Thursday, July 30, 2015


Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Al Demaree

Albert Wentworth “Al” Demaree was born in Quincy, Illinois, on September 8, 1884, according to his World War II draft card. Wentworth was his mother’s maiden name. Information about Demaree’s education and art training has not been found.

In the 1900 U.S. Federal Census, Demaree was the oldest of two children born to Albert, a typesetter, and Ella. The family resided in Cicero, Illinois.

The Cook County, Illinois, Marriages Index, at, said Demaree married Alpha C. Windle on March 31, 1909, in Chicago.

The 1910 census recorded commercial artist Demaree, but not his wife, in his father’s household, which included his brother Eaton. They lived in Chicago at 3739 Humboldt Avenue. The census said Demaree was a widower, but his wife was named on his World War I draft card and in future censuses.

According to Wikipedia, Demaree was a pitcher in the baseball Major Leagues from 1912 to 1919. He played for the New York Giants, Philadelphia Phillies, Chicago Cubs and Boston Braves. Two of his cartoons can be viewed here and here. Demaree was profiled in the El Paso Herald (Texas), October 2, 1913.

American Newspaper Comics (2012) said Demaree drew Alonzo Pest Becomes a Giant in May 1913, and Red and Rube from 1915 to March 18, 1916.

When Demaree was with the Cubs, the Santa Fe Magazine, April 1917, published a story about his mule ride at the Grand Canyon.

Demaree signed his World War I draft card, on September 12, 1918. He resided in Manhattan, New York City, at 51 St. Nicholas Place. His occupation was draftsman at Federal Shipbuilding Company in Kearney, New Jersey. The description of him was tall, medium build with gray eyes and brown and gray hair.

Demaree returned to Chicago. In the 1920 census he resided at 1096 Pratt Blvd. He made his living as a commercial artist. Collier’s, August 3, 1929, published Demaree’s illustrated article, “Bumping the Umps”. An excerpt from Demaree’s account about “baseball daisies” was printed in Breaking Into Baseball: Women and the National Pastime (2005).

Ten years later, the census said Demaree was a newspaper cartoonist who lived in the same neighborhood. Demaree, his wife and mother resided in an apartment building at 1140 Pratt Blvd.

The Lawrence Daily Journal-World (Kansas) carried Demaree’s sports column in 1930 and 1931. The column covered baseball, bowling, boxing and golf.

American Newspaper Comics said writer Paul Fogarty and Demaree produced Rube Appleberry beginning August 3, 1936.

Demaree illustrated Edwina Guilfoil’s Major 1st Events in a Century of Base Ball which was published in 1939 by Charles E. Line.

Rainier Valley (2012) shows a card from Demaree’s 89-card set of Pacific Coast League players.

Demaree has not yet been found in the 1940 census. He signed his World War II draft card on April 27, 1942. His residence was the Niagara Hotel in Peoria, Illinois. Demaree’s employer was the Peoria Star.

The California, Death Index said Demaree passed away April 30, 1962, in Los Angeles. He was buried at Harbor Lawn-Mount Olive Memorial Park.

—Alex Jay


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Wednesday, July 29, 2015


Obscurity of the Day: Rube Appleberry

In baseball lore there's no shortage of tales about the corn-fed plowboy who appears out of nowhere at a big league tryout, pitching 100-mph curveballs and hitting balls out of the park like birdshot from a shotgun. Among the earliest and most famous is Ring Lardner's novel You Know Me Al. The 1916 story was immensely popular, and begat a string of imitators that has still yet to cease.

In the newspaper comic strip realm, Lardner's novel itself was adapted as a daily strip that lasted almost four years, despite being hobbled by the semi-pro artwork of Dick Dorgan. Other strips plied the same trade, though, and today we look at one called Rube Appleberry.

The story of this phenomenal baseball player started not on the newspaper comics page, but on radio. In a WGN series initially titled Big Leaguers and Bushers that hit the air in 1932, Rube took the baseball world by storm in stories mainly written by Paul Fogarty. The radio series is pretty well forgotten today, and apparently no recordings are available of the episodes, but seems to have enjoyed some popularity back then. One aspect of the program that may have helped garner fan interest is that the names of real major league clubs and players were freely used. Despite Rube Appleberry generally besting all the major league stars that were named, apparently the real players had a distinct fondness for the program, and sometimes appeared on the show playing themselves.

The problem with baseball radio shows (and comic strips) is that once the baseball season is over, what do you do? The standard solution is to have the hero turn out to be a superstar in ALL sports. Once the baseball season is over, your leading man becomes a champion quarterback, then a great point guard, then a superb goalie, etc. etc. until, thankfully, baseball season finally rolls around again.

Big Leaguers and Bushers followed that formula, and that was probably its eventual undoing. Fans can get over their disbelief that someone could be the ultimate player in one sport, but in every one? Come on now. The series left the air in 1935 after its third season.

Fogarty, though, wasn't content to give up on the character and somehow hooked up with Al Demaree, veteran of several different baseball strips, to provide art for a newspaper comic strip. Demaree had begun his comic strip career, believe it or not, while he was himself pitching in the major leagues. His major league career spanned 1912-19, and he left baseball with a more than respectable 2.77 lifetime ERA. Though Demaree was no Rembrandt of the comics page, his cartooning was perfectly fine, and his name in the masthead of a baseball strip certainly gave fans a respect for the strip right from the get-go.

The John F. Dille Company syndicate took on the strip, but had little luck selling it. That could be because the theme was already considered too hackneyed, and frankly it was. The strip debuted on August 3 1936 and seems to have had its final strikeout as of June 19 1937. Dille always numbered their strips so late-comers could start at any time, so for those keeping score, the ending number was #276.

It may seem odd that the strip was tagged out in the middle of the baseball season, when readers would be most interested in it, but the answer seems to lie in extenuating circumstances. According to one newspaper that commented on the end of the strip, creator Paul Fogarty had fallen ill and could not continue to produce it. I don't buy that, though. The real reason seems to be that Fogarty convinced WGN to give the radio show another chance. The show returned at the end of August 1937, but didn't last long. And that, then, was finally the end of Rube Appleberry's extra innings.

For more about Rube Appleberry, check out this history of the radio show, and read Alex Jay's Ink-Slinger Profile of Al Demaree coming up tomorrow here.


Pete Rose would enjoy the second strip where Rube admits to betting on a baseball game.
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Tuesday, July 28, 2015


News of Yore 1926: Walter Wellman's Career Traced


Walter Wellman's Wit

by Martha Conway

reprinted from Cartoons & Collegian Fun, June 1926

Walter Wellman was born in Dublin -- in Dublin, New Hampshire, May 25, 1879. Had it been Dublin, Ireland, things would probably have shaped up differently, for he would have become a policeman, or a politician. As it was, he became a cartoonist -- but we're getting ahead of our story. Passing over the earlier years, he entered Murdock High School, Winchendon, Mass., in 1896, and graduated at the head of his class in 1898. He then entered Massachusetts Institute of Technology, choosing the course in architecture.

During the four-year course at M.I.T., Wellman became the art editor of the weekly college publication, The Tech, and held that position for the last two years of his course. As art editor of this publication, he designed the special covers, and furnished most of the matter for the rest of the magazine. He also contributed to the annual publication of the college.

It was during the course in architecture in Boston that he met and became acquainted with one of the editors of The Boston Globe. Through this connection, he began producing picture puzzles for The Globe, and these were the first drawings actually sold by him. On graduating from Tech in 1902, as a full-fledged architect, it was natural to suppose that he would start designing such structures as the Woolworth building, but no! That editorial position on The Tech and the work for The Boston Globe had shown him a more congenial field. Life class was a part of the training at Tech, and that also stimulated the desire to draw pictures for a living.

During the summer of 1902, he started shooting comic "pitchers" to Life and Judge and Puck. Life, Judge and Puck reciprocated, and shot 'em right back. Finally, in desperation, he wrote to a school of caricature in New York and mailed some of his work. The reply was surprising. It advised that the work was salable, and urged Mr. Wellman to come right on. Packing a bottle of India ink and a pair of pajamas and a little cash, Wellman started for the big town. At the end of three weeks, he still had the pajamas.

Shortly afterward he landed his first work, and was soon contributing, as a free lance artist, to most of the daily papers published at that time. He was soon contributing a daily comic strip to The World, and Sunday pages to the colored comic sections of The Boston Globe and The Boston Herald. At about that time he also connected with The International Syndicate, and has been selling them his work regularly ever since.

In 1905 Walter took an office in the World building, New York, and started designing comic postcards for the larger publishers, and soon started publishing his own designs as postcards. At that time the demand for comic postcards was very large, and many editions of cards ran to several millions. During this time, he kept on with his newspaper and magazine work. When the bottom fell out of the postcard business, he again gave his entire attention to cartooning.

After spending about ten years in New York, he built a home in Montvale, N.J., and has been there ever since. During the last several years, he has probably designed many comic greeting cards, and most of the largest publishers of greeting cards look to him for new material every year. During the last year he has added a line of stock cuts of his own designs, and the business in this line is growing month by month. The stock cuts are being used by house organs, plant publications, advertising agencies, printers and in direct mail material all over the country and in Canada. Competition in the stock cut game is very keen, however, and one must have exceptional cuts to get away with it. Mr. Wellman's line now consists of hundreds of snappy little cuts.

Wellman states that, at the time he started in the comic game, women actually wore clothes, and it was comparatively easy to draw the flapper of 1899. His study of anatomy came in very handy, he says, when the ladies started to discard. He has followed the flapper through many evolutions, and has always tried to keep he just a little ahead of herself all during that time. It has now reached the point, however, where he has got to let her catch up before he dares to go ahead.

Walter seldom visits the big city now, as his work is practically all done through correspondence, and his kept so busy that it is next to impossible to get away. Over his two-car garage, he built a studio last year, and now does all his work there. He also handles his stock cut business from this office. He is married and has a bull terrier and a cat, and is living the life of Reilly in the hills of northern New Jersey. He has consistently refused to tie himself down to a cartoonist's job, preferring to free lance, and be his own boss.


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Monday, July 27, 2015


Obscurity of the Day: Chubby's Diary

Some cartooning fans make fun of William Gordon "Jack" Farr's cartooning abilities. I've never been one of them, perhaps because I've been exposed to so much truly bad newspaper cartooning that to me Farr's workmanlike drawing looks pretty darn fine. And make no mistake, Farr was a workman at cartooning. His immense productivity in the 1910s bespeaks a guy who needed to put the meals on the table every night. He'd work for anyone if there was the hint of a paycheck.

Unfortunately, Farr was about to hit on hard times at the time his Chubby's Diary strips were running in the Sunday New York Herald, from April 4 to October 24 1920. This was his last work for a major New York newspaper, and hereafter his output was relegated to hole-in-the-wall outfits that sold and resold the same comic strips for years to penny-pinching newspaper clients.

Thanks to Cole Johnson for the samples.


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Saturday, July 25, 2015


Herriman Saturday

Sunday, October 4, 1908 --Maurice Sayers and Johnny Murphy are set to duke it out at Jeffries Arena on the 6th. Both were rather lackluster lightweights; Murphy died of TB three years after this bout.

Also another cartoon about Bill Desmond's 'trip around the world'.


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Friday, July 24, 2015


Sci-Friday starring Connie

Connie, December 25 1938
courtesy of Cole Johnson


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Thursday, July 23, 2015


Obscurities of the Day: Spot-Light Sketches and Meanderings of Minnie

Edwina Dumm made her lasting mark on the world of newspaper strips with Cap Stubbs and Tippie, a feature that ran for an incredible forty-nine years (or fifty or even sixty years according to some accounts, but I can't find it running any longer than 1918-66).

Before her big break on the national scene she worked for the Columbus Monitor, a weekly newspaper that debuted in 1915, with Dumm lending a dose of graphic excitement right from the start on August 28 of that year. She began by producing a full page for each weekly issue, titled Spot-Light Sketches. Since Dumm was the only cartoonist in the paper at the time, she decided to fill every possible role; the page included editorial cartoons, social cartoons, single-panel gag cartoons, and comic strips. As a sad commentary on the times, Dumm originally didn't take credit for the impressive page, signing it "By Monitor", accompanied by a 'self-portrait' sketch of a male cartoonist! I guess this was not the era in which a woman cartoonist felt completely comfortable taking credit for her work, unless it involved romance, cute kids and/or cherubs.

What would eventually become the comic strip Meanderings of Minnie began as a panel cartoon of that title the first two weeks. It was then renamed What Bothers Minnie for five weeks. On October 16 the title reverted to Meanderings of Minnie and the panel cartoon morphed into a full-fledged comic strip.

On December 4, having produced the page for over three months, evidently Dumm felt she had proven herself as a competent cartoonist, wrong gender or not, and "By Monitor" was dropped in favor of her name.

On February 19 1916 the newspaper did a revamp, and the various cartoons of Spot-Light Sketches were now distributed throughout the weekly issues, putting an effective end to the feature. Meanderings of Minnie continued as a standalone. Then in July, the Monitor decided to go to a daily schedule, and Spot-Light Sketches was resurrected for their new Sunday edition. However, the Sunday edition only lasted a mere two weeks before it was deemed a sales failure, and the Monitor contented itself with a 6-days per week schedule from then on.For some reason, Dumm consigned not only Spot-Light Sketches to file 13, but also Meanderings of Minnie, ending both features with the issue of July 23. One could easily make the assumption that Dumm didn't feel up to a daily schedule, but this was certainly not true, as she was reportedly a remarkably fast artist. Dumm left the paper at this point, but returned for a short stint in 1917 right before the Monitor went belly-up. 

Thanks to the late Cole Johnson for the sample.


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Wednesday, July 22, 2015


News of Yore 1926: Bill Holman, Pre-Smokey Stover

Bill Holman Spills the Beans about Himself

Originally printed in Cartoons & Collegian Fun, June 1926

When the editor of "Cartoons" asked me for an account of myself since I started in the cartoon game, you can bet I had to stop and think before grabbing a pencil.

Getting down to brass thumb tacks, Indiana is the state of my birth and where I spent my boyhood days  -- which I can truly say were real ones. Somewhere around my fourteenth birthday the folks decided for no reason at all that Chicago was the place for us to live, so then we moved -- and at that time the cartoon bug hit me. I'll probably never recover. Advancing to my third year in high school and, at the same time attending the academy of fine arts I broke into the art department of the Chicago Tribune in the capacity of office boy -- which looked like a much bigger job to me than that of managing editor.

This opportunity came through a tip from Quin Hall, my teacher at the academy, who was then sports cartoonist at the Chicago Daily News, and who has recently joined the King Feature Syndicate in New York City.

My job as office boy was a short one for I took advantage of every opportunity and less than a year later really surprised myself when I sold my first full page idea to a nationally-known magazine, then published in Chicago. I lost no time in parading this before Bill Wisner, my boss, and art manager, -- and was again surprised when I was called on the green carpet and not fired but given a job on the art staff, where I remained for the next two years illustrating comic stories, assisting Frank King on Gasoline Alley, and everything else pertaining to the work in an art department. Unable to land a feature on that paper at that time, I continued to mail my drawings to various other syndicates and newspapers with the result that I connected with the Newspaper Enterprise Association.

During my several years as one of their comic artists, I drew a number of features, the most original and popular being a strip called Billville Birds., which received quite a run. However, it was handicapped by the fact that the human angle was missing -- which is essential to put a thing over nowadays. Up to this time everything was running smooth except for my being gently eased out because of various fights over ideas that didn't end in a draw.

Having a little ready cash on hand, I packed my ink pen and pencil, along with three features I had worked up and several mornings later woke up in the world's largest city, generally referred to as New York. It was several days before I got my bearings  -- and when I did, I set out to see the Woolworth building. While roaming around in that section I dropped in on several syndicates in Park Row, where I met and had quite a talk with the N.Y. Tribune Syndicate manager -- joining this organization a month later, drawing Junior, a daily feature that in the past three years has steadily climbed and enabled me to work with such men as Briggs, Voight, Winsor McKay (sic), Ted Brown, Ding, McBride, and last but not least, Pete the Bootlegger.

My advice to young men with ambitions to become cartoonists is based on my own experience -- and that is to get into any art department where the work is being done, if only as office boy -- draw continually -- always be open to criticism -- try at all times to get your work in print and once you get a feature before the public half the battle is won. I have noticed "Cartoons" has done a lot to encourage amateurs, not only by publishing their work, but by printing interesting pictures, features and articles about those whose work you see daily.

In regard to correspondence schools, I think them a huge asset, as they enable one to learn the fundamentals of comic art -- but as for teaching you to get ideas, they are out of the question, for one must be born with a sense of the comic -- and that can only be developed through hard work.

I am a personal friend of C.N. Landon, of the Landon School; have been through his plant and advise his course.

One of the best books published in years that no one in or out of the cartoon business should miss is "How to Draw Cartoons," written by Clare Briggs of this paper. It should be especially helpful to amateurs.


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Tuesday, July 21, 2015


Obscurity of the Day: The Perishers

After the huge success of British import Andy Capp here in the colonies, American newspaper syndicates started looking at other British strips that might have success over here. The Perishers, which had been running in the Daily Mirror since 1959, was deemed by the Publishers-Hall Syndicate to be worth a try over here. The strip b y writer Maurice Dodd and cartoonist Dennis Collins was rolled out in a small number of U.S. newspapers starting on February 9 1970, and the fallacy of the idea was immediately apparent to readers.The Perishers is a fine strip, but it is so steeped in British culture and language that the strips are often all but incomprehensible to an American audience. Publishers-Hall didn't choose to Americanize the strip in any way, so many strips would have needed extensive footnoting for the typical American to follow it.

A strip like Andy Capp is so visceral that the occasional bit of dialect or a foreign reference does little to impact the function of the strip. A strip about a drunken lout who beat his wife may be a sick premise for a strip, but it is also undeniably simple and understandable. Not so with The Perishers, which has quite a few characters, complex relationships and personalities, and thoughtful gags.All of which is great if you can understand what the heck they're talking about.

Naturally, the strip failed miserably in its U.S. distribution. As best I can tell, it seems to have been removed from syndication on October 3 1970, just eight months after its debut. It's a shame, because the strip had a lot going for it.

According to Editor & Publisher yearbooks, the strip may have had a second go-round in U.S syndication. North America Syndicate advertised the availability of the strip from 1992-98. However, I have yet to find a U.S. paper that ran the strip in that run.


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Monday, July 20, 2015


Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Enos B. Comstock

Enos Benjamin Comstock was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on December 24, 1879, according the the Wisconsin Birth Index at and his World War II draft card.

In the 1880 U.S. Federal Census, Comstock was the youngest of four children born to gardener Henry and Canadian-born Mary. They resided in Greenfield, Wisconsin.

The Milwaukee Journal, November 18, 1945, said:

…In what is now a populous part of Milwaukee’s residential south side, the boy’s home was on a huge celery farm with plenty of farm animals. The deeds to the Comstock homestead go back to 1846. The family was of Connecticut origin, notable among Milwaukee pioneers.…

…Comstock was a South Side high school boy whose prowess on the football field and the track won games and made records for his school. He always insisted that his high school art studies under Miss Alida Goodwin…provided the solid foundation that he relied on all of his life. Since his teacher was a graduate of the school of the Art Institute of Chicago, it was natural for young Comstock to go there after his high school graduation in 1898. After his graduation at Chicago came several years of study in France, Italy and Holland….
The 1900 census and 1905 Wisconsin state census recorded Comstock at Greenfield in his parent’s household. He was a student.

On June 22, 1905, Comstock married Frances C. Bassett in Chicago, Illinois, as recorded in the Cook County, Illinois, Marriage Index at The Journal said they met at school and traveled to Europe. The couple left Milwaukee in 1906 and moved to New York City. A postcard, postmarked August 15, 1907, was sent to Comstock’s wife at 556 West 186th Street in New York City. 

According to the Journal, Comstock “wanted to paint pictures with story telling implications” and found work illustrating for magazines and books. His favorite genre was westerns.

According to the 1910 census, the couple and their son, Henry, resided in Englewood, New Jersey on Lake Street. Comstock’s occupation was illustrator, and Frances’ artist.

Comstock signed his World War I draft card on September 12, 1918. His address was 178 Highwood Avenue in Leonia, New Jersey. The self-employed artist was described as tall, medium build with light brown eyes and black and gray hair. The Comstocks were at the same address in the 1920 census.

The American Art Annual, Volume XVIII (1921), listed Comstock and his wife.

Comstock, Enos B(enjamin), 178 HighWood Ave., Leonia. N. J.
P., I., W.—Born Milwaukee, Dec. 24, 1879. Pupil John H. Vanderpoel, Frederick W. Freer. Author and Illustrator of “Tuck-Me-In Stories,” “When Mother Lets Us Tell Stories,” “Fairy Frolics.” etc. Illustrated “She and Allan,” “When the World Shook,” “The Ancient Allan,” etc.

Comstock, Frances Bassett, 178 Highwood Ave., Leonia, N. J.
P., S., I.—Born Elyria, O., Oct. 16, 1881. Pupil of Gari Melchers, Frederick W. Freer and John Vanderpoel. Member: NYWCC.
Two death notices were published in the New York Times on February 13 and 14, 1922:
Mrs. Frances Bassett Comstock, an artist, wife of Enos B. Comstock, also an artist, died yesterday of pneumonia at her home in Leonia, N. J. She was 41 years old.

Comstock—At her home, 176 Highwood Av., Leonia, N.J., Frances Bassett Comstock, wife of Enos B. Comstock, Sunday, Feb. 12, 1922; survived by her husband and two sons, Henry and Alfred. Funeral services Wednesday, Feb. 15, at 2 P.M., All Saints’ Church, Park Cemetery, Englewood, N.J. Chicago papers please copy.
A History and Genealogy of the Comstock Family in America (1949) said Comstock married Nellie Juline Warner on August 13, 1924.

The 1930 census said the occupations of Comstock and son, Henry, were artists, illustrators and authors. During the 1930s, Comstock illustrated Lena B. Ellingwood’s Cubby Bear which appeared in the periodical, Comfort.

Comstock’s address in the 1940 census and on his World War II draft card was 176 Highwood Avenue, Leonia, New Jersey. He was a self-employed artist whose description was six feet, 190 pounds with hazel eyes and gray hair.

A History and Genealogy of the Comstock Family in America said Comstock passed away March 19, 1945, in Leonia, New Jersey.

—Alex Jay


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Sunday, July 19, 2015


Jim Ivey's Sunday Comics


It seems the older we get the more "end of an eras" we see. Ah, but life goes on and "thanks for the memories."

Craig Zablo

PS - See you soon!
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Saturday, July 18, 2015


Herriman Saturday

Friday, October 2 1908 -- L.A. chief prosecutor Woolwine is looking to topple the mayor. Among his well-founded accusations is that the mayor's police force allows and benefits richly from L.A.'s prostitution, drinking and gambling establishments.


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Friday, July 17, 2015


Sci-Friday starring Connie

Connie, December 18 1938
courtesy of Cole Johnson


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Thursday, July 16, 2015


Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Lena B. Ellingwood

Lena B. Ellingwood was born Lena Bertha Cole in Milan, New Hampshire, on December 1, 1866, according to the New Hampshire Birth Records and the New England Historical & Genealogical Register, 1847–2011, both at Her parents were Lewis Hutchinson Cole and Emily Lydia Phipps.

In the 1870 U.S. Federal Census, Lena was the youngest of three children. Her father was a lumber dealer. The Cole family resided in Portland, Maine.

According to the 1880 census, Lena’s family was part of her maternal grandfather’s household. James M. Phipps was a farmer. Lena’s mother was a seamstress and her father an “agent for moving machine scythe grinder.” They were residents of Milan, New Hampshire.

Historical Notes and Pictures of Milan, New Hampshire, 1771–1971 (1971) said Lena “married Aked D. Ellingwood May 17, 1887, and was co-editor with her husband for a number of years of weekly newspapers at Groveton, Bethel, Morrisville, Vt., and Milan.”

In the 1900 census, Lena and Charles, a job printer, had two daughters, Agnes and Marion. Their home was in Milan.

The Ellingwoods were recorded in the 1910, 1920 and 1930 censuses in Northumberland, New Hampshire on Stratford Road. Lena’s husband was a real estate agent.

According to the Harrison Cady tumblr blog, Lena wrote and Cady drew Cubby Bear for Comfort Magazine starting November 1915 and ending December 1931. At some point, Enos B. Comstock was the artist of Cubby Bear for Comfort Magazine. Lena wrote Cubby Bear for 25 years.

In 1927 a Cubby Bear book was published and illustrated by H. Boylston Dummer. Other story books by Lena include Betty June and Her Friends, Belda in Blunderland and Little Black Pompey.

Historical Notes and Pictures of Milan, New Hampshire said Lena’s work appeared in “Youth’s Companion, Portland Transcript, Social Progress, The Editor, Child Life, Normal Instructor & Primary Plans, Comfort Magazine, Christian Science Monitor, Zion’s Herald, Boston Post, Successful Farming, Farmer’s Wife, and many church school papers.” For The Editor, December 2, 1922, Lena wrote “Writing Stories for Children.”

The Ancestors and Descendants of Asa Freeman Ellingwood and Florilla (Dunham) Ellingwood (1979) said Lena’s husband passed away in 1934.

Lena and daughter, Marion, were found in a number Berlin, New Hampshire city directories. The 1939 and 1941 directories listed them at 253 Main Street. Directories for the years 1948 and 1953 said their address was 168 Madison Avenue.

According to Ancestors and Descendants, Lena passed away in 1964 and was buried in Milan, New Hampshire. An obituary has not been found.

—Alex Jay


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Wednesday, July 15, 2015


Magazine Comics: Cubby Bear

Comfort magazine was one of those really cheaply printed $1-per-year monthly magazines that existed mainly to sell rural housewives alcohol-based cure-alls, and miracle plant seeds to their farmer husbands. For your buck, you got twelve issues worth of badly written fiction, plus columns about anything of interest to the rustics, from female troubles to needlework to animal husbandry.

Apparently from about the late 1910s on, you also got a monthly installment in the charmed life of Cubby Bear, a bear cub who gets involved in little adventures that teach the kiddies all about ethics, the Golden Rule, and how animals don't eat each other but love and cooperate with each other. Well, except worms. Unlike all the other animals in the forest, they can't talk. So it's perfectly okay to eat them.

Originally the Cubby Bear series, which was written by Lena B. Ellingwood,  seems to have been in the form of text story, accompanied by a cartoon by Harrison Cady. Later the feature changed into a comic strip. I don't know when that was, but I have a handful of examples here from 1938-39, and by then the art was by the very good artist Enos B. Comstock.

I don't know when Cubby Bear was retired, and can't even figure out when Comfort magazine expired.

This blog post says that Comfort ran from 1888 to 1942. That's the only thing I can find online, at least.
There was an animated Cubby Bear in the early 30s, produced by Van Beuren Studios:

The animated Cubby apparently owed nothing to the comic strip, aside from a possibly coincidental name. Either the animated cartoon wasn't big enough to catch Comfort's attention, or Comfort wasn't big enough to make a legal issue out of it. It says he was renamed Brownie Bear for 16mm home distribution but appeared on early TV under both names, so there might have been a lawyer's letter at one point.
The VanBuren company, even did a little licensing with Cubby, though it didn't help and he only appeared in cartoons about two years.
The reason he had two names is that When VanBuren went belly up in 1937, all their films became public domain. The home use distributor (Official Films)changed the names and titles of the Van buren films, I guess in a bid to recopyright them, in titles they controlled.
In early television, (Dumont's SMALL FRY CLUB in 1947 to be exact), the old VanBuren cartoons appeared first, and it didn't matter if the prints had the original or recreated titles, they were all PD. The VB package was a staple of inexpensive kid programming for years afterward.
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Tuesday, July 14, 2015


Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Walt Munson

Walter Frederick “Walt” Munson was born in Waterbury, Connecticut, on October 4, 1897. His birthplace was recorded on passenger lists found at, and his birth date is from the Social Security Death Index and U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs Death File.

In the 1900 U.S. Federal Census, Munson was the youngest of four children born to Lewis, a brass finisher, and Anna. In subsequent censuses, Munson’s father’s name was spelled Louis. The family resided in Waterbury at 227 South Main Street.

Manhattan, New York City, at 78 East 119th Street, was the home of the Munson family in the 1910 census. Munson’s father was a laborer at a plumbing house. At some point, the family returned to Connecticut. Information about Munson’s education and art training has not been found.

The 1917 State of Connecticut Military Census said Munson resided in Waterbury at 177 Walnut Street. His description was single, 19 years old, five feet nine inches and 150 pounds. The Department of Veterans Affairs Death File said Munson served in the Navy from August 20, 1917 to July 15, 1919. An account of his service was published in Service Records, Connecticut: Men and Women in the Armed Forces of the United States During World War, 1917-1920.

Munson has not been found in the 1920 census. American Newspaper Comics (2012) said Munson produced the panel, Such Is Life, which ran from October 1, 1923 to March 14, 1936. The panel also appeared in the comic book, Famous Funnies. Such Is Life was also known as Life’s Byways and Time to Crab. Another comic book product was Munson’s Dinky which appeared in Funny Pages. Munson’s sports cartoons appeared in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle.



Munson visited Cuba in 1926 and 1932, and Bermuda in 1928. According to the passenger lists, he lived in West Haven, Connecticut, at 30 Washington Avenue.

In the 1930 census, that was the address of his parent’s residence. Bachelor and cartoonist Munson, his brother, George, his wife and two children were in their parent’s household.

The San Diego Evening Tribune, February 18, 1932, mentioned Munson in the column, “Looking ’Em Over with Skipper Redgap”.

Walt Munson, ex-commissary steward in the navy, is one of the nation’s “big shot” cartoonists. He draws for a national syndicate, and contributes to many national magazines, including Our Navy, the leading publication of the naval service for the past 30 years.
Postcard by Munson published by Tichnor Bros. of Cambridge, MA; image supplied by Evan Schad

Munson was the only child living with his parents in the 1940 census. Their address was unchanged. Munson continued as a freelance cartoonist whose highest level of education was the eighth grade.

Munson passed away January 27, 1975, in New Haven, Connecticut, as recorded in the Connecticut Death Index.

—Alex Jay


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Monday, July 13, 2015


Obscurity of the Day: Such Is Life

Walt Munson, a fixture at the Brooklyn Eagle, created a panel cartoon series in 1923 titled Time to Crab mainly for his employer, but it was also distributed to a small client list of papers by the Register & Tribune Syndicate.

The Register & Tribune Syndicate, based out of the Midwest, found few takers for the panel, which was decidedly urban, not to mention urbane, in nature. Munson delighted in drawing tenement houses, street vendors, tough slum kids -- in short, not the sort of material best sold by a syndicate situated amid the cornfields of Iowa.

In 1928, Munson switched syndicates to the Philadelphia-based Ledger Syndicate, where for syndication purposes, it was retitled Such is Life (the Eagle and some client papers stuck with the original title). The syndicate change might have seemed like a smart move, but Ledger's much better location was offset by their sales force's seeming inability to sell any of their wares to a substantial list of clients. Such is Life's client list did seem to get a little longer, but it still appeared in comparatively few papers.

For readers, this might have been a blessing. Not having to contend with a lowest common denominator approach, Munson's cartoons on occasion comment honestly and unabashedly about society in ways that would have certainly had some editor somewhere up in arms. This became even more noticeable during the Depression, when Munson's New York City (for the city he drew might have been un-named, but it could be no other) was depicted as a pot full of haves and have-nots all stirred together and chafing mightily.

Munson's run on the feature ended on March 14 1936. It was immediately dropped by the Brooklyn Eagle, but was continued in syndication by Bo Brown. Brown was evidently on a one-year contract, because he jumped ship after precisely that interval, his last panel appearing on March 13 1937.

Still not content to let the panel die, Ledger Syndicate go-to guy Kemp Starrett was assigned to the panel. This led to some lovely art on the feature, but it certainly wasn't seen by many folks other than readers of the Philadelphia Evening Ledger. Fourteen months into Starrett's tenure, the Evening Ledger itself dropped the panel on May 14 1938. Although the panel was advertised in E&P in 1939, I find it hard to believe that it was still being produced.

Be that as it may, it wasn't quite dead in those late-1930s years, as Munson's back-stock had been sold off to someone, and was being sold in reprints to minor papers under the title Life's By-Ways.


Funny name, "Time to Crab".
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Saturday, July 11, 2015


Herriman Saturday

Saturday, October 2 1908 -- I think that the vignette on the lower right may be a reference to actor William Desmond, who appeared in many films in the 1910s. In 1908 he was, I gather, a local thespian of some note. What the reference to the trip around the world means, I dunno.We will see more on this subject from Herriman.

The other vignettes are about boxer Jim Barry's bout against Battling Johnson tonight. Barry will win the fight on a TKO.


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Friday, July 10, 2015


Sci-Friday starring Connie

Connie, December 11 1938
courtesy of Cole Johnson


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Thursday, July 09, 2015


Obscurity of the Day: The Kelly Kids

Kahles version
Collier version

Lyman Young version

The Kelly Kids was the last major attempt by World Color Printing to keep their foundering Sunday comic section alive after its heydays in the 1900s and early 1910s. After the truly awful Dem Boys was finally put out of its (or is that our) misery, it was replaced by The Kelly Kids on July 13 1918. You'd think after killing one outright Katzenjammer Kids rip-off, the folks at WCP would try going in a different direction. Well, you might think that, but you'd be wrong. The Kelly Kids was yet another Katzenjammer Kids pastiche, this one with the frightfully original angle of having the family be of Irish descent rather than German.

At least in the move from Dem Boys to The Kelly Kids readers could be heartened that the new strip was at least competently drawn. The strip was penned by old hand Charles Kahles, who was apparently looking to augment the income he received from his main bread-and-butter strip Hairbreadth Harry, which was being syndicated by rival C-grade syndicate McClure.

Kahles never signed The Kelly Kids, but there's no doubt of his distinctively stiff and formal style. Being anonymous on the strip, Kahles evidently saw no great need to put a lot of effort into the proceedings, and about the best you can say for The Kelly Kids during his tenure is that the strip is professionally done, and does the basic job of pulling off standard Katzie-style hijinks.

Kahles remained on the strip for five long years, finally jumping ship after the installment of May 20 1923. He was replaced by the great Nate Collier who, sadly, gave WCP as much effort as he was being paid for, which evidently wasn't much. Although Nate occasionally penned a somewhat funny original strip (see above), usually he stuck to the standard prank-pulling silliness expected of him, seldom even bothering to make the pranks stand up to basic logical scrutiny. What's more, Collier's normally crisp penwork was nowhere to be found on this strip, leading me to wonder if he was subbing out the artwork to an assistant. As this was one of the few times that Collier did a newspaper strip, it is doubly sad that he evidently considered it not worth his while to make it attractive and breezily funny, which are otherwise his hallmarks.Collier left after two and a half years, his last strip appearing on September 4 1925.

Next to take the helm was Lyman Young, later to create the long-running Tim Tyler's Luck, in his earliest known professional newspaper cartooning job. On The Kelly Kids Lyman exhibited a barely professional grasp of humorous cartooning, which he would apparently later cure as much with the liberal use of art assistants as with improvement of his own skills.Young's run on the strip is marked by the addition of a topper strip called Bill and Sue, the tale of a swain and his sweetie in the same vein as George McManus' topper strip Rosie's Beau.

A note about Lyman Young's run on The Kelly Kids. It has been put forth, apparently first by Maurice Horn, and then repeated ad nauseum, that the kids were brother and sister, and that Young's next strip, The Kid Sister, was an offshoot of The Kelly Kids in which the sister was elevated to the starring role. Of course, the Kellys are a pair of brothers, and looking through a stack of Young's Sundays, I find no addition of a sister character. So please folks, let's put that bit of mythology to bed.

What I do find (vaguely) interesting about Young's version of The Kelly Kids is that he wasn't too fond of the standard Katzie prank-pulling. He added a recurring fantasy element (see above for an example) and often elevated the adults to starring roles, sometimes sneaking the kids into the background of just a single panel of their own strip.

Lyman Young stuck with the strip for a year and a half, signing off with the episode of March 6 1927. Next up was a fellow who generally only signed himself 'Ring', and whose full name was George Rohlfing. Rohlfing's style was a pretty close approximation of Lyman Young's, in other words not exactly memorable. His contribution to the strip was to add another occasional topper titled Silent Silas, which occasionally ran in place of Bill and Sue. Rohlfing's tenure was brief, ending after just five months on August 7 1927.

That date is also the last of the original material Kelly Kids. Although the strip would be a part of the World Color Printing comic section until the bitter end in the late 1930s, from then on it would be a mishmash of reprints from each of the four creators.


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Wednesday, July 08, 2015


Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: John Baer

John Miller Baer was born in Blackcreek, Wisconsin, on March 29, 1886. Baer’s full name was on his World War I draft card and his birth information was recorded in the Wisconsin Birth Index at

In the 1900 U.S. Federal Census, Baer was the son of John and Libbie. His father was a store manager. They resided in Appleton, Wisconsin at 443 State Street. Information about Baer’s art training has not been found. The 1905 Wisconsin state census recorded the return of Baer’s older sister, Addie.

According to the Syracuse University Libraries’ profile of Baer, he graduated “from Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin in 1909,…moved to Beach, North Dakota…[and] worked as a civil engineer, a farmer and postmaster and began submitting cartoons and articles to newspapers.” The Bismarck Daily Tribune (North Dakota), January 17, 1914, published Baer’s drawings of several newsman.

Baer has not been found in the 1910 census. The biographical sketch at the Elwyn B. Robinson Department of Special Collections, Chester Fritz Library, University of North Dakota, 
said Baer married Estella G. Kennedy, on December 28, 1910.

Baer, his wife, Della, and son, John, were recorded in the 1915 North Dakota, Territorial and State Census. They lived in Beach. Syracuse University Libraries said he resigned as postmaster in 1916, relocated to Fargo and was the Courier-News cartoonist. Baer entered the race for a Congressional seat in the House of Representatives. An advertisement ran in the Wahpeton Times (North Dakota) July 5, 1917. Baer’s victory was reported in many newspapers including the Bismarck Tribune, July 11, 1917; the Ogden Standard (North Dakota), August 16, 1917; and the Broad Ax (Salt Lake City, Utah) September 8, 1917.

Congressman Baer continued to produce cartoons and drawings. Some appeared in the Tacoma Times (Washington), September 1, 1917. The Inland Printer, December 1917, and Cartoons Magazine, February 1918, reported Baer’s political career.

Around 1918, Congressman Baer signed his World War I draft card. He was a Fargo, North Dakota resident. The description on the card said he was tall and stout with brown eyes and black hair. In 1918 Baer began his reelection campaign with advertising in newspapers such as the Wahpeton Times (Washington), October 17, 1918.

According to the 1920 census, Congressman Baer remained in Fargo with his wife and three sons. The New York Times, July 3, 1920, said Baer lost his re-election bid.

Baer continued cartooning and moved to Washington, D.C. The 1929 city directory listed Baer at 630 Allison N.W. and cartoonist at the Labor Co-operative Educational and Publishing Society.

In the 1930 and 1940 censuses, Baer’s Washington, D.C. address was 1617 Buchanan N.W. He was a newspaper cartoonist.

San Diego Union 5/1/1938

According to American Newspaper Comics, in the late 1930s, Baer drew the panel, Postal Oddities, which was written by James B. Trapp. A 1941 report from the National Federation of Post Office Clerks said: “…I recommend also that this convention adopt a resolution commending Honorable John Baer for his work in production of the Postal Oddities cartoons.”

The 1958 Silver Spring, Maryland city directory listed Baer at 3809 East West Highway. He was a commercial artist at the Labor Co-operative Educational and Publishing Society. The 1960 directory had the same address for Baer who was a cartoonist at the Union Label Trades & Labor Newspaper.

A family tree at said Baer passed away February 18, 1970, in Washington, D.C. He was buried at Gate of Heaven Cemetery.


Further Reading
Comics DC

—Alex Jay


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Tuesday, July 07, 2015


In-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Trapp

Radio Mirror 8/1936

James Blakely Trapp was born in Oklahoma on August 15, 1905, according to the California Death Index at Trapp has not yet been found in the 1910 and 1920 U.S. Federal Censuses. Little is known about the first two decades of his life and education.

The 1930 census recorded Trapp in Wichita, Kansas at 139 North Market Street. He was married but his wife was not home at the time of the enumeration. Trapp was a U.S. Post Office clerk. In the mid-1930s, Trapp created the cartoon panel, Postal Oddities, for the Union Postal Clerk, official magazine of the National Federation of Post Office Clerks. Radio Mirror, August 1936, told how it began:

…Trapp enlisted the services of a friend, Ed McGlynn*, as cartoonist, and sent a sample installment of the Oddities, in cartoon form, to Gilbert E. Hyatt, editor of the Union Postal Clerk, which is the official monthly magazine published by the National Federation of Post Office Clerks. Hyatt published it at once, and asked for more.
The Journal of Electrical Workers and Operators, January 1936, explained how the cartoon spawned the radio version.
Post Office Clerks “Tells the World”
The other publicity feature of the Post Office Clerks’ Federation is a series of radio broadcasts under the title of “Post Oddities by Trapp.” This sets forth, in the fashion of Ripley’s “Believe It or Not,” curious facts concerning the postal service. Starting as a cartoon feature in the Union Postal Clerk, official magazine of the National Federation of Post Office Clerks, it was picked up by a radio station in Wichita, Kansas, as a feature. It made such a hit that its author, J. B. Trapp, a post office clerk in the Wichita office, and a member of the clerks’ federation, has been offered numerous other engagements.
The Richmond Times-Dispatch (Virginia), February 21, 1936, announced the upcoming radio broadcast of Postal Oddities and said the idea began with the strip by “Cartoonist Trapp.” Other newspapers referred to Trapp as the author.

Genesee County Express and Advertiser (Dansville, New York), March 26, 1936, reported the coming of Trapp’s radio program.
Rochester Local No. 215, National Federation of Post Office Clerks, is sponsoring a broadcast through station WHAM of Rochester, which is entitled “Postal Oddities.” Every Saturday morning, from 8:15 to 8:45 o’clock Trapp will tell many stories and experiences in the postal service of interest to all users of Uncle Sam’s big communication business.
In 1937 the Brooklyn Daily Eagle (New York) carried Trapp’s column Postal Oddities. American Newspaper Comics (2012) said Postal Oddites began appearing in newspapers in the late 1930s. The panel was drawn by John M. Baer. A collection of Postal Oddities cartoons were published in a book by National Federation of Post Office Clerks in the mid-1940s. The panel continued into the 1940s.

Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 8/21/1937

San Diego Union 6/19/1938

Schenectady Gazette 11/12/1938

In the 1940 census, Trapp resided in Los Angeles, California, at 3619 West 59th Street. He had an eighth grade education and worked in the information department of the U.S. Post Office. His wife was named Bertha and daughter, Charlotte. Trapp served in the military but the record at did not identify the branch.

Trapp passed away October 5, 1979, in Oakland, California, according to the California and Social Security Death Indexes.

* Edward Patrick McGlynn was born in Cheltenham, Missouri, on January 29, 1889, according to his World War I draft card. In the 1930 and 1940 U.S. Federal Censuses, his occupation was post office clerk. Evidently he was an amateur cartoonist when Postal Oddities appeared in the Union Postal Clerk. McGlynn passed away July 19, 1973 in Wichita, Kansas.

—Alex Jay


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Monday, July 06, 2015


Advertising Strips: Postal Oddities

I've lately heard vague rumblings from Tom Heintjes that lead me to believe that Hogan's Alley #20 is to be published soon. And soon, on the Hogans' Alley schedule, should mean sometime before the next presidential election. Well, good things come to those who wait. And wait. And wait.

When issue #20 of that fantabulous magazine is published, you'll be regaled by, among other lesser material, my article about the many imitators of Robert Ripley's Believe It or Not. My favorite Ripley imitators are the advertising and public service rip-offs, and you'll get a heapin' helpin' of those for sure. And here's one to wet your whistle.

Postal Oddities was a Believe It or Not imitator whose subject was limited to post office-related matters. Why would a newspaper run a feature of such limited interest, you ask? The answer is simple. It was offered free to newspapers by the National Federation of Post Office Clerks. Tougher question is why the N.F.O.P.O.C. (whew!) felt the need to produce and distribute it. The fact is that many organizations considered it good public relations to produce features like this, and they're not at all uncommon to find in newspapers, mostly of the 1930s to 1950s. These freebies were a real boon to small weekly and rural papers, which used these things to flesh out their issues and provide some much needed graphic interest.

Postal Oddities took a strange circuitous route to the newspaper. It began in a post office clerk trade publication, and was then picked up, believe it or not, as a surprisingly popular radio show. After that, the panel was revived and offered to newspapers from 1937 to about 1945 (freebies like these are nearly impossible to assign definitive start and end dates, as they could sit in an editor's slush pile for years).

The panels were copyrighted 1936 throughout, but that copyright seems to refer to the year the radio show was airing, because I have never seen a sample of this feature appearing in papers earlier than 1937. Earlier panels have a long text piece (see top two samples), but later the text content was slashed way back (bottom sample). The panels were also numbered, though most papers routed that out, and my impression is that the numbering doesn't really mean much anyway.

Postal Oddities was produced by writer Trapp (gotta love the graphic by his credit) and cartoonist John Baer. I'll leave their interesting stories to the capable hands of Alex Jay, whose Ink-Slinger Profiles of them will appear in coming days.

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I've read that Ripley made up a lot of his items...wonder if the honorable postal clerks did, too?
For many years, Baer drew a tepid editorial cartoon for a bland monthly union newspaper called Labor. It was anything but a radical paper, at least not in the sixties when I remember it.
It was aimed at a family readership, and Baer's creaky style was the object of derision. Elsewhere a column of jokes, the stock of which hadn't been replenished in decades, had gags featuring ice men and "speed Cops" catching "scorchers" going forty miles an hour.
You'd get it free if you belonged to the union, and worth every cent.
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