. He landed a job as editorial cartoonist for a Houston weekly newspaper and after six months at the drawing board his salary was the same as when he started—absolute zero. It was guid training, but it bought no groceries, so Miller quit.

His next employer was Uncle Sam. After spending four years in the Air Force, where he was gunnery instructor, Dean landed a job as a cartoonist in Chicago. His work attracted the attention of NEA Service, Inc., and he reported for work in Cleveland early in 1950.

In October of the same year he took over the job of drawing Vic Flint. He is married and has two children.

The Sam Houston High School yearbook, Cosmos 1939, had a student named Dean Miller who was in the class of 1941. Miller has not yet been found in the U.S. Federal Censuses. Miller’s Department of Veterans Affairs record at said he served from February 2, 1943 to February 11, 1946. His birth date was July 7, 1923 and death date January 1, 1977. The record included his Social Security number. According to the Social Security Death Index, Miller’s birth year was 1924 and the day of death was not mentioned. His benefits had been sent to Feeding Hills, Massachusetts.

Miller drew a 1948 Sunday strip called Mighty O’Malley for the Chicago Tribune.

American Newspaper Comics (2012) said Miller was the second artist on the NEA strip Vic Flint which began with Ralph Lane on January 6, 1946. Miller drew the strip from July 31, 1950 to January 7, 1962. During Miller‘s run the strip was scripted by Michael O’Malley (pseudonym of Ernest “East” Lynn) and Jay Heavlin.

Apparently Miller illustrated the Big Bear Lake Valley street map which was listed in the Catalog of Copyright Entries: Third Series, Volume 19, Part 6, Number 2, Maps and Atlases, July–December 1965.

The 1954 Lakewood, Ohio city directory said NEA cartoonist Miller and his wife, Henrietta, resided at 17704 Fries Avenue. The 1956 and 1959 Fort Lauderdale, Florida city directories said Miller’s home address was 648 NW 21st Place. Also in the 1956 directory was the Dean Miller Art Studio at 440A East Las Olas Boulevard, Room 202.

Any information about Miller is appreciated.

—Alex Jay


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Monday, October 10, 2016


Mystery Strips: A Chicago Tribune Mystery

Writer Frank M. Young recently contacted me about a very intriguing mystery. He is engaged in writing a piece on cartoonist Dean Miller, most remembered (to me at least) as the second artist on the detective strip Vic Flint.

Young is in contact with Miller's family, and they told him that Dean Miller was further distinguished as the creator of a 1948 comic strip titled Mighty O'Malley Ex-Marine, which was syndicated by the Chicago Tribune. They produced as proof a photo of a Sunday strip, the only sample they have:

Young diligently searched for more information about this series, and came up with nothing. Which is why he came to me. Unfortunately I'd never heard of it either. But now we were both curious to try to solve the mystery.

The photo the family had originally offered to Young was rather blurry and was taken with the piece matted and framed (the one above is a sharper image out of the frame taken later). This led both Young and I to wonder if Dean Miller might have created a mock-up of the tearsheet for some reason, and that the strip was actually a red herring.  Although it looked genuine enough, how could a strip run in the Chicago Tribune have managed to so thoroughly escape the world's notice?

I asked Young to get the family to take a photo of the back of the sheet. Here's what we got (they took a pair of close-ups that don't quite stitch together):

What at first blush looks like a normal newspaper page is shown to be quite unusual under closer examination. You'll note that the text on this page looks almost like it was created on a typewriter as opposed to professionally typeset. Does that mean it's a fake? Actually, no, it is a proof that the page is genuinely from the Chicago Tribune. In 1948, the Trib was going through a protracted strike by their typesetters, and much of the paper was typeset in exactly this way. Score one for Mr. Miller's veracity as a ChiTrib almunus.

Unfortunately, trying to date this page is troublesome. Since the Chicago Tribune archives on the web have a search engine that is blinder than Mr. Magoo, I was not surprised at my inability to find this page using any of a dozen different search terms. Most of the material here is syndicated 'evergreen' material, making coming up with a publication date troublesome. I checked other papers to see when they ran some of the stories:

Climbing Butch -- 3/9 - 3/21/48
Peg-Leg Coyote -- 3/15 - 4/5/48
Hip Replacement -- 3/11 - 3/26/48
Circus Model Builders -- 3/12 - ad infinitum (popular article!)

That narrows it down nicely, and the one local story, the traffic accident, was reported in a few papers, one on 3/11, the other on 3/13. Since that story came from the Trib, I narrowed down my viewing to the editions of 3/11/1948 and earlier. Immediately I hit paydirt of a sort -- the story and photos appeared in the March 10 edition ( Unfortunately, the rest of the page doesn't jive with the tearsheet supplied by Miller's family.

As a last ditch effort, I manually reviewed the editions for the rest of the week, especially Sunday which could well have repeated the story for readers who buy only the Sunday edition. No dice though. So how could the comic strip have been printed, yet not printed?

Frank Young offered up a final clue. He points out that the Sunday Tribune in 1948 was 10 cents in Chicago, and 15 cents elsewhere. This copy is plainly offered for 15 cents, with no mention of the in-town price. That means it was clipped from an out of town-only edition. Therefore it could be that Mighty O'Malley was printed only in the out of town edition, which is not the version that survives on microfilm. Although it is unusual for the two versions of a paper to be different in such a major way, it is by no means unknown. In fact, I've heard convincing evidence that the New York Daily News, the Trib's sister paper, had slightly different versions of the Sunday comics line-up at some points in its history.

That is as far as Frank Young and I can trace this mystery. Now we ask you good folks out there -- have you seen any samples of Mighty O'Malley Ex-Marine, and if so, what can you tell us about them? Does anyone know of an archive that has the Tribune's out-of-town edition?


Thanks, Allan. Here's hoping someone in newspaper strip land can provide some more information. In the meantime, as we agree, it's a fascinating mystery.
This 1948 edition of EDITOR AND PUBLISHER has some kind of listing for MIGHTY O'MALLEY. But the snippet view is lmiited and almost unreadably small. Maybe someone has the physical issue?
Here's a 1946 comic with a "Mighty O'Malley" story, but credited to George Merkel. Could Miller actually be a later artist or could a title conflict have killed the comic or forced a title change?
Miller could have taken over the Merkle strip. A few years ago Alex Jay did an Inkslinger Profile on Merkle that has him passing away (March 12, 1948) at the time of this strip.
All Great Comics #14 (Oct. 1947)
"Famous Newspaper Comic Strips"
"Copyright 1947 Chicago Tribune"
But a couple of the features are not comic strip reprints.
D.D.Degg (hat tip: glynis37)
Hey Paul --
I'd swear I checked my E&P index and found nothing -- but on rechecking, it is there. Boy that O'Malley guy is sneaky!

Anyhow, E&P listed the strip for three years, 1947-49. According to Dave Strickler's index (I don't have my originals with me here) it was credited to George Markle (sp?) in 1947, and Dean Miller in 1948-49. It was a Sunday-only throughout.

And now glynis37 has found a comic book apparently reprinting some of the strips. Are the innards of that comic book online anywhere? has the full issue -- great website
Thanks Brad! Seems like the character does seem to have been created by George Merkle. Now if we could only find it in a doggone newspaper besides the family's sole example.
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