Obscurity of the Day: Closer Than We Think

Futurist illustrator Art Radebaugh was in the waning years of an impressive career when he created Closer Than We Think for the Chicago Tribune-New York News Syndicate. He had been producing advertising art and illustrations featuring his unique visions of the future starting in the mid-1930s. His sleek air-brushed fantasies were used on magazine covers, in automobile ads, even in Coca-Cola marketing.

Closer Than We Think was a Sunday panel that ran from 1/12/1958 through 1/6/1963. Each week Radebaugh would look at some aspect of future life with a few paragraphs of text and a detailed drawing replete with arrows pointing out points of special interest. Radebaugh’s future vision was Jetsons-like, full of floating cars, flying saucers and push-button technological magic.

If only newspaper comic sections could have reproduced airbrush drawings, Radebaugh would have had a huge hit on his hands. The artist’s airbrush work was gorgeous stuff. Unfortunately, due to the limitations of high-speed color presses, Radebaugh was forced to use alternative methods. As a substitute for the airbrush he used stippling and shading techniques to supply a simulation of the depth and startling realism of the drawings he had usually produced for fine coated magazine paper stock.

The shading method was a disaster from the start. The finely drawn details turned to mud on the newspaper page, giving the feature a dark and dingy appearance. For reasons that I can’t guess, he continued using the technique despite the problem. It has to be considered a huge tribute to Radebaugh’s unique vision that the feature lasted even as long as it did.

To enjoy a much more thorough biography of Art Radebaugh, and see an eye-popping sampling of his amazing creations, be sure to visit the Palace of Culture.

Mystery Strips of E&P – “I” Listings

More mystery strips – today is ‘I’ for ‘I dunno’! As always, provide proof that any of these ran in U.S. newspapers and win a great package of comic strip goodies.

I Like You Because – Naida – Dickson Feature Service – daily strip – 1979
I’m Telling You – Proctor Brown, Irwin Kostin – Associated Midwest Newspaper Syndicate – daily panel – 1937
I.D. Clare – W.F. Peters – Publishers Feature Service – weekly panel – 1946-49
Idiosyntrics – R.S. Broughton, Proctor Brown – Associated Midwest Newspaper Syndicate – daily panel – 1937
If I Had My Way – Kern Pederson – Trans World News Service – weekly panel – 1976-78
Igor – Harry Privette – Boston Features – daily strip – 1985-87
Illustrated Crimes – Stookie Allen – Service For Authors – daily/weekly strip – 1933-39
Impressions – Emil Abrahamian – self-syndicated – daily/weekly panel – 1983-94
In Their Own Words – Paul Howle, Don O’Briant – Asterisk Features/United Features – Sunday panel – 1987-present
In The Land Of Midnite Fun – Sarge O’Neill – Southern Cartoon Syndicate – daily panel – 1971
Inane Incidents – S.R. Vic – Better Features – daily panel – 1932
Indian Summer – John Zima – Atlas Features – weekly strip – 1951-59 (found! in Redwood Journal-Press-Dispatch)
Inklings – John Jarvis – Western Newspaper Union – weekly panel – 1949-50 (found! in Lime Springs Herald)
Inky – Hal Borden – Al Smith Service – weekly panel – 1961-65
Inner Circle – Lochlan Field – Watkins Syndicate – weekly strip – 1939
Insight-Out – E.J. Myer – Winford Company – daily – 1971
Intimate Biographies – William Jacobson – Fox Features – weekly strip – 1929-30 (found! in Cincinnati Enquirer)
It Does Happen – Treve Collins – Thompson Service – daily panel – 1931-34
It Has Been Noted That… – Leshod – American International Syndicate – daily panel – 1996-97
It Just So Happened – Kern Pederson – Al Smith Service – weekly panel – 1978
It’s A Cockeyed World – Joe Kaliff – Republic Features – weekly panel – 1948-80
It’s A Fact – Jerry Cahill – Atlas Features – weekly panel – 1948-59 (found! in Redwood Journal-Press-Dispatch)
It’s A Laugh – Rube Weiss – Blackstone Press Features – weekly panel – 1971-76
It’s A Living – Burdette Inch – John M. Meissner – daily panel – 1938
It’s A Tough Life – Ed Hampton – American International Syndicate – daily strip – 1992-95
It’s For You – Nick Frising – Allied Feature Syndicate – daily panel – 1982
It’s Just As True Today – Franklin Van Zelm – Globe Syndicate – daily panel – 1948-50 (found by Bill Mullins in Chester Times and Sheboygan Press – thanks Bill!)
It’s Love – Chuck & Gwen Bowen – Universal Press Syndicate – daily panel – 1972-73 (found in Sacramento Union)
It’s Really Great – Charles Bowen, Barbara Jones – Allied Features – daily panel – 1985
It’s Really A Racket – Cliff Durr, Charles Tepper – Allied Features Syndicate – daily strip – 1938
It’s Your World – Ted Goff, Dan Harris – self-syndicated – daily and Sunday strip – 1985-86

Mystery Strips of E&P – “H” Listings

After a pregnant pause, here’s letter H of the mystery strips. If you can prove that any of these ran in US newspapers (via tearsheets, photocopies of tearsheets or other positive proof) you receive a goodie package full of all sorts of cool comic strip related treasures! All other information that you can pass on about features in the list is also much appreciated.

Hairbreadth Harry – Joseph Petrovich – Ledger Syndicate – daily and Sunday strip – 1967-72
Hal Hepp – Warren Gates – Atlas Features – weekly strip – 1951-59
Half Pints – Mike Gray, Bob Hyde – Nationwide Features – weekly panel – 1949-50 FOUND – Germund von Wowern supplied proof that these were advertising panels, and thus not qualified for Stripper’s Guide listing
Half-Buck – Slim Heilman – McClure Syndicate – daily and Sunday strip – 1951
Halo And His Dog – Bill Wright – Southern Cartoon Syndicate – daily strip – 1971
Hambone – M. Flanagan – Adventure Feature Syndicate – daily and Sunday strip – 1994-97
Hampy – Laurie Campbell – United Cartoonist Syndicate – daily – 1988
Handiboy – uncredited – International Syndicate – weekly panel – 1936-39
Hang-Ups – Betty Runyon – Allied Press International – daily strip – 1980-81
Hannibal – Harry Mace – Consolidated Features – daily strip – 1956-57
Hans Schnupps – Walt Triciak – Bryl Syndicate – daily strip – 1936
Hap Holiday – Phil Martin – Globe Syndicate – daily strip – 1948
Happy Days – Cliff Knight – Matz Features – weekly strip – 1937-38
The Happy Days – Norman Maurer – Crown Features – daily panel and Sunday strip – 1960
Happy Happy – Cosmus – Oceanic Press Service – weekly strip – 1982-92
Happy Hunch – H.L. Kruckman – Graphic Syndicate – daily strip – 1926 (Found! Cole Johnson supplied samples — thanks Cole!)
Happy Returns – Cecile Mills – Mordell Features – daily panel – 1946
Harry Fig – Peter Wallace – United Feature Syndicate – daily and Sunday strip – 1984
Hasty Pudding – Man Martin – Lew Little Enterprises – daily strip – 1992
Hattie – Gertrude Espenschied – Roberts News Service – weekly panel – 1962-67
Have Fun! – Lee Bryan, Rube Weiss – Blackstone Press Features – weekly panel – 1956-76
Hawks Of The Seas – Willis Rensie (Will Eisner) – Eisner-Iger Associates – weekly strip – 1937-40
He’s The Guy – R.N. Palmer – Select Features – daily panel – 1948
Head Set – Dennis Ellefson – Ed Marzola & Associates – daily panel – 1976
Head Of The Family – Robert & Sally Batz – Chicago Tribune-NY News Syndicate – daily panel – 1971
Heads And Tales – Joe Laurie Jr – Press Features – daily panel – 1948
Heart Throbs – Gladys Ripley – Editors Syndicate – daily strip – 1927
Heavenly Days – Jack Bonestell – Wilson Features – daily strip – 1979
Heavy Hannah – John Haslemo – Atlas Features – weekly strip – 1951-59 (found! in Redwood Journal-Press-Dispatch)
Hector Hicks – Lank Leonard – George Matthew Adams Service – daily strip – 1933
Hector The Director – Rama Braggiotti – Ledger Syndicate – daily panel – 1967-73
Helen Homemaker – Gean & Lloyd Birmingham – Columbia Features – Sunday strip – 1968-73
Henry Henpeck – Irv Hagglund – A.S. Curtis Features – daily panel – 1949-61
The Hep Catts – Ray Herman – Allied Features – Sunday strip – 1945
Herd Of Laughter – Terry Willis – Liberty Features – weekly – 1997-98
Here And There – John Rosol – King Features – weekly strip – 1941
Heroglyphics – Don Eaton – Trans World News Service – daily strip – 1978
Hey, Mac – Mike Arens, A.S. Curtis – A.S. Curtis Features – daily and Sunday strtip – 1947-61
Hi And Jinx – Mal Hancock – Davy Associates – daily strip – 1991-97
Hi-Lo – Daloisio – Transworld Feature Syndicate – daily and Sunday strip – 1952-62
Hi-Way Henry – Oscar Hitt – Wheeler-Nicholson – daily panel – 1926
Hick’ry Twigs – Jack Knox – Associated Newspapers – daily strip – 1938
Highlights Of Industry – Arthur E. Jameson – Triton Syndicate – weekly panel – 1936
Hobbs And Hink Adventures, Inc. – Julius King, Kurt Wiese – Metropolitan Newspaper Service – daily strip – 1928
Hold That Deadline – Herb Hunter – Newspaper Promotion Service – daily panel – 1947
Hollywood Hannah – Bob Moore – Nationwide Features – daily panel – 1949-50 [Charles Thompson supplies proof that Nationwide was a producer of advertising strips; not eligible for SG listing]
The Home Front – Pat Miller – Press Alliance – daily panel – 1942
Homefolks – V. Kolarov – American International Syndicate – daily panel – 1996-98
Homer Sapiens – William J. Mikulka – Trans World News Service – daily strip – 1978
Homer’s Groaners – Ed Stanoszek – LA Times Syndicate – daily strip – 1978-79
Honeydew – Henry Gaines Goodman Jr. – self-syndicated – daily panel – 1971-83
The Honeymoon’s Over – Charles Wagner – Humor Books Syndicate – weekly strip – 1995-96
Hoo-Dunnit – Fred Lamb – Columbia Features – daily panel – 1976
Hookup Henry – Tousey – NY Herald-Tribune Syndicate – daily panel – 1925
Hoot ‘n’ Annie – Eli Bauer – Newsday Specials – daily panel – 1965
Horace Scope The Star Gazer – Winn McCourt, William Sullivan – Associated Midwest Newspaper Syndicate – daily strip – 1937-38
Horse Shoe Sam – C.E. Bidinger – National Newspaper Service – daily panel – 1928
Hospital Quips – Rube Weiss – Blackstone Press Features – weekly panel – 1971-76
Hot And Tot – Ray Harris, Charles McGirl – Fred Harman Features – ? – 1934
House Of Hazards – Mac Arthur – Miller Services – weekly strip – 1939-40
How They Made Good – David Fishback – Hopkins Syndicate – daily panel – 1939
How To Be A Supermother – Dick Harris – self-syndicated – weekly panel – 1973-77
How To Do Or Be – George Beatty – Readers Syndicate – daily panel – 1924
Howard Banks – Michael Passannante, Nick Trezza – Global Features – daily and Sunday strip – 1991-93
Hub Caps – Jay Howard – Crown Features – Sunday strip – 1960
Huber And Friends – Frank Cummins – Sun News Features – daily strip – 1960-63
Hubert Henpec – Fantasio – Transworld Feature Syndicate – daily and Sunday strip – 1952-62
Hunchback of Notre Dame – Dick Briefer – Eisner-Iger Associates – weekly strip – 1937-39
Hunk The Dinosaur – Dean Norman – Ecology Cartoon Features – Sunday strip – 1993
Hutch At Random – G.E.Hutchison – Pat Anderson Features – weekly panel – 1970-75

Obscurity of the Day: An Embarrassing Moment

There was a well-known Hearst series titled Embarrassing Moments that ran in the 20s and 30s. Among the luminaries that worked on that series were Billy DeBeck and George Herriman. What few people know is that it was actually a revival of an earlier Hearst series, An Embarrassing Moment. The original series started 3/2/1916 in the New York American, and was a tag team affair by A.C. Fera (better known for Just Boy, aka Elmer) and Fred Locher (Cicero Sapp). The joint effort only lasted a week, and then the series disappeared for five months (though it may have been running in papers outside New York). Locher resumed the series as a solo effort on 8/25/1916, but it was passed off just two months later to Jimmy Swinnerton (who supplies all our samples). Swinnerton produced the strip until July 1917 for the American, though it ran there only sporadically. It seems to have been produced and run in other papers on a more frequent basis.

The second and more famous series started sometime in 1922.

Obscurity of the Day: Kate And Karl

Mary Hays was definitely a relative of the better known distaff cartoonists Margaret Hays and Grace Drayton, possibly a sister though no one is quite certain. Mary seems to have been younger than the other two, and certainly was not nearly as gifted artistically. Her only long-running strip was Kate And Karl, done for the Philadelphia North American. All of the cartooning Hays clan worked at the North American in the first two decades of the 20th century, the others most notably with the long running popular series The Turr’ble Tales of Kaptin Kiddo. Mary definitely was trying to echo the style of Grace Drayton, but her version comes off as flat and lifeless by comparison. Her storytelling ability, too, leaves something to be desired as our sample attests (I had to read it three times before I could even decipher the continuity and the gag).

Kate And Karl ran 9/24/1911 through 11/30/1913, and was later reprinted in the World Color Printing Sunday sections of 1917-18. It’s my understanding that Mary Hays went on to be a well-regarded paper doll designer.

Obscurity of the Day: Chris and Christena’s Courtship

In mid-1912 the Rocky Mountain News ran Chris and Christena’s Courtship as sort of a banner on the front page of their Sunday classified section. I have a run of the strip from July through August, but it may well have run longer.

Notice that this strip is in (limited) color, even though it ran in what is normally a black-and-white section of most papers. The papers of Denver (the Post, the Times, the Republican, the Express, the Rocky Mountain News and perhaps even others) were in a pitched battle for circulation, though, so many of the papers brightened their paper with a liberal use of color. The color extended to the news coverage as well — the Denver papers of the 1900s-1910s are some of the yellowest journals you’ll ever find. If you’re a fan of sensational newspapers like I am, you’ll find nirvana in the pages of these old Colorado papers.

I don’t know whether this strip originated at the News or if it was syndicated from elsewhere. The cartoonist Artigue has a few comic strip credits in Boston and Philadelphia in the 1906-09 period, but I lose track of him after that with this one exception from 1912. Can anyone offer more information on either Artigue or this strip?

Can You Find the Lost Kirby Strips?

As promised a few moons ago on this blog, I have been looking for the list of newspapers given to me by Greg Theakston. These newspapers are supposed to have run Jack Kirby’s ultra-rare material for the Lincoln Features Syndicate. Though we’ve found a few papers now running Lincoln material, most of the more interesting Kirby work (like Socko The Sea Dog, Cyclone Burke and The Black Buccaneer) are still only know from proofs in the collection of Roz Kirby.

Greg Theakston got a short list of papers from Roz that are presumed to have run some of the more obscure Lincoln Features material, and he passed it along to me. I have been unable to obtain any of these newspapers on microfilm. If any of you have access to these papers I beg, chide and admonish you to index the Lincoln material (which starts around 1935):

Nassau Bulletin
Hillsdale Herald
Tripoli (IA) Leader
Cuyahoga Falls (OH) News
Darby (PA) Progress
Clifton (NJ) Leader
Newark (NJ) Issue
Putnam County (NY) News
Irvington (NJ) Herald
Clifton (NJ) Weekly
unnamed paper in Beverly Hills CA
unnamed paper in South Bend and Fort Wayne IN

Cartoonists of the Chicago Daily News

Thanks very, very much to D.D. Degg, who alerted me to a great resource for historic photos from the Chicago Daily News archives at the Library of Congress website! Here, tucked away among all the old news photos, are portraits of some of the Daily News cartoonists. Degg not only found O’Shaughnessy’s full name to be Thomas Augustin “Gus” O’Shaughnessy, but even a picture of our man:

Here’s Charles F. Batchelder. I just knew he’d look like this. Just from his cartoons you could tell that he was obviously the grand old man amongst the comics page crowd right from the beginning. Not only was he amongst the most accomplished of the artists, but he was also usually responsible for the extra large panel cartoon that would often act as the central hub of the comics page:

Here’s Fred Richardson. He actually predates the regular daily comics page in the Daily News. He did a full page Sunday cartoon that began in 1899 (the daily page began in 1900) and ran until 1901. I never saw him contribute to the daily page. He disappeared for 6 long years, then popped back up in 1907, once again getting a special spot for a closed-end strip commemorating something called the Jamestown Exhibit:

Here’s Ted Brown. He was an absolute whirling dervish of the drawing board, producing more material for the daily pages than anyone except the great George Frink. He signed his work simply ‘Ted’:

Here’s Pierre Kinder. He only showed up on the daily page sporadically in 1905-1906. He must have had other regular duties on the Daily News, I guess, and just moonlighted on the comics page every once in awhile. His longest running strip was Burglar Bill. Here he is doing his Dracula impression:

Here’s Richard Thain. He joined the comics page crowd in 1907, and frequently subbed for George Frink on his strips. He also created the long-running Lord Longbow strip:

Here’s Austin Williams. He was a Johnny-come-lately who took over The Inventor from Ted Brown at the tail end of its run in 1917. His only other known credit is Red and Skeeter, which ran for a short while in 1915 on the Saturday kids page:

Now here’s a mystery photo from 1907. The caption just says that these are 5 young Chicago Daily News artists:

And last but not least, here’s a 1904 photo whose caption says these fellows are dressed up as comic strip characters. No doubt about it, the gents are dressed up as Drowsy Duggan and Brainy Bowers, the News’ flagship comic strip characters:

Oddly enough, there are no photos of the great George Frink, who worked at the Daily News for well over a decade, nor of K.E. Garman, another comics page mainstay. Nor, for that matter, photos of some Daily News cartoonists who went on to hit it big elsewhere – R.B. Fuller, Harry Hershfield and H.T. Webster.

All photos above are from the Chicago Daily News negatives collection, courtesy of the Chicago Historical Society.

PS: this post took a lot of time to compile, and I’ve got to get ready for a business trip this week, so I’m not going to post on Sunday. See ya Monday!

O’Shaughnessy of the Daily News

There was a fellow named O’Shaughnessy (hmm, sounds like the opening line of a limerick – let’s start over).

The Chicago Daily News was the first newspaper to have a regular daily comic page that was syndicated to other newspapers, and this fellow O’Shaughnessy was a constant contributor from 1901-1905. He never signed his full name, which isn’t surprising since the News ran their vast daily outpouring of daily comic panels and strips mostly at practically microscopic size to fit everything in. If his first name was half as long as his last he would have had to devote a separate panel to it.

O’Shaughnessy didn’t start his first continuing comic strips until 1902. In 1901 he contributed one-shot comics, as did most of the other contributors. This great example at left is one of his earliest offerings. I really love to find these self-referential strips, they serve as a window into the minds and lives of these obscure early comic strippers. In this strip he seems to be taking a jab at the sophomoric level of humor that many aspiring contributors were trying to get published. Notice on the cartoonist’s ‘masterpiece’ that he has a labelled arrow showing the funny bit. What a hack!

Notice also that the artist’s comic is shown hanging on a wall, not on a drawing board. What’s up with that?