Saturday, May 23, 2015


Herriman Saturday

Friday, September 25 1908 -- As the bond-fixing scandal of the Solid Three grinds on, Herriman dramatically reminds readers to never let such political tampering happen again. Great cartoon, but too bad George doesn't have any definite suggestions on how exactly to accomplish that end.


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Friday, May 22, 2015


Sci-Friday starring Connie

Connie, October 23 1938, courtesy of Cole Johnson. 
Follow the Connie story every Friday here on Stripper's Guide.


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Thursday, May 21, 2015


Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Fred Schwab

Frederick “Fred” Schwab was born in New York, New York, on August 25, 1917. His birth date is from the Social Security Death Index, and other sources confirm the year, such as his military enlistment, a public record at and census records. Sources that have his birth year as 1920 are incorrect. Volume one of Contemporary Graphic Artists (1986) has a excellent profile of Schwab despite the birth year error.

In the 1920 U.S. Federal Census, Schwab was the only child, age two years and four months, of John, a baker, and Josephine. They lived in Manhattan, New York City at 238 East 89th Street. His father was Austrian and his mother Hungarian. Contemporary Graphic Artists had the same names for his parents, and parenthetically noted that his father was a painter.

In the following census the family remained in Manhattan but at a different address, 50 West 93rd Street. Schwab was twelve years old and had a sister, Wilhelmina.

According to Contemporary Graphic Artists, Schwab’s comic book career began in 1936 as a staff artist at Chesler Publishing Company. Walking around midtown Manhattan, approximately nineteen-year-old Schwab saw a sign that read, “cartoonists wanted,” and entered the office. The man asked Schwab what his favorite drawing subject was. When he answered cowboys, a western script was handed to him by Harry “A” Chesler.

The 1940 census recorded Schwab as a cartoonist residing with his parents and sister at 1741 York Avenue in Manhattan. He had four years of high school and, in 1939, earned a thousand dollars working for publications.

In 1938 he left Chesler and freelanced in the comics industry until 1942. On January 6, 1942, Schwab enlisted in the army at Fort Dix, New Jersey. His record said he was single and a commercial artist who had four years of high school. He stood five feet eight inches and weighed 148 pounds. According to Contemporary Graphic Artists, he served in the Air Force from 1942 to 1945, and drew cartoons for the newspaper Yank and posters for the Air Force.

After the war he attended the Art Students League from 1946 to 1947, and returned to freelancing as a comic book artist, cartoonist, and advertising illustrator until 1960. For the next twenty years he was a New York Times staff artist. Then in 1980 he returned to being a freelance cartoonist and advertising artist.

Schwab was the fourth and last artist to draw Lady Luck, from May 5 to November 3, 1946, which was a backup feature in the Spirit comic book insert. He was preceded by Chuck Mazoujian, Nick Cardy and Klaus Nordling.

On April 1, 1956, Schwab married Barbara Frick. Their engagement was reported in the New York Times, February 2, which said he attended New York University. Contemporary Graphic Artists did not mention the university as part of his education.

A 1976 public record at said his birth was August 25, 1917 and address at “411 E 53rd St Apt 15j, New York, NY, 10022-5112.” Essentially the same address was in Contemporary Graphic Artists.

In The Life and Art of Murphy Anderson (2003), Anderson said his memories of Schwab:
Jack Cole and Fred Schwab are two of my favorite artists. Before he got onto Plastic Man, Jack Cole used to work side-by-side with Fred, and Fred said they used to try to top each other with crazy ideas. Who could do the craziest, most far-out stuff. Fred was just marvelous. I wish he could have continued in the direction he was going with his comic book stuff because it was just fantastic. He worked for Harry Chesler on some of the very earliest comics, and he worked for Charlie Biro for awhile and then did filler pages all around the field, two- and three-, four-page stuff. It was sort of an outgrowth of E.C. Segar’s style on Popeye. The characters were just crazy. He did Herlock Sholmes and Doctor Potsam, I remember some of his stuff was so awful. The puns were bad. There was one character that was a walking pun. That was Cowboy Jake of the Bar-Mitzvah Ranch. All the horses would have patches on their rumps.
Fred worked for Will [Eisner], some. He always did some worked for Will. I think he did Lady Luck for a little while, in addition to Klaus Nordling. Nordling did most of it after Nick Viscardi and Chuck Mazoujian were off the thing. But Fred would come in, occasionally, to Will. I never met him then, but I know he kept in touch with Will. Then he dropped out of the comics altogether and took a staff job with The New York Times. He worked in their art department for many, many years.
About his art Schwab said:
…As for cartooning I am self-taught. I rely upon my sense of humor for ideas. I’ve never taken life seriously; I see humor in everything, in life’s errors, absurdities, pretensions, discomforts, embarrassments, as well as in its inherent unpredictability. All these may appear tragic to some, they seem comical to me….
Schwab passed away May 13, 2000, in New York City. A death notice was published in the New York Times, May 28:
Schwab–Fred, 82, of 411 East 53 Street died on May 13, 2000. Mr. Schwab was born educated and resided in New York. He served in World War II as a photo journalist. He was a retired graphic illustrator for the New York Times and a freelance cartoonist. Mr. Schwab was the widower of Barbara Frick and is survived by his niece Rosemarie Sankowsky of Wayland, Massachusetts. A private family service was held last week.
Schwab–Fred. The New York Times records with deep sorrow the passing of Fred Schwab, associated with The Times from 1947 until retiring in 1979.


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Wednesday, May 20, 2015


Obscurity of the Day: The Trials of a Little Mother

Precocious babies have often figured into newspaper comics sections. There's the first comic superstar, the Yellow Kid, of course, and dozens more over the subsequent decades.

Here's an entry titled The Trials of a Little Mother from journeyman ink-slinger Clarence Rigby, which appeared in one of the McClure pre-print comics sections from March 29 to September 6 1903, and was then reprinted occasionally in their sections from 1906 to 1908. Sometimes the strip goes with the obvious sort of gag where the baby causes a catastrophe, but other times Rigby takes the more interesting tack and has the baby save the day, like in the middle example above.

Thanks to Cole Johnson for the scans.


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Tuesday, May 19, 2015


Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Chuck Mazoujian

Charles John “Chuck” Mazoujian was born in New Jersey on August 24, 1917. His full name and birth date are from the Social Security Death Index, and his birthplace was recorded on his World War II army enlistment.

In the 1920 U.S. Federal Census, he was the second of three sons born to John and Rosa, both Armenian emigrants. They lived in West Hoboken, New Jersey at 915 Highpoint Avenue. His father was a photo-engraver.

The next census recorded Mazoujian, his parents and younger brother in West New York, New Jersey at 21 20th Street.

Mazoujian attended Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York. In the school’s yearbook, Prattonia 1939, next to his graduate photograph (above), it said: “Mazoujian, Charles, Pict. Illus., 21 20th St., West New York, N.J….Artsmen Basketball ’36, ’37, ’38, Artsmen Athletic Director ’38, ’39, Prattonia Rep. ’38, ’39.” In 1937, three of his classmates in “Illustration I A” were William Bossert, William King and Roderick Parkinson, all future comic book artists. Mazoujian’s graduating class included John E. Ayman, William Bossert, Lillian Chestney, Charles Nicholas Cuidera, Philip J. Dring, Robert H. Webb and Stanley M. Zuckerberg; all of them would work in the comic book industry to some degree.

Mazoujian was at home with his parents and older brother in the 1940 census.

Who’s Who of American Comic Books 1928–1999 said Mazoujian’s career in comics began at the Eisner and Iger Studio in 1939; the studio was formed in 1936 by Will Eisner and Jerry Iger. When the partnership ended in 1940, Eisner formed his own studio. In an interview in The Art of George Tuska (2005), Eisner said to Dewey Cassell:

...when I left Eisner-Iger, three artists agreed to come with me: Bob Powell, Chuck Mazoujian, and Lou Fine. We opened a studio in Tudor City. And then Nick Viscardi came along, and Dave Berg and Chuck Cuidera.
Cassell: It sounds, at least for those of us looking back on it now, as if that must have been an exciting time to be involved in comics.
Eisner: Well, you know, everybody refers to the period as the Golden Era. For me, it was the Leaden Era. Everybody was working hard. Most of the guys in the shop were working to just make some money so they could go uptown. Chuck Mazoujian was the first guy to leave and he went uptown to become an art director and illustrator and a good painter….Uptown meant going to a major advertising agency….
Before Mazoujian left Eisner, his contribution was Lady Luck which appeared as a backup feature in the Comic Book Section Sunday supplement whose main feature was The Spirit. It debuted June 2, 1940. The Record and Herald News (New Jersey), March 27, 2011 said: “…he created the ‘Lady Luck’ comic originally modeled after his fiancée, then Edna Monson, who wore a stylish green hat.” According to American Newspaper Comics (2012), Mazoujian’s run ended May 11, 1941.

Mazoujian enlisted in the army on January 31, 1941. One year later his engagement to Monson was reported in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, January 29, 1942:

Bay Ridge Girl Fiancee of Cartoon OriginatorMr. and Mrs. Nils Monson of 1034 Bay Ridge Ave. announce the engagement of their daughter, Miss Edna Monson, to First Class Private Charles J. Mazoujian of Regimental Headquarters, 52d Coast Artillery, Fort Hancock, N.J., son of Mr. and Mrs. John Mazoujian of North Bergen, N.J.
Miss Monson studied art at Pratt Institute. Mr. Mazoujian, a graduate of Pratt and, before being called into the service, an assistant instructor in evening art classes at that institution, is the originator of the adventure strip, Lady Luck, and is well known in commercial art circles. He is continuing his art work at Fort Hancock.

While in the service Mazoujian’s art garnered attention. The New York Sun, January 9, 1942, said he was awarded fifth place in “Life in the Service” exhibition sponsored by the Hobby Guild of America and shown at Bloomingdale’s. The Richmond TImes Dispatch, (Virginia), January 23, 1942, said: “Outstanding among the pencil work is that of Private First Class C.J. Mazoujian, stationed at Fort Hancock, N.J. He depicts Army life on maneuvers in several pieces.” Some of those drawings were featured in Life magazine, February 9, 1942. Nine years later, Mazoujian provided two pencil drawings for Life, December 3, 1951, here and here.

After the war, the Record and Herald News said he returned to Pratt Institute to teach painting and figure drawing evening classes. His freelance illustrations appeared in many books. He was an illustrator for the New York advertising agency, Ogilvy and Mather, in the early 1960s. At some point he retired. His wife passed away October 3, 1992. According to telephone directories at, during the 1990s Mazoujian lived at 20 Brook Road in Tenafly, New Jersey. Beginning in 2002, he lived with his son, Craig in Tucson, Arizona, then in 2007 with daughter, Gwen in Sacramento, California.

Mazoujian passed away January 14, 2011, in Sacramento, California. His death was reported March 27 in the Record and Herald News. An overview of his career is here, and his comic book credits are here.


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Monday, May 18, 2015


Obscurity of the Day: The Up-To-Date Uncle Tom's Cabin Company

In 1905, when World Color Printing's boilerplate color comics section was becoming a very popular option for medium-sized newspapers -- those too poor to have color presses or to purchase the higher end products from Pulitzer or Hearst -- a promising newcomer named Nixon came onto the scene. No, no, not that fellow who could find Commies under every bed in America, but a looney-toon of a different stripe who submitted some very wacky comic strips to the growing syndicate.

The Up-To-Date Uncle Tom's Cabin Company follows the harrowing story of a two-bit troupe of actors trying to get from the east coast to San Francisco, where they hope to play a gig. The troupe apparently limits their repertoire to stage adaptations of Harriet Beecher Stowe's classic novel, and so they travel with a black actor to play the title role, and a young girl (maybe a midget?) to play the angelic Little Eva. They haven't a cent to their name, so transportation is by foot, food is as scarce as finding a free meal, and perhaps worst of all, the star of the show does not want to be an actor and is constantly trying to escape.

Mr. Nixon's cartooning and writing skills are certainly in their awkward teenaged years here, but he shows an innate if somewhat primitive genius for the form. I have little doubt that if he had stuck to newspaper cartooning, he would have produced a lot of memorably crazy material in an era when that sort of thing was welcomed in the funnies section.

The Up-To-Date Uncle Tom's Cabin Company ran in the WCP comic sections of February 26 to April 2 1905.

Thanks to our late benefactor Cole Johnson, who supplied the scans.


Another one of those early comics in which the balloons read right to left.
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Sunday, May 17, 2015


Jim Ivey's Sunday Comics


Could not agree MORE!!


Craig Zablo
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Saturday, May 16, 2015


Herriman Saturday

Thursday, September 24 1908 -- Governor Haskell of Oklahoma has been accused by William Randolph Hearst of aiding Standard Oil in it's monopolistic price fixing and anti-competition schemes. Though Herriman here indicates that Haskell is in big trouble, the whole affair seems to have blown over rather quickly, as the incident doesn't seem to have stuck to his reputation. Perhaps that's because Haskell has such an assortment of dislikeable qualities that this one doesn't stand out. 


The caption paraphrases the slogan for Wilson's Whiskey: Wilson's--That's All!
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Friday, May 15, 2015


Sci-Friday starring Connie

Connie, October 16 1938, courtesy of Cole Johnson. 
Follow the Connie story every Friday here on Stripper's Guide.


There was something about they way they drew comics in the old days. Every strip was a piece of art. Of course they had more space to work with.
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Thursday, May 14, 2015


Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Dick Wood (I)

Richard W. “Dick” Wood was born in Bloomington, Illinois in 1868. His birthplace was determined by examining the 1870 U.S. Federal Census. The birth year was recorded in the Missouri Death Records, at, and on his gravestone.

In the 1870 census, Wood was the youngest of four children born to William and Mary. His father was a dry goods merchant. They resided in Bloomington, Illinois. According to the 1880 census, the Wood family gained another child and remained in Bloomington.

Information regarding Wood’s education and art training has not been found.

There are a number of St. Louis city directories, at, that list Wood as a resident and include his occupation or employer. In 1890, Wood was a Globe-Democrat newspaper artist. He was still with the Globe-Democrat in 1893 and resided at 119 South Broadway. At the newspaper, Wood was a friend of Theodore Dreiser, a reporter, and illustrated some of Dreiser’s articles. (Dreiser’s report on a train wreck, with illustrations by Wood, can be read here; scroll down to the heading “Theodore Dreiser—Globe Reporter”.)

The 1899 directory said Wood was a Republic newspaper artist and lived at 3622 Evans Avenue.

Wood has not been found in the 1900 census. Wood illustrated many of the stories he wrote for the Republic: April 1, 1900; June 3, 1900; June 17, 1900; July 22, 1900; August 5, 1900October 21, 1900; and December 2, 1900 (about cartoonists).

According to the 1901 directory, Wood continued as a Republic artist while residing at 4 North 6th Street.

Wood’s art was included in local exhibitions as reported in the Republic on March 29, 1902, October 19, 1902, and November 3, 1902.

In 1903, Wood had moved on to the Chronicle newspaper and was at 4464 West Belle Place. In Fall 1903, Wood traveled to China and wrote about his adventures. The Milwaukee Journal (Wisconsin) published Wood’s reports on November 9December 2 and January 13, 1904.

The Chronicle was Wood’s employer in 1904. He had moved to 3165A Sheridan.

According to American Newspaper Comics (2012), Wood created The Good Old Kid Days, for World Color Printing, which ran from April 17 to May 9, 1906. It was followed by Pinkie Prim, also for World Color Printing, which debuted October 7, 1906.

Los Angeles Herald 4/21/1907

Wood’s last listing was the 1908 directory which said he was an artist and lived in the rear of 4009 Cottage Avenue.

Wood passed away November 17, 1908, in St. Louis. His death was reported in several newspapers including the Mexico Weekly Ledger (Missouri), November 19 and the Iowa State Bystander (Des Moines, Iowa), November 20. He was buried at the family plot in Evergreen Memorial Cemetery, Bloomington, Illinois. Information about his wife, Bonnie, has not been found.

—Alex Jay

(Artist and writer Dick Wood should not be confused with writer Dick Wood who was one of three brothers in the comic book industry and also scripted the Sky Masters of the Space Force comic strip.)


First off: "Dick Wood"?! Tee hee hee heee!

(While we're at it: Harry Peter? Dick Sprang? Good thing none of these cartoonist ever went by the name of "Cock Shaft", huh?)
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Wednesday, May 13, 2015


Obscurity of the Day: Mr. Clown Sr. and Master Clown Jr.

Here's a series loosely called Mr. Clown Sr. and Master Clown Jr, by that amazingly odd cartoonist Eddie Eksergian. This is a particularly unfunny series, even by Eddie Eks standards. I can't even tell which character is supposed to be which, not that it would help the gags along anyway. Thankfully these couple of pages aren't a complete loss for the Eddie Eks aficionado, as the masthead on the top example is vintage Eks -- "Wow! Big Type". Now that is the sort of meta-weirdness that makes our boy's work worth perusing.

The strip appeared in the St. Louis Star from August 17 1902 to January 4 1903, and then one last time on February 1 1903, this time signed by one G.V.H. rather than Eddie Eks. Who that might be I haven't a clue, but it's hard to imagine someone wanting to filch a series title from Eddie Eks, so he probably had some screws loose himself.

Thanks to Cole Johnson for the scans.


I can't imagine that even in 1902 this was amusing! It's ugly and baffling...
Always great to see more of Eddie Eksergian's work. Lavish paintings by his father and uncle sometimes show up in online auctions.
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Tuesday, May 12, 2015


Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Doc Bird Finch

Doc Bird Finch was born Frank Jay Finch in Corunna, Dekalb County, Indiana, on February 6, 1879. His birth information is from Indiana, Select Marriages, 1780-1992 at

In the 1880 U.S. Federal Census, Finch was the youngest of two children born to James and Ella (Helen). His father was a “dealer in stock”. They resided in Richland Township, Indiana. The 1940 census said Finch’s highest level of education was the eight grade.

According to Dekalb County 1837–1987 (DeKalb Sesquicentennial, 1987), Finch attended “Valparaiso where he studied art over his parents objections. He also attended the Art Institute and Academy of Art in Chicago.”

The 1900 census recorded Finch in his parents’ household in Richland Township. His occupation was cartoonist. Dekalb County said he began his newspaper career in Terre Haute, Indiana on the Gazette. Finch worked next at the News in the Dayton, Ohio, then the News-Press in St. Joseph, Missouri.

While at the News-Press, the Inland Printer, May 1905, published Finch’s report on the mascot convention. The cartoonists included Brett Griswold, P.A. Plaschke, W.P. Bradford, C.K. Berryman, R.D. Handy, E.A. Bushnell and Ryan Walker.

At, the Indiana, Select Marriages, 1780-1992, recorded Finch’s marriage to Leora Keene on June 27, 1905.

Finch moved on to the Denver Rocky Mountain News, where he created The Troubles of Forgetful Joseph. According to American Newspaper Comics, it debuted October 11, 1906.

Dekalb County said Finch started at the Denver Post in 1908. Denver city directories for 1908 and 1909 list Finch’s address as 1160 Downing and occupation as Denver Post artist. The same address was recorded in the 1910 census. Finch’s occupation was newspaper cartoonist and his son, Joseph, was three years old.

Finch told the story of the bird, who appears with his signature, in the Denver Post, October 23, 1908:

…Little Doc was born in St. Joseph, Mo., Oct. 23, 1903. It was while drawing a cartoon one day condemning a statue which had graced or disgraced a small park in that good old city for fifteen years or more….
One day while drawing a cartoon roasting the statue there happened to be a corner of it which took up a lot of “hungry canvas” as the old profs. say in art school—meaning there was too much space going to waste. So I ran a small stream from the foot of the statue and had a queer looking bird drinking out of this stream and remarking that ”it was the hottest ice water he ever tasted.”
It was a foolish-looking bird and the office boy roasted me to a turn and said “he could draw a better one.”
So that is the birthplace of “Little Doc,” at the foot of this bum statue. Not a very noble birthplace when it might have been at the feet of Teddy Roosevelt to smiling up at Bill Bryan of Taft or even sitting on the bald head of John D.
The next day I placed the same bird in the cartoon just to jolly the office boy.
The society editor saw it and she thought it was the “cutest thing.” The society editor being unmarried I ran it the next day to please her. The business manager saw it and told me to use it in all of my cartoons.
One day a fellow inquired if the “thing” was a take off on my name.
“Why?” I asked.
“Isn’t it a bull finch?”
“Sure,” I replied, and have stuck to it ever since.
After coming to Denver it discovered an uncle living here by the name of Doc Bird and is seen with him every Sunday.

On December 24, 1910, Denver Post cartoonist Fay King wrote: “‘Doc Bird,’ whose real name is Frank Finch, is a blue-eyed little feller, that sees something funny in everything. Everybody loves ‘little Doc.’ He can reel off more cartoons a minute than any other cartoonist I have ever known.” The following day, Finch reported on Victor Gillam’s visit to Denver where Gillam drew some of the local officials. Then the cartoonists drew each other.

Dekalb County said Finch was at the Kansas City Post, in Kansas City, Missouri, from 1912 to 1915. According to Thunder in the Rockies: The Incredible Denver Post (1976), F. G. Bonfils and H. H. Tammen, owners of the Denver Post, bought the Kansas City Post.
…Charles A. Bonfils, F. G.’s personable and mild-mannered younger brother, was named managing editor but it was obvious Bon and Tam would be making policy. Otto Floto, who had developed a considerable reputation as a boxing writer, was dispatched to run the sports pages. Charles Bonfils’ wife, Winifred Black, and cartoonist Doc Bird Finch headed a list of staff stars who would shuttle between Denver and Kansas City.
The Insurance Field, July 30, 1915, mentioned Finch: “Only one blotter has been issued so far-one in which ‘Doc Bird’ Finch, former cartoonist for the ‘Kansas City Post’ portrays ‘Ed’ and ‘Frank’— otherwise Mr. Grant himself and Frank S. Lipscomb, special agent of the Continental….”

Finch returned to the Denver Post and stayed to 1931.

On September 12, 1918, Finch signed his World War I draft card. His address was 1158 Ogden in Denver. He was a cartoonist for the Denver Post. His description was short and slender with blue eyes and light-colored hair. Finch’s address was the same in the 1920 census.

American Newspaper Comics said Finch produced full-page Sunday panels throughout the 1920s into 1930.

Finch resided in Columbia Heights, Colorado at 5701 West 35th Avenue, as recorded in the 1930 census. Finch appeared in a Daisy Air Rifle advertisement in Boys’ Life, May 1930. According to Dekalb County, Finch retired in 1931.

Finch also produced cartoons for advertising. The Early Bird ran from January 19 to February 23, 1933. American Newspaper Comics said the strip ran in conjunction with a full-page of merchant ads.

A 1935 Denver city directory said Finch lived at 5907 West 35th Avenue, and had a cartoon service.

The 1940 census said Finch and his wife lived with her mother, Alice Keene, in Elkhart, Indiana at 1316 Willowdale. The same address was found on his World War II draft card and 1942 city directory. Finch’s occupation was landscape gardener. The 1945 directory listed “hustler” as his occupation.

Dekalb County said: “He came out of retirement and went to work during WWII at Adams and Westlake Co. While there he drew as a hobby, posters and cartoons for the plant. There attracted wide attention.”

Finch passed away September 1, 1950, in Elkhart, Indiana. Dekalb County said: “He had been ill with cancer for 3 years and his larynx had been removed….During his career as a cartoonist, Frank worked with such names as Damon Runyon, Gene Fowler, George Creel and Courtney Riley Cooper….” The Kansas City Star reported his death September 3.

Elkhart, Ind., Sept. 2. (AP)—Frank J. Finch, 71 years old, for many years a cartoonist for the Denver Post over the signature “Doc Bird Finch,” died last night in his home here. He also had worked for the old Terre Haute, Ind., Gazette; the Dayton, O., News; the St. Joseph, Mo., News-Press; the Denver Rocky Mountain News and the Kansas City Post from 1912 to 1915. Finch retired in 1931, but worked in an Elkhart war plant during World War II.

—Alex Jay 


Gene Fowler mentions Doc Finch and Runyon in his superb memoirs A SOLO IN TOM-TOMS and SKYLINE. TIMBER LINE is a must-read on Bonfils and Tammen, a real-life FRONT PAGE of a book.
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Monday, May 11, 2015


Lost Comic Strip Plays?

A fortuitous "Do You Remember When..." filler article in my local paper alerted me to a play, apparently written in 1928, that stars a long list of comic strip characters. The article from The (Leesburg) Daily Commercial stated:

"The Zander-Gump Wedding", a comic strip comedy, was performed in Groveland High School's auditorium in October 1930. The cast included L.D. Edge as Walt, H.E. Kurfiss as Barney Google and H.E. Kurfiss as Flapper Fannie.
 Subsequent checking online did not, as I might have hoped, turn up a copy of the play, but I did get a cast list, and it is enormous. Here are just some of the comic strip characters appearing in the play:

Ella Cinders, Rinky Dink Club, Jiggs, Maggie, Walt Wallet, Skeezix, Rachel (Walt's maid), Mutt, Jeff, Tom Carr, Mary Gold, Flapper Fanny, Freckles, Barney Google, Major Hoople, Hairbreadth Harry, Tillie The Toiler, Little Orphan Annie, Chester Gump, Katzenjammer Kids, Henrietta Zander, Min Gump, Uncle Bim, Andy Gump

It seems like this is a play written specifically for high school drama classes; the long cast list offers roles to a whole class of kids. The play is apparently quite short, only 19 pages in written form, so it must be quite the whirlwind of a plot. It was written by Mamie Harris Mobley

A written copy of the play seems to be present in a few libraries, but unfortunately none around me. I'm guessing the play may have also appeared in a high school drama textbook of the day, but I cannot find any reference. If anyone is in the area of the Library of Congress, the University of Georgia, Brown University or Marquette University, they do have copies according to Worldcat. Anyone care to volunteer to make photocopies to share?

This got me to thinking about all the comic strip-based plays and revues that were traveling the country back in the 1900s and 1910s. I have seen lots of ads for Mutt and Jeff and Bringing Up Father productions that circulated, and many others as well. What ever happened to the scripts for these productions, I wonder?

I believe there were stage productions of Little Nemo in Slumberland, as well.
Famously, "Lil' Abner" had a major Broadway production, I believe in the late 40s or early 50s. Stubby Kaye may have been in the cast.
Don't know, but doubt the Mutt & Jeff and Bringing Up Father shows were "real" in the sense of being produced for Broadway-type audiences. Suspect they were conceived as touring entertainments, substituting a comic strip for expensive stars.

In the 70s and 80s there were shows featuring Bugs Bunny, Super Friends, Muppet Babies, etc. -- basically ice shows without ice, populated by mainly by costumed characters. "Disney on Parade" was one of the bigger ones. Hanna Barbara had a lavish revue touring Australia, which turned up here as a TV special. These seem to be the direct descendants of the Mutt & Jeff shows.

Today they've evolved into big arena shows, varying in scale and quality but still dependent on TV and movie properties which have replaced comic strips in mass culture.

There were some "legit" comic-based shows, such as the aforementioned "L'il Abner" and an operetta version of "Little Nemo." Was there any theatrical interest in comics between "Abner" and 1960s (Superman, Peanuts, Annie)?
I looked for Bringing Up Father in Ireland as well and found that it was a production that returned every year with 'the best stunts and laughs' of the strip's previous year and was created by McManus himself. So there must be more than one script (one article mentions ten years) and possibly in the effects of McManus.
I have seen references to stage plays or radio plays of Roger Bean, Tumbleweeds, and I think Abe Martin as well.
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Sunday, May 10, 2015


Jim Ivey's Sunday Comics


What! No Zablo?


Craig "da Z" Zablo
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Saturday, May 09, 2015


Herriman Saturday

Wednesday, September 23 1908 -- Though Teddy Roosevelt has sworn not to run for president again, Herriman very properly portrays him as the ringmaster of the 1908 Republican campaign. Soon-to-be President Taft and his VP candidate, James Sherman, and Republican National Committee head Frank Hitchcock were definitely putting on a campaign that was orchestrated in response to Teddy's whip cracks from the sidelines.


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Friday, May 08, 2015


Sci-Friday starring Connie

Connie, October 9 1938, courtesy of Cole Johnson. 
Follow the Connie story every Friday here on Stripper's Guide.

This is the final sci-fi Connie story we have available from Cole Johnson. If anyone out there can contribute scans of another complete Connie story (later than 3/26/1939), or can offer another sci-fi strip to take its place on Sci-Fridays, I'd be delighted and grateful to hear from you! Note that we elitists at Stripper's Guide do not generally use digital microfilm material here on Stripper's Guide, so we would need sharp 300-600 dpi scans from newspaper tearsheets or syndicate proofs. 


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Thursday, May 07, 2015


Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: W. H. D. Koerner

William Henry David Koerner was born in Lunden, Schleswig-Holstein, Prussia, on November 19, 1878, according to Something About the Author (1981). His full name appeared on his World War I draft card. The Harper’s Blog said Koerner was born Wilhelm Heinrich Dethlef Körner.

The Art Digest, August 15 or September 1, 1938, explained how Koerner emigrated to the U.S. and began his art career.

Koerner, who was later to record some of the most vital chapters in the growth of America, was German-horn. Honorably discharged from the Franco-Prussian war, decorated by Kaiser William I, but with six sons gone, the father sailed for the United States in 1880 with his seventh son, W. H. D. Koerner II, then two years old, his daughter Menna and his wife Anna. Penniless, they settled in Clinton, Iowa, where the son not long afterwards began his art.
At seven, young Koerner was sketching along the Mississippi. House paint was often his medium. Later, to earn money for art school, he painted cow’s heads on milk wagons and taught art in the local schools. Encouraged by his father, he went to Chicago, where after first working on the Chicago Tribune, he entered the Art Academy of Chicago. His first day in school he met Lillian Mary Lusk, helped her sketch with a hand already professional, and a year later married her.
According to Something About the Author, in 1898 Koerner enrolled in a local art school. Koerner said John M. Stich “taught me to see things, to remember what I saw, and to draw well, and to have a photographic mind.” In the Autumn of 1898, Koerner relocated to Chicago and was hired on the art staff of the Chicago Tribune.

Koerner has not yet been found in the 1900 U.S. Federal Census. Something About the Author said Koerner studied at the Chicago Art Institute in 1901. The following year he was assistant art editor at the Tribune.

American Newspaper Comics (2012) said Koerner produced two comic strips for the Tribune. Heard Among the Girls ran from February 2 and March 2, 1902. Considered to be the first super-hero, Hugo Hercules began September 7, 1902 and ended January 11, 1903.

At, the Michigan Marriage Records recorded Koerner’s marriage to Lillian M. Lusk on June 24, 1903 in Battle Creek, Michigan. In the Saturday Evening Post, August 22, 1925, Koerner explained what happened.

“…Went to art school one morning to study art; saw a girl instead of the model, drew the girl, stopped studying art to study the girl, drew a proposal. She accepted and my ‘model’ sweetheart became my ‘model’ wife…”
In the W.H.D. Koerner Studio Collection, 1884–1938, at the Harold McCracken Research Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, is Koerner’s wedding announcement and one envelope with the notation: “Stayed at Palmer House Chicago—June 24, 1903; June 25, took train for Clinton, Iowa to spend honeymoon at Mother Koerners.”

In 1903 Koerner was the art editor of the home magazine, Pilgrim. He illustrations appeared on the covers and the interiors. Koerner resigned in December 1904. In October 1905, Koerner moved to New York City and enrolled in the Art Students League. His freelance work included advertising art for Grape-Nuts, Postum and Post Toasties.

Art Digest said “Koerner completed his training with George Bridgman at the Art Students League….” Something About the Author said Koerner was accepted, in Fall 1907, at Howard Pyle’s school of art in Wilmington, Delaware. Two years later, Koerner joined the Artist’s colony Naaman’s-on-Delaware near Claymont, Delaware.

The 1910 census recorded Koerner and Lillian in New Castle County, Delaware on Philadelphia Pike. In the household were Koerner’s three magazine artist partners and former Pyle students: Herbert Moore, Percy Van Emen Ivory and Edwin R. Shrader. (A copy of the October 1, 1909 agreement “to rent between Herbert Moore, E. Roscoe Shrader, Koerner, and P.V.E. Ivory, as renters, and C.W. Robinson, as agent” is in the W.H.D. Koerner Studio Collection.)

In 1911, Koerner moved to Wilmington, where his daughter, Ruth, and son, William III, were born. Schoonover Studios Ltd. said “The Koerners’ next move was to 1502 Van Buren Street in Wilmington, and Koerner rented a studio at 1008 Franklin Street next to Anton O. Fischer, for several years, before using the studio adjacent to Frank Schoonover’s at 1616 Rodney.” Koerner continued contributing to magazines and books.

Interlaken, New Jersey was Koerner’s home in 1917. The address on his World War I draft card was 86 Grasmere Avenue. The description said Koerner was tall, medium build with blue eyes and gray hair.
Koerner has not yet been found in the 1920 census. Something About the Author said Koerner made the first of several trips to the West beginning May 1924. The National Museum of American Illustration said “From 1922 onwards, Koerner illustrated more than 250 stories with Western themes and painted over 600 pictures for periodicals.”

In the 1930 census, Koerner remained in Interlaken but at a new address, 209 Grasmere Avenue. Something About the Author said Koerner suffered from arthritis. According to Schoonover Studios, “Koerner spent the last three years of his life as a bedridden invalid, unable to paint.” Koerner passed away August 11, 1938, at his home in Interlaken. Several newspapers published the Associated Press obituary stating, incorrectly, that Koerner was born in Clinton, Iowa.

—Alex Jay



Judith of the Plains by Marie Manning
Harper, 1903

The Girl and the Deal by Karl Edwin Harriman
George W. Jackobs & Company, 1905

Jingles of a Jester by Charles Trumbull Grilley
Pearson Brothers, 1907

The Lackawannas at Moosehead or the Young Leather Stockings by George Selwyn Kimball
Ball Publishing Company, 1907

Keeping Up with Lizzie by Irving Bacheller
Harper & Brothers, 1911

The Voice by Margaret Deland
Harper & Brothers, 1912

Mrs. Red Pepper by Grace S. Richmond
Doubleday, Page & Company, 1913

The Way Home by Basil King
Harper and Brothers, 1913

The Last Christian by George Kibbe Turner
Hearst’s International Library Co., 1914

Around Old Chester by Margaret Deland
Harper, 1915
between pages 120 and 121
between pages 156 and 157

Gerald Delacey’s Daughter by Anna Theresa Sadlier
Kennedy & Co., 1916

The Leopard Woman by Stewart Edward White
Doubleday, Page & Company, 1916

A King in Babylon by Burton E. Stevenson
Small, Maynard & Company, 1917

The Luck of the Irish by Harold MacGrath
Harper, 1917

The Peace of Roaring River by George Van Schaick
Small Maynard & Co., 1918

Stories of Today by William Patten
P. F. Collier & Son, 1918

Boston Blackie by Jack Boyle
H. K. Fly Co., 1919

The Desert of Wheat by Zane Grey
Harper & Brothers, 1919

White Man by George Agnew Chamberlain
Bobbs-Merrill Company, 1919

Meet Mr. Stegg by Kennett Harris
Holt, 1920

The Moreton Mystery by Elizabeth Dejeans
Bobbs-Merrill Company, 1920

The Ramblin’ Kid by Earl Wayland Bowman
Bobbs-Merrill Company, 1920

The Pagan Madonna by Harold MacGrath
Doubleday, 1921

Stepsons of Light by Eugene Manlove Rhodes
Houghton, 1921

The Canyon of the Fools by Richard Matthews Hallett
Harper, 1922

The Covered Wagon by Emerson Hough
D. Appleton & Co., 1922

Flowing Gold by Rex Beach
Harper, 1922

The Prairie Child by Arthur Stringer
Bobbs-Merrill Company, 1922

North of 36 by Emerson Hough
D. Appleton and Company, 1923

Tumbleweeds by Hal G. Evarts
Little, Brown, and Company, 1923

The Proud Old Name by C. E. Scoggins
Bobbs-Merrill, 1925

The Ship of Souls by Emerson Hough
D. Appleton & Co., 1925

Wild Geese by Martha Ostenso
Dodd, 1925

The Chinese Parrot by Earl Derr Biggers
Bobbs-Merrill, 1926

The Silver Forest by Ben Ames Williams
Dutton, 1926

The Painted Stallion by Hal G. Evarts
Little, Brown, 1926

The Number One Boy by John Taintor Foote
D. Appleton & Co., 1926

Lost Ecstasy by Mary Roberts Rinehart
George H. Doran Co., 1927

The Life of Colonel David Crockett, An Autobiography by D. Crockett
A.L. Burt & Co., 1928

For Brigade by 
Hal G. Evarts
Little, Brown, 1928

Tomahawk Rights by Hal G. Evarts
Little, Brown, 1929

A Lady Quite Lost by Arthur Stringer
Bobbs-Merrill, 1931

Sunset Pass by Zane Grey
Harper, 1931

Shortgrass by Hal G. Evarts
Little, Brown, 1932

The Drift Fence by Zane Grey
Harper, 1933

The Trusty Knaves by Eugene Manlove Rhodes
Houghton, 1933

Ranchero by Stewart Edward White
Doubleday, 1933

Beyond the Desert by Eugene Manlove Rhodes
Houghton, 1934

The Proud Sheriff by Eugene Manlove Rhodes
Houghton, 1935

Pampa Joe by C. E. Scoggins
Appleton-Century, 1936

The FictionMags Index

The Pilgrim, August 1903

The Pilgrim, June 1904
Louisiana Purchase Exposition illustration by W.H.D. Koerner

The Pilgrim, July 1904
cover design of butterflies

The Pilgrim, September 1904
double page painting, The First Monday in September, 1850

The Pilgrim, December 1904
Two studies of childhood

The Pilgrim, February 1905
cover design

The Pilgrim, June 1905
The Girl and the Deal

The Home Magazine, October 1906
The Wire Cutters by Grace McGowan Cooke

Harper’s Magazine
October 1910
Keeping Up with Lizzie by Irving Bacheller

Harper’s Magazine, February 1911
The Chaperon by Alta Brunt Sembower

Harper’s Magazine, September 1911
Journey’s End by Emery Pottle

Popular Magazine, September 15, 1911
Cover: The Amateur Fisherman

Harper’s Weekly, July 13, 1912
The Red King by Jane Anderson

Harper’s Magazine, September 1912
The Balking of Christopher by Mary E. Wilkins Freeman

The Times Dispatch
(Richmond, Virginia)
December 12, 1912
Like Another Wise Man by Leo Crane

Harper’s Magazine, February 1913
Memory Plays Us Tricks by William Gilmore Beymer

The Ladies’ Home Journal, February 1913
The Country Doctor by Grace S. Richmond

Harper’s Magazine, August 1913
On the Installment by Corra Harris

Harper’s Magazine, October 1913
Frontispiece and A Homespun Wizardry by Alice Brown

Harper’s Magazine, April 1914
The Confidential Doll Insurance Company by Vale Downie

Collier’s, May 2, 1914
The Lynching of the Night Marshal by C. Hilton-Turvey

Sunday Literary Magazine, May 1914
Wind in the Night by Charles G.D. Roberts

Sunday Literary Magazine, July 1914
The Other Wise Man by Leo Crane

Scribner’s Magazine, October 1914
Pseudonymous by Gordon Hall Gerould

Harper’s Magazine, November 1914
A Homey Sacrifice by Harriet Prescott Spofford

The International Studio, December 1916
Landscape by W.H.D. Koerner

Good Housekeeping, January 1917
In a Strange Land by William Johnston

Good Housekeeping, March 1917
For Value Received by William Johnston

Harper’s Magazine, March 1917
The Smaller Craft by Mary Esther Mitchell

McClure’s, ? 1917
A King in Babylon by Burton E. Stevenson

McClure’s, May 1918
The Third Generation by Marie Manning

McClure’s, July 1918
Behind the Door by Gouverneur Morris

McClure’s, September 1918
To-morrow I Fly! by W.B. Trites

McClure’s, October 1918
Caught on a German Raider, Part I by F. G. Trayes

Harper’s Magazine, April 1918
Beloved Husband by Susan Glaspell

McClure’s, November 1918
Caught on a German Raider, Part II by F. G. Trayes

McClure’s, December 1918
Caught on a German Raider, Part III by F. G. Trayes

Woman’s Home Companion, January 1919
White Man by George Agnew Chamberlain

The American Magazine, August 1919
The Bag of Black Diamonds by Herman Howard Matteson

The Saturday Evening Post, August 30, 1919
Old King Baltimore by L.B. Yates

Harper’s Magazine, January 1920
Both Judge and Jury by Wilbur Daniel Steele
He saw the blacks starting down the savanna
A white man was bearing a black woman on his back

Cosmopolitan, April 1921
Priscilla Bags a big One by Royal Brown

The Saturday Evening Post, April 2, 1921
Wild Earth by Sophie Kerr

Cosmopolitan, October 1921
Friends of the Greyhound by R.G. Kirk

Harper’s Magazine, October 1921
The Halfway House by Mary Heaton Vorse
Your trail isn’t far from here. I’ll take you to it.
She handed the child to David, and her lips formed some word

Harper’s Magazine, September 1922
Out of the Air by Lee Foster Hartman
My fingers held to the mechanical round of the frantic message

Harper’s Magazine, November 1922
Twilight of the God by Mary Heaton Vorse
Santos walked up the street in growing anger

The Saturday Evening Post, August 22, 1925
Who’s Who—and Why (photos and autobiographical sketch of W. H. D. Koerner)

The American Magazine, February 1927
The Heir at Law by Melville Davisson Post

The American Magazine, June 1927
The Leading Case by Melville Davisson Post


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Wednesday, May 06, 2015


Obscurity of the Day: Bliss

It pains me to say it, but witty intelligent writing is by no means a guarantee of success in the world of newspaper comic strips. Case in point is Stephen Hersh's comic strip Bliss, which  was syndicated by Universal Press Syndicate from November 18 1996 to January 1 2000. Hersh's strip about a young married couple is sharply and unapologetically intelligent, featuring witty banter the likes of which you'd expect in a Preston Sturges film, not rubbing shoulders with Heathcliff and Snuffy Smith on the comics page of a newspaper.

As you can see above, the art was frankly a major liability, and it would be easy to blame the strip's lack of success on that. However, Stephen Hersh later teamed up with cartoonist extraordinaire Nina Paley on The Hots. That strip had the same sort of characters and the same superb level of writing, except substituting wonderful art for Hersh's unsophisticated doodles. That strip managed to crash and burn even faster than Bliss!

Maybe newspaper readers just aren't looking for this particular sort of content in their morning paper. Intelligent writing in a strip might just pass muster if it is spoken by swamp critters, or bulbous headed little kids, but maybe the sort of writing seen in Bliss, spoken by real-seeming adult people, is just a little too much reality with that first cup of coffee.


Yeah, THE FUNNY TIMES still runs old strips of THE HOTS in their monthly paper. The characters DO look similar to the earlier BLISS incarnation, though I think Paley glamourized the wife a bit.
You can go back to find them at

See also
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