Monday, July 21, 2014


Obscurity of the Day: Heeza Boob

You really have to hand it to Mort M. Burger. His cartooning ability wasn't much better than your typical fourth grader. But would he let that stop him? Heck no. He was a man with a dream to make it as a professional cartoonist. 

What Burger lacked in artistic ability he almost managed to make up in salesmanship and energy. Although Mr. Burger has very few credits that made my book, his doggedness and chutzpah are certainly worth remembering.

Speaking of my book, the only credits for Burger you'll find there are a few minor series he penned for the New York Evening World in the early 1900s. But that under-represents his time at the World, because his style (well, perhaps style is too strong a word) is recognizable on literally hundreds, maybe even thousands, of those little one-column spot cartoons that adorned the evening paper in those days.

After his time at the World I lose track of him for a long while, but then in the 1910s he keeps himself constantly in the public eye by showing a flair for self-promotion. He started sending out press releases to industry journals for every event in his life, and often they printed them. From these we could (if we had a really good searchable version of E&P and The Fourth Estate, et al) probably track him on practically a monthly basis.

I have on file articles in which he was running an advertising art company, a photo reproduction studio, and even (I kid you not) a cartooning correspondence school. He would also occasionally promote a new comic strip series, presumably self-syndicated though he tended to puff the press release up with a high-class syndicate name.

Heeza Boob, which he seems to have self-syndicated, appears to have been a daily strip though I have not yet found a paper that ran it with great consistency. Alex Jay found it appearing with pretty good regularity in the Salem Capital Journal, and from there we offer tentative running dates of August 11 1915 to December 2 1916.

Thanks to Mark Johnson, who found some reasonably clear PDF newspaper pages from which our samples are taken. As rare as these strips are, we could all wait forever to find actual tearsheets.

Tomorrow, Alex Jay's Ink-Slinger Profile will fill us in on Mort Burger's life story much better than I ever could.

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Sunday, July 20, 2014


Jim Ivey's Sunday Comics


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Saturday, July 19, 2014


Herriman Saturday

Sunday, July 26 1908 -- Hunting and fishing are shown to be good in Southern California this summer.

I had no idea that hanging a fish above your food would discourage yellowjackets. Chances of me putting this newfound knowledge to use -- slim.


Actually, you hang the trout away from your food (and downwind), so it will attract the yellow jackets. Worked very well when I was a kid.
Ah! Good thing you explained that to me, as my trout was totally misplaced. I was wearing it around my neck to ward off those darn yellowjackets. Never had so many wasp bites.
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Friday, July 18, 2014


Sci-Friday starring Connie

Connie, January 31 1937, courtesy of Cole Johnson. 
Follow the Connie story every Friday here on Stripper's Guide.


Wow, on top we have a regiment of eunuchs to guard Connie...Smart! And below we get the secret origin of Soylent Green. Impressive
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Thursday, July 17, 2014


Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Art Beeman

Arthur D. “Art” Beeman was born in Los Angeles County, on January 8, 1914, according to the California Birth Index, 1905-1995 at In the 1920 U.S. Federal Census, Beeman was the youngest of two children born to Fredrick and Louise. They lived in Florence, San Antonio Township, Los Angeles County, California at 1407 Woodside Avenue. His parents emigrated from Hannover, Germany in 1884, and his father was a factory contractor. 

The 1930 census found the family in the same city but at a different address, 1311 East 83 Street. His mother, a widow, was the head of the household. The fate of his father is not known. Information on Beeman’s education and art training has not been found. His sports cartoon was published in the San Diego Union (California), July 30, 1933.

San Diego Union 7/30/1933

The Beemans remained at the same address in the 1940 census. He was a newspaper cartoonist. It is not known if he served during World War II. Who’s Who of American Comic Books 1928–1999 said he produced material for comic books in the early 1940s, and assisted on Seein’ Stars from 1940 to 1951. His comic book credits are at the Grand Comics Database.

The New Salem Journal (North Dakota) published his strip, Those Were the Days; selected strips: March 2, 1955; May 4, 1955; July 13, 1955; and December 14, 1955.

Beeman found employment at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The Star-News (Pasadena, California), May 9, 1958, published his comments about the American space program.

Caltech Speaker Predicts ‘Man in Orbit in 2 or 3 Years’
“The satellites already shot aloft are fingers reaching for knowledge of the unknown,” Arthur D. Beeman, art director for Caltech’s Jet Propulsion technical publications and former aircraft designer, emphasized yesterday before Council of Woman’s Club….
…Titling his talk “Spotlighting the Future in Transportation,” Mr. Beeman spoke of the new age of outer space flight which lies ahead. He predicted, “Within 2 or 3 years a man will be put in orbit and be safely returned to the earth.” He also opined that a manned outer-space platform will be in operation within 5 years.
Declaring that the moon, our nearest neighbor, is going to be the first goal, he explained, “Why are we racing the Russians to get to the moon first? Man’s curiosity is such that he is perpetually driven to find new ways and things by which he can improve himself, and this, the last physical frontier, this expanse of eternal mystery, he can’t resist.”
“Man must strive unceasingly to be the master of his physical universe. This space program is dedicated to man’s eternal quest for means to improve himself.”
He contributed art to Mars Revisited (1959) by Donald L. Cyr, and Mariner Mission to Venus (1963). Beeman passed away April 14, 1999, in Altadena, California, according to the Social Security Death Index. His portrait of William Pickering was used on the cover of William H. Pickering: America’s Deep Space Pioneer (2008).

—Alex Jay


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Wednesday, July 16, 2014


Obscurity of the Day: Those Were the Days

One of the things about our world that makes me despair is that most of us lack even the most basic knowledge of history. No, wait, that's not quite it. I have pretty much come to terms with the idea that many people don't know who was president during the American Civil War, or know when the Great Depression occurred. What actually bothers me is not outright ignorance, I guess. It is the fantasyland people have built around the past. Witness Art Beeman's Those Were The Days, which affords a perfect example. This genre of feature, in which the cartoonist paints an idealized portrait of the past, has been popular since the dawn of newspaper cartooning.

Many of us idealize the past, forgetting all the ills of those times, and repainting them in gay Disney-bright colors. Everything was better then, and if only this horrid modern world would stop moving forward, everything would be just great. This attitude goes well beyond nostalgia, which I suppose is pretty harmless, to an absolute rejection of the world as it is, in favor of one that supposedly, but didn't, exist in the past.

The past was not some idyllic time when everyone was nice to each other and everything cost a nickel. There were the same murders, kidnappings, rapes, and every other vice known today. For every decade you go back, sicknesses become more and more deadly, and its not too long you have to go before simply being born becomes a crapshoot. Government was not once full of earnest Jimmy Stewarts; it was corrupt in many truly spectacular ways that make today's politicos seem downright angelic.Rapacious businesspeople ran roughshod over workers and ruined the environment with immunity. Minorities were treated with all the courtesy of lepers when they weren't being taken advantage of, or, if we go back far enough, enslaved outright.

Every generation longs for the world of its youth. Life and the world seemed so simple then. Well, of course it did, for crying out loud! You were a child. You didn't worry about keeping your job, you weren't wondering if that weird pain that won't go away is cancer, you didn't sit in traffic for two hours a day, and you didn't have a honey-do list a mile long waiting for you when you got home.

You can bet your prized mint-in-box Flash Gordon raygun that people who had rotten childhoods don't feel much love for the 'good old days'. Being smacked around at home as a kid, or worse yet, not having a home at all, is a sure way to avoid the pitfall of revering the "good old days."

Okay. Got that off my chest. On to business.

Those Were the Days was by Art Beeman, the only comic strip credit by him of which I'm aware. The strip was produced for Al "Mutt and Jeff" Smith's weekly syndicate service. It debuted in 1951, almost certainly as one of the original line-up of strips and panels for the new service. (I still haven't been able to pin down an exact starting date for the service -- anyone?). As with most of the Al Smith Service features, Beeman's strip probably went into reprints at some point, but the strip was included in the service's offerings until 1983, an impressive 32 year run. I just don't know how much of that 32 years was new material, and how much recycled.

The strip was consistent not only in content but in format -- each strip began with a superfluous title panel, ignoring that the strip was titled in a headline above, and a middle panel with the caption "But now -- Wow!"


This reminds me of the old line, "The great thing about living in the past is that you can't be evicted."
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Tuesday, July 15, 2014


Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: A.Y. Hambleton

William M. Owen, Jr., the great-grandson of Arthur Y. Hambleton, contributed some family information which has been incorporated in this updated profile. The earlier profile is here.)

Arthur Yeager Hambleton was born in Baltimore, Maryland, on September 24, 1876, according to his World War I draft card at According to a family tree at, his parents were Richard Emory Hugg-Hambleton (1845–1898) and Ella Frances Yeager (1849–1933). Owen said: “Richard Emory Hugg-Hambleton was born Hugg but took his bride’s maiden name in order to keep her family name alive. That can’t have been a very common decision in the 19th century.”

The 1870 U.S. Federal Census recorded Hugg, his wife, Ella, and son, Willie, in District 12, Allegheny County, Maryland; their post office was located in Cumberland.

The 1880 census recorded the Hugg family, including Arthur, in Sharpsburg, Maryland, on Main Street. (The spelling of the surname was “Heugg”.) When Arthur reached his mid-teens, Owen said: “According to legend, A.Y. ran away from home at age 16 to join the circus because he could walk on his hands, and the circus sent him right back home.”

At some point, Hugg added Hambleton to his surname. When Arthur married, he had dropped Hugg from his name as reported in The Sun (Baltimore, Maryland), November 14, 1899:

Issued by the Clerk of the Court of Common Pleas 
The following marriage licenses were issued yesterday in Baltimore, the parties residing in Baltimore unless otherwise stated: 
Arthur Y. Hambleton, 319 North Paca street, Alice B. Sisselberger.
In the 1900 census, Hambleton and wife, were in the household of his mother-in-law, Mary Sisselberger, a widow. They lived in Baltimore at 1506 Mount Royal Avenue. Hambleton’s occupation was artist. Addresses for Hambleton were also found in the R.L. Polk & Co.’s Baltimore City Directory for 1901: Hambleton Arthur Y, artist, 1506 w Mt. Royal av; 1903: Hambleton Arthur Y, artist, Woodland av c Reisterstown rd; and 1904 Hambleton Arthur Y, artist, 607 Lennox.

One of Hambleton’s early works, The Theatrical Alphabet, appeared in the Baltimore Herald. He illustrated the poetry, which was written by H.L. Mencken, and the signed his name “Hamb”. The five-part series ran in early 1901.

Hambleton did number of chalk talks as noted in The Sun, January 2, 1902: “A chalk talk was given in the boys’ room during the afternoon by Mr. A.Y. Hambleton, a sketch artist.”; and the Morning Herald (Baltimore, Maryland), November 21, 1903: “An entertainment will be provided by Knight’s orchestra and Mr. A.Y. Hambleton, chalk talker.” On September 26, 1910, The Sun reported that: “A.Y. Hambleton, the comic artist and illustrator, recently launched on the vaudeville stage, where he gives ‘Chalk Talks’.”

Hambleton’s work was included in a number of exhibitions including the Charcoal Club (The Sun, March 10, 1905); the Newspaper Artists Association and the Book and Magazine Illustrators’ Society exhibition (The Sun, May 2, 1906); and the Journalists’ Club Show (The Sun, February 26, 1909).

The Sun 10/7/1906

The Sun 9/30/1906

Hambleton contributed cartoons to the Sunday Sun in 1906 and signed them “Hamb.” His Sunday strip, Waldo and His Papa, ran in the Washington Times (District of Columbia) in 1906 on these dates: July 8, July 15, July 22, July 29, August 5, August 12, August 19, and August 26.

In 1910, artist Hambleton was the head of the household which included son, Richard Waldo, born 1901. The family of three lived in Baltimore on Pimlico Road.

Hambleton signed his World War I draft card on September 12, 1918. He lived at 2710 Reisterstown Road in Baltimore and was a newspaper artist for the International Syndicate. His description was tall, slender, with gray eyes and brown hair.

In the next census, Hambleton remained in Baltimore at another address, 2710 Fanview Avenue. He had his own business as an artist. According to the 1924 Baltimore city directory, he lived at 2710 Reisterstown Road. Advertising Arts & Crafts (1927) had his business address: Hambleton, A. Y. Studio, 13 W. Mulbury, Ven 6065 Baltimore, Md. The 1929 Baltimore city directory listed his studio at 122–24 West Franklin and his residence at 3110 Reisterstown Road.

The 1930 census said Baltimore remained Hambleton’s hometown where he lived with his wife and mother at 3110 Reisterstown Road. He was a newspaper artist. The listing in the 1936 Baltimore city directory said his address was unchanged and he was an instructor at the Maryland Institute.

At some point after 1935, Hambleton moved to Severna Park, Maryland. He continued teaching at the Maryland Institute. The record shows that he completed the seventh grade. His home was valued at $4,500. In 1939 he worked 40 weeks and earned $1,500.

The Sun, November 14, 1949, reported the Hambleton’s fiftieth wedding anniversary. In addition to being a commercial artist, he had conducted guitar and ukulele lessons, for ten years, beginning around 1915.

Hambleton passed away July 3, 1957, according to a death notice, the following day, in The Sun:

Hambleton.—On July 3, 1957, at his home, Luna lane, Round Bay, Arthur Y., beloved husband of Beatrice S. Hambleton (nee Sisselberger) and father of Mr. Waldo Hambleton. 
Funeral services will be held at Wm. J. Tickner & Sons, North and Pennsylvania avenues. Due notice of services will be given.
He was buried at Mount Olivet Cemetery in Baltimore.

(Thanks to Cole Johnson for the color scan, and Leonardo De Sá for additional information from The Sun.)

—Alex Jay


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Monday, July 14, 2014


Obscurity of the Day: Countdown

Countdown is a really interesting panel. If you are into gag cartoons, the moment you look at an example of the series you know that it must be the work of master gag cartoonist George Price. Price's cartoons are quite distinctive, so there seems like no room for mistake. However, when you let you eye wander down to the signature, some guy named Dave Cox has signed it!

As perfectly as the style (and even the subjects!) seem to fit Price, I wondered if Price was using a pseudonym to produce a daily panel series. But that doesn't make a lot of sense. Price was not on contract to anyone that I know of, so there seems like there'd be no reason for him to hide behind a pen-name.

I might still be scratching my head over this one if I hadn't stumbled across two additional series by Mr. Cox, ones that he self-syndicated back in the late 1940s. In those series the George Price style is much less accomplished. Cox had yet to earn his chops as a doppelganger for that master cartoonist, and although he is definitely going for a George Price look, the effect is far less convincing.

Countdown was self-syndicated to a few newspapers (mostly or maybe all in California) starting May 16 1962. The latest I've found the panel still running is in early 1963, but I don't have anything like a certain end date.

PS: Oh, by the way. If you're confused by that second panel above, you young whippersnapper, you can watch this (overly dramatic) video relating John Glenn's odd encounter in space.


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Sunday, July 13, 2014


Jim Ivey's Sunday Comics


Would making a repeat offender read a book of puns be the appropriate PUNishment?

I actually like well done puns. You know, when they are truly punny.

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Saturday, July 12, 2014


Herriman Saturday

Friday, July 24 1908 -- Boxer cum movie actor Al Kaufman tonight squares off against the giant Russian, Battling Johnson, in a ten-round contest. Despite Johnson's piledriver punches (as alluded to by the comparison to Maud the mule), Kaufman bested the giant when the referee stopped the fight due to a bad cut above Johnson's eye.


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Friday, July 11, 2014


Sci-Friday starring Connie

Connie, January 24 1937, courtesy of Cole Johnson. 
Follow the Connie story every Friday here on Stripper's Guide.


In some respects, if you choose to think of app stores and smart phones, the "Wonder-Land" segment at the bottom isn't all that far off, is it?
I thought the very same thing, Eric. Frank Godwin, technology prophet extraordinaire! Now if only he could plot a story that makes just a little more sense, we'd really have something!
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Thursday, July 10, 2014


Obscurity of the Day: Hem and Haw

Alfred Frueh is quite well-known in the New York art scene as one of the premier caricaturists of the 20th century. Luckily for us stripper-types, he was not above penning some newspaper comics in the early portion of his art career. Though Frueh's newspaper work, like his later art, concentrates mainly on caricature, he also did several comic strip series, all of them for the New York World organization.

Hem and Haw, penned near the end of his association with the World, ran from June 13 1920 to February 6 1921. Though limited to a paltry quarter page and one washed out color on an inside page of the funnies section, Frueh's sinuously sexy, expressive line is nonetheless evident. His work seems ridiculously simple, at least until you try to duplicate it.

In 1925 the New Yorker snapped up Frueh as a regular in its pages, and that was about it for Frueh's dalliance with the newspapers.

Thanks to Cole Johnson for the scans!


Thanks, Allan and Cole! Frueh is one of my favorites! He did some Sunday pages in the early 1900s in St. Louis, didn't he? I think one of the Sunday Press collections includes one. Also saw a color cartoon by Frueh in one of those CARICATURE collections by Leslie-Judge from 1911.

Via this link you can hear a recent appearance of Bob Mankoff, cartoon editor of the New Yorker, on the Whad'Ya Know? radio show. Thought since this is about a New Yorker cartoonist this was an appropriate place to share this.
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Wednesday, July 09, 2014


Obscurity of the Day: Queenie

I'm a bit too young to be a member of the original Playboy-reading generation, but I did sneak peeks at my dad's collection often enough to be intimately familiar with the work of Phil Interlandi, who was a regular in their pages. Just Google "Phil Interlandi" and "Playboy" and select the Images option and you'll be treated to plenty of his bawdy (and beautifully drawn) cartoons.

Being in the know regarding Interlandi's deviant mind, the first time I saw the panel series Queenie, my reaction was, I imagine, similar to every Playboy reader's, "Oh my god, the newspaper's gone mad -- they're printing Playboy cartoons!!!!"

But no. While Phil's unmistakeable style is there, the nymphomaniacs and Casanovas are missing in action -- in fact the whole sexual revolution seems to have gotten a stiff dose of saltpeter. The cartooning style that is so inextricably associated in my mind with wanton women in all their nude, sex-hungry glory here is so chaste that I'm not sure the other characters have even noticed that Queenie is a buxom blonde in a mini-skirt.

Reader(s), I have a philosophical question for you. Let us take as our assumptions that

(1) I find Phil Interlandi's Playboy cartoons pretty darn funny
(2) I find his Queenie cartoons to be pallid, formulaic and a downright bore by comparison

 The question is what can we draw as our conclusion from these two pieces of information. I see some possibilities:

(1) the Stripper is so emotionally stunted that he automatically finds anything to do with sex funny
(2) our society is so uncomfortable with sex that the humor mines therein are rich and practically bottomless, making it easy to make funny cartoons
(3) Phil Interlandi put a lot more work into his Playboy cartoons; after all, Hef paid very well
(4) Phil much preferred drawing sex cartoons, and the Queenie series were basically just a job that he'd gotten stuck with, and he put in the minimum of effort

I think the overarching question of whether cartoons about sex have a (figurative) leg up on 'straight' humor is an interesting one. We certainly hear of people looking down at comedians who "work blue", as if they don't really have to work very hard for laughs because of it. I imagine the same can be said about cartoons.

Sheesh. That was quite the digression. I need to get back on track. Here's are Queenie's vital statistics. She was first syndicated by King Features on April 11 1966, and her long but never particularly popular run came to an end on May 10 1986, a full two decades. The feature was daily-only, no Sunday was ever offered (which is a shame considering Phil's color work is delightful).


I've always had a problem with magazine cartoonists who continued to contribute gag cartoons to magazines while attempting a daily panel (or strip).
I have come to the conclusion that their best gags were reserved for the better paying magazines and their syndicated work was where the lesser (or rejected) gags ended up.
Mort Walker and Hank Ketcham quickly gave up their magazine work to concentrate on their strips/panels. Did that make their syndicated work better, or did their successful syndicated work enable them to give up gag cartoons?
Hi DD --
While I agree with you that gag cartoonists generally slough off their weakest work on the newspapers, I can sympathize with them. When you are in business for yourself, having only one client will keep your stomach in knots and make it hard to sleep at night. I can imagine Interlandi keeping up Queenie as a hedge against a time when Playboy might say, "no more, thanks, been nice knowing you."

That being said, when cartoonists who have mega-successful newspaper series keep throwing additional features on the wall, apparently in some desire to have the whole darn comics page to themselves, I think it is very bad form, not to mention dilutive.
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Tuesday, July 08, 2014


Obscurity of the Day: Biff and Bang

Western Newspaper Union would occasionally buy up old stock of a dead comic strip, and Biff and Bang seems to come under that heading. Some prowling around the interwebs has brought me a few little nuggets of information about Frederick H. Cumberworth, the author of these rather prosaic strips about a set of mischievous twins Seems he was a Kiwi originally, but spent a lot of time (1890s - 1930s) in Australia as a cartoonist. In the 30s he seems to have moved on to Great Britain, where he seems to have spent perhaps as little as a few years.

Where and for whom he originally produced the strip Biff and Bang (or whatever it was originally called) I cannot determine, but in the 1930s it was reprinted in a German publication under the heading "Funny stories of an Australian cartoonist". 

I consider the term 'funny' being applied to these strips debatable. The pantomime form is a demanding one, though, so I suppose I owe Mr. Cumberworth a break since he was working with one funnybone tied behind his back.

Western Newspaper Union used the strip as one of its stable of weekly offerings from May 21 1942 to February 16 1944. Also worth mentioning is that the elusive Watkins Syndicate advertised a strip by Mr. Cumberworth in 1939 titled Buzz and Biff. My guess is that they were attempting to sell reprints of this same strip, just under a slightly different title.


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Monday, July 07, 2014


Obscurity of the Day: W.C. Fields

In the early 1980s, when the L.A. Times Syndicate was busy throwing licensed properties against the comic strip wall (Dallas, Star Trek, The Legend of Bruce Lee and Star Wars), one that really got lost in the shuffle, even more obscure than the others, was W.C. Fields.

As you most likely already know, W.C. Fields was a great film comedian of Hollywood's golden age. He was an iconic misanthrope, and one who reveled in every known bad habit. Unfortunately, by the 1980s the W.C. Fields persona was no longer sharply defined in the public consciousness. While the classic images of Fields were still cultural touchstones, relatively few people had seen any of his movies.

While it is a shame that the general public had begun to lose touch with the W.C. Fields character, it is beyond ridiculous that the LA Times was willing to do a strip about the man, yet right from the beginning diluted the character into an almost unrecognizeably plain vanilla version of himself. If the syndicate was afraid to do a strip about a man who drinks to excess, hates children and kicks dogs, why in the world do a strip about W.C. Fields? It would be like licensing the Marx Brothers and deciding that the strip should have Harpo speak, drop Chico's accent and swap out Groucho's moustache for a nice beard. 

The first team to tackle Fields-lite, starting on October 31 1982, consisted of artist Frank Smith, and Jim Smart.  Smart is unknown to me, but Smith had proven his chops on Disney's Donald Duck newspaper comic strip. The art is fine, as you would expect, though Fields is made to look far too cuddly -- but the lackluster amiable gags are enough to make the ghost of Fields move to Philadelphia.

By July 1983 somebody had decided that something had to be done to, if not necessarily save the strip, at least rehabilitate the W.C. Fields image. On July 31, a new creative team took over. Gags were now credited to a member of W.C.'s own family, Ronald J. Fields. Ronald was very much involved in licensing of his grandfather's images, but was also a scholar, having published several books about his grandpa. While Ronald may not have necessarily inherited his grandfather's comedic gifts, at least his heart was in the right place. All of a sudden, Fields became rancorous, lethargic and half-lit -- just as he ought to be.

Throwing the baby out with the bath water, artist Frank Smith also exited, and was replaced by Fred Fredericks. Apparently Mandrake the Magician wasn't keeping Fredericks busy, so he tried his hand at this strip, probably knowing that the gig would be short-term.

And short term it certainly was. The latest I can find the W.C. Fields strip running is August 7 1983, meaning that if I have the right end date then the new team was active for a mere two weeks. However, all my dates cited in this article are for the Sunday strip -- it may be that the even rarer daily switched creators earlier and/or lasted longer.  (Actually, I have yet to find a single example of the daily strip running anywhere -- it was advertised as available, but did it even exist?).

I have no doubt that there is more to the story of the W.C. Fields comic strip, and I've undoubtedly made assumptions that will turn out to be wrong. I'd certainly be delighted to hear from anyone who was involved in the strip, to get all the details right about this strange tale.


Ah, yes.
My first thought of W. C. and comic strips go to The Great Gusto and Big Chief Wahoo.
Followed by Larsen E. Pettifogger from The Wizard of Id.
Barnaby's Mr. O'Malley may have been closer to Fields in attitude, in not appearance, than the other two.
Surely there were more comic strip characters based on W. C. Fields.
Did WC ever appear in the Mortimer and Charlie strip?
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Sunday, July 06, 2014


Jim Ivey's Sunday Comics


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Saturday, July 05, 2014


Herriman Saturday

Sunday, July 19 1908 -- The Angels are off on yet another long road trip in a season full of them.


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Friday, July 04, 2014


Sci-Friday starring Connie

Connie, January 17 1937, courtesy of Cole Johnson. 
Follow the Connie story every Friday here on Stripper's Guide.


Did you see that Charles Pelto of Classic Comics Press has listed
Frank Godwin's Connie - Sundays Volume 1 - more info to come!--on his 'upcoming release' schedule?
Hi. Charles here from Classic Comics Press. I do indeed plan to do a volume of Sundays. Right now, between myself and a couple other collectors I have access to roughly 300 mostly the early years. What I would love to find are the SciFi storylines. Right now it is in the very early stages. I'm thinking 2016 pub date. Cheers, Charles
That would be fantastic!

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Thursday, July 03, 2014


Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Elmer Messner

Elmer Reed Messner was born in Rochester, New York, on May 30, 1900, according to the 1900 U.S. Federal Census (place) and his World War I draft card (date). In the 1910 and 1920 censuses, and draft card, his surname was spelled “Moessner”.

In 1900, Messner was the second of two sons born to Charles, an upholster, and Susan. His father was born in Germany and mother in New York. They lived in Rochester at 43 Martin.

The 1910 and 1920 censuses recorded the Messners in Rochester at 98 Myrtle Street. Messner signed his World War I draft card on September 12, 1918. He was a student at the Mechanics Institute. His description was medium height and build, with brown eyes and hair.

The Courier-Journal, February 17, 1956, said Messner “attended city public schools…and studied at the Art School of Rochester Athenaeum, Mechanics Institute and the Art Students League, New York City….[He] was sports cartoonist for the now defunct Rochester Herald and the Rochester Times-Union from 1923 to 1932….”

According to the Rochester Institute of Technology Library, Messner “graduated from the Rochester Institute of Technology in 1918 and…In 1925 he returned to RIT to teach drawing. He taught there for over twenty years….”

The Daily Record (Rochester, New York), July 26, 1923, reported a marriage license issued to: “Elmer Reed Messner, 98 Myrte st, artist, and Grace I Eysvogel, 8 Delmar st.”

In 1926, Messner created the panel, That’s Not the Half of It, for Editors Feature Service.

According to the 1930 census, newspaper artist Messner, his wife and two sons resided in Rochester at 90 Roxborough Road.

The Courier-Journal said Messner was editorial cartoonist for the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle from 1932 to 1934. He joined the Times-Union staff as editorial cartoonist and editor and illustrator of an outdoors column.

The 1940 recorded Messner at the same address plus a third child. He was a newspaper cartoonist.

Messner retired from the Times-Union in 1964.

Messner passed away May 23, 1979, in Pittsford, New York. His death was reported in several New York state newspapers including the Herald News (Avon, New York), May 30, 1979:

On May 23, 1979, Elmer R. Messner of Pittsford. He is survived by his wife, Grace; one son, Paul; daughter and son-in-law, Carolyn and Edward Bean of Ithaca; daughter-in-law, Gwendolyn Messner of Lakeville, NY; ten grand-children; five great-grand-children; Friends wishing may contribute to the First Presbyterian Church of Pittsford Memorial Fund in his memory or the Elmer Messner Scholarship of Fine Arts, c/o Rochester Institute of Technology.
He was buried at Temple Hill Cemetery in Geneseo, New York.


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Wednesday, July 02, 2014


Obscurity of the Day: That's Not the Half of It

For the second time this week, we're covering one of those panel series in which your imagination supplies the yet-to-have-happened gag. I love these things when they're done well. That's Not the Half of It sometimes hits the mark and sometimes doesn't, about par for the course. I'd rate two of the samples above as good gags, the rest are either too obvious or don't really hew to the theme, which is that there is already one gag happening, but a bigger one is about to occur.

Elmer (aka Al) Messner penned this series, his only syndicated comic strip that I know of. The earliest examples I've found are from February 1926. The syndicate was the smallish Editors Feature Service, whose history is a bit murky. They were responsible for some very good features, but got bought out by Central Press Association in 1927. That's Not the Half of It seems to have been a casualty of that sale, as were many of EFS's less stellar features, and seems to have ended in July 1927.

Elmer Messner went on to a distinguished career as an editorial cartoonist, mostly for the Rochester Times-Union.

Thanks to Cole Johnson for the samples!


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Tuesday, July 01, 2014


Obscurity of the Day: Dreamy Dave

No, Winsor McCay certainly wasn't first to take on the subject of dreams in comics, but Dreamy Dave will not tempt you to knock him off his pedestal as king of the dream comics.

Dave has an unfortunate habit of acting out his dreams in real life, which should afford us with an interesting different take on the subject of dreams. Unfortunately a lack of imagination leads to some pretty darn lame strips.

Dreamy Dave debuted on November 13 1904 in the World Color Printing Sunday section, in a series drawn by someone signing themselves what looks like 'Jarrant'*. I don't have any samples at hand of his version of the strip, but you can see them all over at Barnacle Press. The barely passable art of Jarrant reminds me somewhat of Dink Shannon's work, but why Shannon would have chosen to use a pseudonym on a couple strips in late 1904 is unknown.

The Jarrant version of Dreamy Dave only lasted until November 27, a mere three episodes. However, the series was soon resurrected by C.H. Wellington, who penned additional episodes from March 12 to June 25 1905. His version might have been a bit better drawn, but it was no more humorous. Eventually Wellington would be one of the brighter humorous lights on the comics page, but this was only his second pro series, and he was still learning his craft.

Thanks to Cole Johnson for the samples!

* Alex Jay can find no evidence of a cartoonist named Jarrant. Though this might lead a mere mortal to assume that Jarrant is indeed simply a pen-name, Mr. Jay is not so easily put off the scent. Trying other variations of the spelling, he does find a John Tarrant, who shared a studio with New York Journal cartoonist Gus Dirks in 1902 (right before Gus offed himself). Alex says he can find no evidence of this Tarrant being a cartoonist, working for a newspaper, or of having a St. Louis connection (as did many of the World Color Printing cartoonists), but it does leave the door open to the possibility. Thanks Alex!


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Monday, June 30, 2014


Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: B. W. Depew

Benjamin Walter Depew was born in Kansas on June 3, 1888, according to census records and the Social Security Death Index. His full name was found in The Descendants of William Kellie of Scotland (1994).His parents were John Walter Depew and Evaline Sylvia Cox.

In 1900 U.S. Federal Census, Depew was the youngest of four children. The family resided in Yates Center, Kansas on Rutledge Street. His father was the assistant postmaster. In the 1905 Kansas State Census, Depew was the fourth of five children.

According to the 1910 census, Depew, his parents and two siblings remained in Yates Center but on Washington Street. His father was a cashier at the National Bank. Depew was 21 years old and unemployed. Information regarding his education and art training has not been found.

Not long after the census, Depew was a cartoonist at the Wichita Eagle. One of his Eagle cartoons, “Who Cut the Price?”, was reprinted in The American Pressman, March 1911, and International Horseshoers’ Monthly Magazine, April 1911.

At some point, Depew moved to Topeka, Kansas, where he worked at the Capper Engraving Company. The Wichita Stamp Club Newsletter, January 2010, said he met Coy Avon Seward who was in the Capper art department. In 1913, Depew drew a cartoon of Seward which was reproduced on page 12 of the catalog, C.A. Seward: Artist and Draftsman. A passage from the catalog said:

…He [Seward] often traveled with his friends Ben Depew and Leo Courtney, as well as author William Stanley Campbell (pen name Stanley Vestal), to observe ceremonies of Plains Indian tribes in Western Kansas and Oklahoma. Depew depicted some of these adventures in cartoon drawings and photographs…
Depew’s photographs were published in Life Among the Cheyennes; some of them can be viewed at Cheyenne & Arapaho Tribes. The book’s endpaper has a pasted, cut-out portrait that may be Depew. A photograph of Depew and Seward is here.

The Fourth Estate, August 19, 1916, noted that Depew had been at Capper “…and for several months staff photographer and artist of the Des Moines Tribune’s editorial department, has been placed in charge of the art department of both the Register and Tribune.”

Depew’s World War I draft card is not available but the U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs Death File, at, said he enlisted May 25, 1917 and was released May 10, 1919. The Editor & Publisher, June 15, 1918, reported the Register-Tribune’s banquet honoring its employees, including Depew, who were in military service. The Hutchinson News (Kansas), February 19, 1919, mentioned a wounded “Sergeant Benjamin Walter Depew, Yates Center.”

Depew was counted twice in the 1920 census. He was in his parents’ household in Yates Center, at 307 Mary Street, and a Kansas City Star cartoonist. Over in Des Moines, Iowa, he was listed as “W.B. Depew”, a roomer at 1047 Seventh Street and cartoonist with the Register and Leader newspaper.

According to The Descendants of William Kellie of Scotland, Depew married Helen Westerfield on May 31, 1923.

The 1925 Iowa State Census recorded Depew, his wife and son, Walter, in Des Moines on Pleasant Street.

The Fourth Estate, September 4, 1926, announced Depew’s new assignment.

Robert E. Dickson, Assistant Sunday editor of the St. Paul Pioneer Press, has transcribed his experiences with a new son into a daily humorous narrative, The Diary of a New Father. The feature, illustrated by Walt DePew, will be released early in September by the Des Moines Register and Tribune Syndicate.
According to American Newspaper Comics (2012), Ned Brant was drawn by Depew, written by football coach, Bob Zuppke, and distributed by the Des Moines Register and Tribune Syndicate. The strip debuted October 21, 1929. The Sunday Ned Brant included two topper features, Off the Campus and Baseball by Ned Brant, and all debuted January 27. Off the Campus was replaced by They’re Still Talking. The Baseball by Ned Brant series gave way to explanations of other sports, like football, basketball, etc. 

Ted Ashby took over the writing of Ned Brant in 1942. The title changed to Dick Ember on November 3, 1948. The strip ended June 4, 1949. Ned Brant also appeared in comic books.

 Seattle Times 8/25/1935

Seattle Times 9/1/1935

The 1930 census said newspaper artist Depew remained in Des Moines at a different address, 1801 West 38th Street. A second son, Robert, was part of the family.

American Newspaper Comics said Depew drew Slim and Tubby (previously titled Flying to Fame) from June 3 to December 3, 1932.

Depew remained at the same address and profession in the 1940 census. He had four years of high school and did not attend college. In 1939 he worked 52 weeks and earned $3,300.

Depew passed away August 21, 1986, in Des Moines, according to the Social Security Death Index and his veteran’s death file. He was buried in Glendale Cemetery.

—Alex Jay


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Sunday, June 29, 2014


Jim Ivey's Sunday Comics


I have a cigar box that my grandfather/grandmother used to keep photos in. It still has the same photos... alas no cigars.
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Saturday, June 28, 2014


Herriman Saturday

Friday, July 17 1908 -- A visually striking Herriman cartoon with a sentiment that applies just as well today as a hundred years ago. The United States is just a big cow being milked by big business and politicians.


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Friday, June 27, 2014


Sci-Friday starring Connie

Connie, January 10 1937, courtesy of Cole Johnson. 
Follow the Connie story every Friday here on Stripper's Guide.


Regarding that delightful topper/bottom strip 'Wonder-land'...
It's nice to see that all those Mary Kay Cosmetics Sales Points were still valid in the 30th Century. My neighbor-whom I avoid like a Venusian plague-- is about 357 make-overs short of a Pink Hover-craft.
Hmm...Perhaps all of those S&H Green Stamps I've been sitting on regain their cash value sometime in the distant future. I've had my eye on a swiveling end table. The mind reels....
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Thursday, June 26, 2014


Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Augustus J. Robinson

Augustus Joseph Robinson was born in Boston, Massachusetts on September 28, 1886, according to the City of Boston Birth Records at His parents were Frederick and Sarah.

In the 1900 U.S. Federal Census, Robinson was the second of three children. Their father was a messenger. The family lived in Boston at 184 Webster Street.

Robinson was a clerk, at 180 Devonshire, according to the 1906 Boston city directory. He resided at his parents’ home.

In 1910, Robinson was at the same address but employed as a “checker” at a “freight shed”. His employment as a stereotyper, in the printing trade, was listed in the 1913 through 1916 city directories. His address was 641 South Street, his parents’ home.

On June 5, 1917, Robinson signed his World War I draft card which had his birth year as 1888. His address was unchanged but his occupation was commercial artist at the Denninson Manufacturing Company. His description was five feet six inches, slender build with blue eyes and light brown hair. According to the Boston Traveler, October 12, 1963, he was a navy veteran and “official illustrator for the First Naval District”. Information regarding his art training has not been found.

The 1920 census recorded Robinson as part of his parents’ household. He was a designer in the engraving industry. The city directory, of the same year, listed him twice: “Augustus A”, commercial designing; and “Augustus J”, artist. The 1922 and 1925 directories had two listings for him: “Augustus J (Bob Robinson)” and “Bob (Augustus J Robinson) commercial artist”, both working at 170 Summer, room 327.

Robinson has not yet been found in the 1930 census. According to the 1934 city directory, the artist continued to live at his parents’ address. He had an entry in the Catalog of Copyright Entries, Part 4, Works of Art, Etc., 1931, New Series, Volume 26, Number 4:
Robinson (Augustus Joseph) Roslindale, Mass. 10626-1963[?] (Famous American ships) :Fore-word, etc.—Mary Celeste (Brigantine)—Olympia (Cruiser) Sovereign of the Seas (Ship)—Trenton (U.S.S.) © Oct. 16, 1931; 2 c each Dec. 28; K 15364–15368.
Robinson’s navy background and experience proved useful in his Sunday page, Decks Awash, which began November 16, 1935. A few of those strips, and the topper, Sailor’s Knots, were reprinted in the comic book, The Comics, in 1938.

At some point, Robinson married Mary Sullivan. They were listed in the 1939 city directory at 273 Chestnut Avenue. He was a junior draftsman at the “US Govt Eng’s office”.

The couple’s address was the same in the 1940 census. Robinson was a map draftsman in geodetic survey. His World War II draft recorded his home address as 641 South Street. He was employed at Massachusetts Geodetic Survey in Cambridge.

He continued work as a draftsman. A 1945 city directory said he lived at 9 Rawston Road. Robinson had an exhibit at Paine Furniture Company, which ran an advertisement in the Boston Traveler, October 25, 1945.

He copyrighted a color print in 1948.

Around 1946, Robinson moved to New Hampshire. The 1952 and 1960 Exeter city directories listed his address as Robin Road and occupation as artist.

Robinson passed away October 11, 1963, in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. His death was reported the following day in the Boston Traveler.

A.J. Robinson, 70, Marine Artist and U.S. Navy Veteran 
Rye, N.H.—Augustus J. Robinson, 70, of 12 Robin Rd., a marine artist, died Friday at Portsmouth Hospital. 
Born in Boston, he moved here from the Roslindale section of the city 17 years ago. He was formerly artist on the now defunct Boston Post. 
A World War I Navy veteran, he was the official illustrator for the First Naval District. 
He was a member of the Roslindale Post, A.L. [American Legion], the Arthur T. Patch Barracks, World War I Veterans; the Portsmouth Art Association and the St. James Holy Name Society in Portsmouth. 
He leaves his wife, Mary (Sullivan); a brother, Frederick A., Jr., of West Roxbury, Mass., and a sister, Mrs. Sarah L. Bertsch of South Natick, Mass.
A solemn high requiem Mass will be sung at 9 a.m. Monday in St. James Church, Portsmouth. Burial will be in Holyhood Cemetery, Brookline, Mass.

—Alex Jay


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Wednesday, June 25, 2014


Obscurity of the Day: Decks Awash

When the George Matthew Adams Service decided to get into the business of producing Sunday comics, they made a pretty ridiculous marketing blunder. Instead of competing head-to-head with other syndicate offerings for space in the regular Sunday funny pages, they chose to create their own complete 8-page tabloid Sunday comics section. 

The reasoning for going that route is simple. There are lots of newspapers all around the country that don't have the resources to print their own comics, or to pay one of the big national printers to do it for them. GMA reasoned that if they could get their sections printed on the cheap -- not a problem if you were printing up a huge number for a whole bunch of client papers -- that they could offer these smaller papers an attractively inexpensive Sunday comics section.

The only problem with the idea -- which sounds pretty good on the surface -- is that it had been tried plenty of times by others. The last time the idea had worked well was back in the '00s! Since then the economics of the newspaper industry had changed such that a preprint Sunday comics section scheme just didn't make sense. The papers who were so small as to not be able to pay for a full-fledged comic section, were run on such a threadbare shoestring that they couldn't afford even the low-cost preprint section.

Just as others before and after them, George Matthew Adams got plenty of initial interest from small papers, but when it came time to actually cough up some dough, empty pocket syndrome set in.

Anyway, that's a lot of explanation to lead us to today's obscurity, which was one of the features of that ill-fated preprint section. The George Matthew Adams Sunday section lasted less than a year, and appeared in a small number of country papers. Decks Awash was actually a replacement in the section, taking over the spot previously occupied by an airborne adventure strip titled Cap'n Cloud.

The fault, as I said, was mostly to do with the economics of the section, not so much the content, some of which was pretty appealing. That includes Decks Awash, which despite the terrible handicap of being an educational history strip, was far from the worst I've encountered from that genre. Sure, the strip was a bit wordy, but the stories were fast-paced.  They also depicted scenes of battle, a sure way to get junior to at least peruse the strip, even if he assiduously refrained from reading any of the captions. The kids might even find time on a lazy Sunday afternoon for trying out some of the fancy Sailor's Knots depicted in the strip's topper panel. 

The author/artist was a fellow by the name of Augustus J. Robinson, who has no other comic strip credits that I know of. He did achieve some small measure of fame for his historical nautical paintings later on.

Decks Awash appeared in the section from November 16 1935 until the presumed end of the section's life (meaning I have yet to find any later samples) on April 4 1936. The topper changed to Sailor's Ways starting March 7, as I presume the author ran out of knots to depict.


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