Obscurity of the Day: Toyland

Here’s Toyland by lady cartoonist Myrtle Held. This is one of the first daily-style strips ever produced as a special offering for the Christmas season. The closed-end Christmas strip would later become a syndicate staple, with King Features, NEA, AP and others offering one every year.

Toyland ran in the Christmas season in 1913 and 1914. In its home paper, the New York Evening World, the running dates were December 3 1913 to January 28 1914 (obviously they had some leftovers that had to run late), and December 5 to 17 1914.

The above sample is the first strip in the 1913 series, and has a rather un-Christmasy subject, a woman who didn’t wait for her sailor beau to return from sea. This first strip has pretty awkward art, and the gag has nothing to do with the characters being toys, but Held improved quite a bit in her later offerings.

Obscurity of the Day: The Angel Child

Kate Carew was quite the big-time New York celebrity in the first decades of the 20th century. In addition to her cartooning, she did a lot of feature writing for newspapers, and her byline was always displayed prominently (much as today’s sample strip does). The multi-talented Carew specialized in feature stories about celebrities and bigwigs, usually accompanied with Art Nouveau-influenced caricatures.

Carew’s only continuing comic strip series known to me is The Angel Child, though OSU also credits her with a 1903 strip titled Handy Andy which I’ve not seen (anyone have a sample or know where it ran?). The Angel Child was a fairly typical mischievous kid strip, with the minor deviation that the little girl always ended up getting praised for the unintended positive consequences of her pranks. The final panel always had the child being offered a treat by her parents, and our sample strip is particularly interesting because the treat tendered is a can of sardines -yum! No chocolate cake for me, thanks, I’d rather have the salted chum.

The Angel Child had a healthy run in the Sunday comic section of the New York World. The feature ran 4/27/1902 – 2/19/1905.

Here’s an excellent page that has a capsule bio and interview with Carew.