Obscurity of the Day: The Adventures of Bill

The prolific Jay Jackson was one of the finest cartoonists to work in the black press. Unfortunately the short-lived Adventures of Bill doesn’t show him at anywhere near his best, probably because Jackson really loved drawing beautiful women and they were mostly absent from this storyline.

The weekly strip ran in the Chicago Defender from March 17 to September 29 1934. Bill’s adventures, which swung widely between light-hearted material as in our sample, and earnest drama, usually revolved around boxing, and were pretty derivative of Joe Palooka.

Jackson’s wife Mabel is believed to have done a lot of the writing on his features, but this strip was one of the few in which she was granted credit.

News of Yore: Jailbird Turns Cartoonist

Sunday ‘Herman’ Strip For Nov. 2 Release
(E&P, 1952)

Clyde Lamb, who parlayed a 25-year sentence at the Indiana State Penitentiary into a success­ful career as a syndicated car­toonist, enters the Sunday field Nov. 2 with a one-third page full-color version of his “Herman” strip. The pantomime gag feature is distributed by the Register and Tribune Syndicate.

Mr. Lamb started the daily “Herman” strip three years ago, after his release from prison. He had begun drawing gag cartoons while serving time. The syndicate reports he is now “a highly re­spected citizen in his community, just as ‘Herman’ is a highly re­spected character on the pages of newspapers.”

A Carl Ed Treasure

Courtesy of Rob Stolzer today we have a Carl Ed presentation piece (at least I think it’s a presentation piece). Ed, which is pronounced “eed” by the way, was the creator of the long-running Harold Teen strip. At some point he did this delightful piece, now in Stolzer’s collection, showing the various strips he’d done.

At far left we have the strip Ben, which Ed calls here Big Ben for reasons unknown. It was a
strip for which I could not, until seeing this piece, determine the syndicate. Thanks to this art
I now know that it was another of those forays that World Color Printing made into the daily arena. It ran from 1911-1914, and Ed was only one of three cartoonists to sign it at various times. Ed was not the first to work on the strip; that minor distinction is held by a fellow who signed his work Herrmann. I’ve never been able to determine his first name.

Luke McGlook is another WCP daily, one that I have only seen in reprint runs in the 20s and 30s (WCP was always trying to resell old material). When not signed by Carl Ed, the sig on this one was “Budsee”.

The Tener Alley Gang is a new one on me, not surprising considering that I have yet to be able to get my hands on microfilm for the Chicago Evening American. I wonder if these were characters from a strip or might they have been the icons from sports cartoons? Anybody know more about these kids?

Best of all in my eyes is the caricature of this R.S. Grable fellow. He was apparently the syndicate manager at World Color Printing. If anyone knows more about him, or if there are relatives lurking about, I would be absolutely thrilled to hear from them.

Many thanks to Rob Stolzer for allowing me to share this delightful and informative piece!

Obscurity of the Day: Friendly Fido

Here from the pen of Thomas O’Shaughnessy we have Friendly Fido. O’Shaughnessy, utterly forgotten today, was one of the brightest spots on the Chicago Daily News‘ daily comics page. His spidery pen line might make it tempting to pass him over as yet another William F. Marriner copycat, but his style was much more elegant and sophisticated. The Daily News printed their strips very small, which makes it all the more impressive that he could do such delicate work which nevertheless reproduced well when shrunk by his paper.

Friendy Fido, which was sometimes known as Faithful Fido, began on December 14 1903 and ran sporadically until June 7 1905. All of O’Shaughnessy’s various Daily News features ended in 1905, and this impressive cartoonist was never heard from again, at least as far as I can tell.

An Obscurity & A Contest

George McManus had a brother named Charles, who, while not nearly as talented as his famed brother, apparently liked the comic strip limelight.

Charles, probably with a lot of corporate arm-twisting from his big bro, had a series of four different daily strips syndicated, more than a lot of certified masters ever did. The last of Charles’ strips was this one called Tiny. Like all of Charles’ strips, it gave the distinct impression of being a series of cutout model sheet images. I have always imagined that Charles would prepare for his next assignment by getting his brother to draw a stock company of characters in an exhaustive set of poses. Then, after a trip to the printer to make a big stack of copies, and a trip to the bookstore to pick up a cheap joke book, Charles was ready once again to take the national stage.

Tiny seems to have run from about March 1927 until August 1928.

The Contest
Charles was about as adept at gag-writing as he was with cartooning, that is to say nix on both. I’ve removed the punchlines, both straight out of Joe Miller’s joke book, from two of the three strips above. First person to give me the correct punchlines on both gets their choice of one of the following three prizes:

1. The By George book offered as a prize in the last contest, which was won but not claimed.

2. A set of 3 Wallace & Gromit videotapes, the three shorts that made Aardman Studio famous.

3. A set of 9 Ren & Stimpy videotapes, those demented cartoons from the sick mind of John Krikfalusi.

I offer the two latter options since my VCR died and I can no longer enjoy these delightful items myself. All three prizes are postpaid if the winner is in the U.S., but if you’re from elsewhere you’d have to pay the shipping.

UPDATE: Contest has been won, and the strips with hy-larious gaglines intact are now show.

Herriman Saturday

Four editorial cartoons this Saturday, originally published October 9 – 12, 1906. Interesting tidbit about the second one is that Herriman seemed to be planning to have a little fellow climbing up Langdon’s back. There’s a vague outline in the cartoon that was never completed — I removed what little there was in the cleaning process. The last cartoon has Herriman giving us a cat, not yet a kat, as the central figure.

Obscurity of the Day: Windy Riley

Ken Kling is middling famous as the creator of Joe And Asbestos, a strip that ran for many years, most of that time only in a few New York papers. The strip, which had started out innocently enough in 1923 as a Barney Google rip-off, eventually turned into a horse-racing tip strip. We’ll get further into that story some other day, though, since today we’ll look at Kling’s second most successful strip, Windy Riley.

Kling ended his first run of Joe and Asbestos in 1926 and didn’t start this new strip until December 12 1927 (the samples above are the first week of the strip). In between he may have taken a detour to the McClure Syndicate to do another run of an earlier strip, Those Folks, but to me the 1926-27 run of that strip looks to be reprints. Sorry, digressing again.

Anyhow, Windy Riley, as the name suggests, was a young gasbag. He was home from college determined to set podunk Scramsburg on its ear. Riley was an inveterate schemer, always on the prowl for a quick buck. When not scheming for dough, Windy was busy wooing his sweetie, the delightfully named Sheila Gree (I’m betting the name was cribbed from a George McManus strip).

As the strip wound down, Windy did finally win the fair maiden and in the waning weeks of the strip the two were married and off to Atlantic City. The strip ended sometime early in 1932, probably late January or February, though you’ll see 1931 cited in the history books. Kling then revived Joe and Asbestos for a second much longer run.

Windy Riley was by no means a great strip, but Kling infused the proceedings with so much joie de vivre that it’s impossible not to like it. If you get a chance to read more of the strip be sure to take it – it’s really a blast.