News of Yore: Short Items from 1952

Today Blogger has a brand new bug that doesn’t allow me to upload pictures properly, so let’s do a text only post. Here’s a group of interesting short news items from various 1952 issues of E&P.

60-Foot ‘Gordo’ Towers Over Arizona State Fair
The biggest comic strip charac­ter in the country this week is undoubtedly “Gordo,” created by Gus Arriola for United Feature Syndicate. The Arizona State Fair, now under way in Phoenix, features a 60-foot high figure of Gordo, along with his compan­ions, Pepito and Senor Dog, to keynote the Mexican motif of this year’s fair.The giant display is constructed of wood, structural steel, plastic and wire, and supported by two telephone poles. Windshield stick­ers and other Gordo items will further promote the strip with fair visitors.

One-Year Strip to Tell Louisiana Purchase Story
By Erwin Knoll
Here’s a strip guaranteed to last for just one year. No peren­nial tenant on your comic pages, this. Just 52 weeks-Jan. 5 to Dec. 31, 1953-and it’s done. No Sunday pages either; just six re­leases weekly, in four-column width.

The strip is called “Louisiana Purchase”-1953 is the 150th an­niversary of that historical event -and is the story of the 14-state region comprising the Louisiana Territory from its early discovery and exploration by Spanish conquistadores to its incorporation into the United States. All authen­tic history, lots of adventure and wrapped up in a humorous draw­ing style.

Creator is John Chase, editorial cartoonist for the New Orleans States and author of the prize-winning narrative history of New Orleans, “Frenchmen, Desire, Good Children.”
The Register and Tribune Syndicate, which will distribute “Louisiana Purchase,” suggests ample promotion opportunities for the strip in connection with schools and patriotic organizations and possible use in contest tie-ins.

Joseph Shuster Creating New Comic Strip
Joseph Shuster, the original art­ist-creator of “Superman,” has de­veloped a new comic strip and is seeking a syndicate outlet, he an­nounced this week. The strip is called “Golly Galoo, the Magic Genie,” and follows science-fiction fantasy lines, Mr. Shuster said. The William Morris entertainment agency has expressed interest in the feature as a tele­vised children’s program.
[anyone know if anything ever came of this? – Allan]

Cartoonist Syndicates Own ‘Our South’ Panels
“Our South,” a weekly two-col­umn cartoon panel, is offered for immediate release by the cartoon­ist, Henry McCarn, 428 Haw­thorne Lane, Charlotte, N. C. The panels will embody a hu­morous approach to the peculiari­ties and customs of the South. Mr. McCarn was formerly a staff artist on the Charlotte News, and has been a free-lance editorial cartoon­ist for the past two years.
[Can anyone supply samples of this feature? I’ve never found any – Allan]

Third-Page Size Started For AP Newsfeatures Comics
Three AP Newsfeatures comics -“Oaky Doaks,” “Scorchy Smith” and “Modest Maidens”-will be available in third-page standard size color format beginning Jan. 4. They have previously been avail­able in tabloid mats, and appear in a tabloid readyprint section.

Artist Loses (1/5/52)
A suit filed by Elmer C. Stoner, formerly artist on Enterprising Feature Syndicate’s “Rick Kane, Space Marshall” strip, to restrain the syndicate from proceeding with the strip under another artist, was turned down by New York State Supreme Court Justice Aurelia December 17.

The artist had contended that his dismissal and the continuation of the strip under another artist were violations of his contract with the syndicate.

Space, Western Strips Launch Johnson Syndicate (2/52)
A cartoonist who be­lieves in doing his own selling is Walter T. Johnson, formerly artist on Enterprising Feature Syndi­cate’s now defunct “Rick Kane” strip. Mr. Johnson has just launched Walter T. Johnson Features, Inc. at 1475 Broadway, New York City. First two features, slated for late March re­lease, are “Captain Johnny Fal­con,” a space adventure strip, and “The Sundown Kid,” a Western. Two other comic strips are planned for release this fall.

Mr. Johnson will draw all four strips, sell, and write the contin­uity for “Johnny Falcon.” The Western strip will be written by William F. Crouse, formerly as­sociated with “Hopalong Cassidy” television productions.
[Does anybody have samples of The Sundown Kid? – Allan]

McNaught Syndicate Offers Auto-Racing Strip
A new comic strip from Mc­Naught Syndicate is “Johnny Comet,” a daily and Sunday ad­venture strip with an auto-racing setting. Plot lines will be based on the life of speedcar driver Peter DePaolo, who is acting as technical consultant on the strip. “Johnny Comet” will stress rac­ing on speedways, safety on highways, and has the backing of safety councils in a number of cities where it is now appearing.

Author of “Johnny Comet” is Earl Baldwin, screenplay and mys­tery writer. Art work is done by Frank Frazetta, 23-year old grad­uate of the Brooklyn Academy of Fine Arts and a comic book illus­trator since the age of 16.

‘Peter Rabbit’ Streamlined
Vincent Fago, who started streamlining Herald Tribune Syndicate’s “Peter Rabbit” strip when he inherited it from Harrison Cady four years ago, this week led the veteran strip into a new story line. Abandoned was the previous “realism” of talking animals in a nature setting. In its place readers found the first in­stallment of a series of phantasy adventures in “Doll Land” and “Backwards Land,” “peopled” by stuffed dolls, galloping alarm clocks and freckled toadstools.

To point up the change, one strip in the Sunday release for Feb. 17 was left in black-and-white, with readers invited to par­ticipate in a coloring contest. Stuffed “Peter Rabbit” dolls were offered as prizes.

Obscurity of the Day: Tiny Tinkles


Though it sounds more like an advertising strip for male enhancement pills, Tiny Tinkles was, in reality, a long-running series that ran on that wonderful Chicago Daily News daily comics page.

Gus O’Shaughnessy originated the strip on July 23 1903. It was a cute idea – take four rhyming words, one per panel, and make a gag out of it. The idea was obviously a favorite in the Daily News’ bullpen because practically everyone who ever sat at a drawing board there took an occasional whack at it. O’Shaughnessy kept it for himself for the first two years, but after that the floodgates opened. From 1905 to the strip’s final appearance on April 24 1911 a parade of cartoonists signed their names to it. Mostly it was done by scribblers whose names are beyond obscure (many deservedly), but the roll call also included Gaar Williams, Harry Hershfield and R.B. Fuller.

Our sample above is from 1903.

Obscurity of the Day: Yankee Rangers



This one is a real oddball. The Yankee Rangers, which gives every impression of being an ongoing adventure strip was, for reasons lost in the mists of history, a closed-end strip slated for a six week run. According to Ron Goulart in The Funnies neither Andriola or the folks at King Features had any recollection of the reason for the creation of the strip.

Andriola at the time was between jobs, having quit from Charlie Chan at McNaught and was in negotiations to start Kerry Drake for Publishers Syndicate. The temp job was a perfect way for him to keep active, but why King offered it to him is a mystery.

The Yankee Rangers were a trio of military men recruited to go on a dangerous mission in the Netherlands. The six-week strip was full of action from end to end, and Andriola’s best Caniff impression made for an eye-catching as well as entertaining strip. At the end of the six week run the Rangers sailed off into the sunset, never to be heard from again.

Of the small number of papers that ran the strip (including the Butler Eagle, my wife’s hometown paper) most started the strip on different dates. The earliest found is the Massilon Independent which started it on December 10 1942 (a Thursday). The intended first release date was more likely to be December 7th, and maybe that’s a clue. Perhaps the strip was originally conceived as a memorial tie-in of some sort with the first anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. If so it certainly went off track since the action is in Europe and doesn’t refer to that event.

Thanks to Cole Johnson for the examples reproduced above.

Obscurity of the Day: Spellbound


With a name like Spellbound, you’d figure this strip must be about a witch or something. Nope. It’s about romance. The heart in the logo is your tip-off. I only have a few samples of this one so I’m not even sure if our star couples were married or just dating.

Brian Barling produced this short-lived Sunday and daily strip for King Features in 1991-92. I don’t have exact start and end dates for it though (anyone?). These days Barling is an editorial cartoonist for the Christian Science Monitor and also produces cartoons about wargaming.

E&P Mystery Strips – “M” Listings

After a loooong layoff in the mystery strip listings, here’s my list for letter M. Rather than rehashing what this list represents I refer you to this post that explains all.

As usual I’m looking for proof that any of these features ran in U.S. newspapers. Proof must be in the form of tearsheets from a newspaper. For the purposes of listing features in the Stripper’s Guide Index documentary proof is needed. If you don’t have any samples you can scan or photocopy for me but do know where a mystery strip ran, please let me know the name of the paper and I’ll try to get hold of the microfilm to verify it.

Don’t forget that if you can supply proof that a title listed below did indeed run you get not just my gratitude (cash value 1/20th of a cent) but also a goodie box of neat comic strip related stuff (vintage tearsheets, reprint books, even original art find their way into these) for your trouble.

MD – James Whatley – Interpress – weekly panel – 1974-82
Modern Oxygen / MO – Marc A. Vargas – American International Syndicate – daily panel – 1993-94
Machamer’s Corner – Gene Machamer – Dickson-Bennett – daily panel – 1981-82
Machine Head – Syder Webb – Copley News – weekly strip – 1987-88
Mad Lewis Mad Caps – Fred Lewis – American International Syndicate – daily strip – 1988-90
Madge the Badge – Al Liederman – Trans World News – daily strip – 1978-79
Maggie McSnoot – uncredited – Ledger Syndicate – daily strip – 1945-50
Malfunction Junction – Mal Hancock – Whitegate Features – daily – 1990-93
Mama’s Boy – Will Gould – Kay Features – daily strip – 1931
A Man Called Horace – Andrew Christine and Roger Kettle – North America Syndicate – daily strip – 1992-98 (British strip)
Man in the Street – Jett Black – Schwartz Cartoon Service – daily strip – 1928
Man’s Wings – John McCormick and J.M. Richardson – King Features – daily strip – 1929-33
Mandy Capp – Carla Ostrer – North America Syndicate – daily strip – 1997-98 (British strip)
Manny From Mars – Fred Treadgold – BP Singer Features – weekly panel – 1963-69
March of Science – John I. Hudson – Science Service – daily panel – 1936-38
Margie – Stanley Metz – Century Features – daily panel – 1937-38
Maria – Griz – Columbian Comics Syndicate – daily and Sunday strip – 1991-96
Marsh Mellows – Len Borozinski – Copley News Service – daily strip – 1977
Marty – Gerald Bennett and Roy Sanchez – R-GAB Features – daily strip – 1978-79
Marvin – Pat Moran – World News Syndicate – daily panel – 1973
Mary Jane (aka Mary Lou) – Stanley Matz – Matz Features – daily strip – 1936-46
Masked Invaders – William Sherb – Jolyon Features – daily strip – 1939
Masked Marvel – Ben Thompson – Watkins Syndicate – weekly strip – 1939
Masked Pilot – uncredited – Beacon Newspaper Service – daily and Sunday strip – 1940
Mata Hari – J.D. McFarland – self-syndicated – daily strip – 1970
Matt Marriott – Tony Weare – Piccadilly Press – daily strip – 1966-68 (British strip)
Maya – John Heine – Publishers-Hall Syndicate – daily panel – 1973
Mayme The Manicurist – uncredited – Chicago Tribune – daily panel – 1930 (found in NY Daily News)
The McNabs – Leonard Bruce – Leoleen-Durck Creations – daily strip – 1983-88
The Meanest Man In The World – Bob Battle – Transworld Features – daily strip – 1956-59
Memoirs of a Housewife – Juli Tarpin – Lew Little Syndicate – Sunday panel – 1965
Memories of a Former Kid – Bob Artley – Extra Newspaper Features – weekly strip – 1986-95
Men From Mars – Stanley Miller – Unique Features – daily panel – 1945
The Merriers – Stan Campbell – Eric Jon Associates – weekly strip – 1958-62
Merry Mixup – Barbara Jones – Allied Features – daily panel – 1970-71
Merry Moments – Eg Margo – Queen Features – weekly panel – 1939
Merry-Go-Round – Jerry Marcus – Roberts News Service – weekly panel – 1962-67
Michael Brand – William Barry – Adventure Features – daily strip – 1975-76
Miffy – Dudley Buxton – Miller Services – daily strip – 1934
Mighty O’Malley – George Merkle/Dean Miller – Chricago Tribune-NY News Syndicate – Sunday strip – 1947-49
Mike O’Kay – Roberts – Wheeler-Nicholson – daily strip – 1926 (found! in Lowell Sun)
Millie – Roger Mahoney and Andrew Pilcher – North America Syndicate – daily strip – 1992-96 (British strip?)
Milly – C. Decker – Lloyd James Williams Co. – daily panel – 1939
Milo – Ronald Boerem – Danny Ball Productions – weekly strip – 1978-79
Mimi – Mary Dorman – National Newspaper Service – daily panel – 1974
Mind’s Eye – Jerome Chamberlain – Trans-World News Service – daily panel – 1976
Mini-Poster – Don Addis – Willow Creek Syndicate – daily panel – 1969
Minit Movies – Irving Phillips – Thompson Service – daily panel – 1933-34
Minstrel Lore – Robert Larsen – Pat Anderson Features – daily panel – 1976
Mr. Cheerio – Milt Lichtenstein – Leeds Features – daily panel – 1933
Moccasin Trails – Mike Roy – Royal Features – daily panel – 1960-61 (alternate title for Hoss Laffs?)
Modern Planes – Les Marshall – Eisner-Iger Associates – weekly panel – 1937-39
Mojoe – Edward Bryant – self-syndicated – weekly – 1991-92
Mom’s Boarding House – Gerald Bennett – Dickson Features – daily panel – 1979
Mona – uncredited – Vaz Diaz International – daily strip – 1954-69
Moonshines – J.D. McFarland – self-syndicated – weekly strip – 1968-69
Morgan Rogers in Days of Queen Elizabeth – A.S. Curtis – Curtis Features – daily strip – 1949-50
Mother Goose – Eleanor Schorer – Columbia Newspaper Service – weekly strip – 1926-27 (do have the 1915 series)
Motorization of Mr. Man – James Henderson – Ullman Features – weekly panel – 1931
The Mountain Ranger – Ralph Matz – self-syndicated – daily strip – 1940
Movie Epochs – R. Dale Armstrong – Fred Harman Features – daily – 1934
Movie Gig – Jim Richardson – Dickson-Bennett – daily strip – 1983-84
Mr. 2 by 4 – Jack O’Brien – Nationwide Features – daily panel – 1949-50 [Charles Thompson supplies proof that Nationwide was a producer of advertising strips; not eligible for SG listing]
Mr. Big – Tim Newlin – self-syndicated – daily and Sunday strip – 1992
Mr. Dilly – Bil Dwyer – Globe Syndicate – daily strip – 1948
Mr. Housewife – Clayton Strohmeyer – Creators Syndicate – daily and Sunday strip – 2002-03
Mr. Magic – Shirley Spillman – Pacific News Service – daily and Sunday panel – 1961-62
Mr. McCivic, Taxpayer – MEB – Eagle Syndicate – daily strip – 1934 (did NOT run in Brooklyn Eagle)
Mr. Sandman – Frank Vydra – National Newspaper Syndicate – daily and Sunday strip – 1970
Mr. Skooch – Charles Saxton – Atlas Features – weekly strip – 1951-59
Mr. and Mrs. Homer – Everrett Lowry – self-syndicated – weekly panel – 1932
Mrs. Weber’s Diary – Posy Simmonds – Feature Associates – weekly strip – 1983 (British strip)
Muldoon – Bob Meyer – Oceanic Press Service – weekly strip – 1983-95
Murfy – Buzz Gambill – self-syndicated – daily panel – 1994-present
Murphy’s Law – Nick Frising – Allied Features – daily panel – 1979-89
Muscle Movies – uncredited – Wheeler-Nicholson – daily panel – 1926
Musings of the Mad – His Mark – Fine Arts Syndicate – weekly strip – 1932
Musk Malone – Larry McNeil – Midwest Syndicate – daily strip – 1946
My Big Brudder – Frank Engli – Eastern Color Printing – weekly strip – 1930-34
My Stars – Ken Bruns – LA Times Syndicate – daily panel – 1976

Herriman Saturday



These cartoons ran on November 13-15 1906. On the 13th we have a caricature of an infamous bookmaker of the day, on the 14th an account of a night of boxing. On the 15th we have a cartoon about Count Boni de Castellane who was going through a sensational divorce at the time. Here’s a site with lots of info on Boni.

The bottom two cartoons were in pretty bad shape; I had to do some pretty major surgery to get them reasonably presentable. Chalk up any bad drawing to me, not ol’ Garge.

Benchley on the Press

An extra special item today; a 1932 essay by Robert Benchley on the state of the American press. A perceptive and thoughtful review from a gifted writer who was, we sometimes forget, a veteran of the fourth estate. This essay originally appeared in an obscure book titled “America as Americans See It” and to my knowledge, after an assiduous search, has not been reprinted since. (For that reason I’m assuming that it is in public domain.) Benchley is one of my favorite writers and I’m proud to present here a work all but lost in the mists of history.

The Newspaper Game
by Robert Benchley

It takes not great perspicacity to detect and to complain of the standardization in American life. So many foreign and domestic commentators have pointed this feature out in exactly the same terms that the comment itself has become standardized and could be turned out by the thousands on little greeting-cards, all from the same type-form: “American life has become too standardized.”

This is a pity, for I would like to have invented the phrase my­self for use in writing of American newspapers. Our Ford cars may be all alike, our horn-rimmed glasses may be all alike, and our musical comedies may be all alike, but they are a motley assortment of variegated odds-and-ends compared with the uni­versal sameness of our newspapers. Which probably explains why our two leading political parties are indistinguishable from each other (Republicans are possibly more blond than Democrats, but, aside from that there is very little difference) and why the most popular newspaper in any given city in the United States is the one which carries the syndicated comic strip “The Gumps.”
.
I am speaking, of course, of the United States as a whole. The newspapers in New York City manage, by dint of rearranging type and using different comic strips, to maintain a show of indi­viduality, although to a blind man who has to have his newspaper read aloud to him, even this would vanish. Then, too, there are exceptional papers, like the New York Times, the Baltimore Sun, the Kansas City Star, the Boston Transcript or the Christian Science Monitor, which through the fostering of old standards or the maintenance of new ones, combined with distinctive make-up or editorial individuality, have managed to make themselves at least distinguishable from the general run of journals on a newspaper-rack. They are not all good newspapers, mind you, but they are at least different.

As a rule, however, a man from Buffalo, New York, who found himself by some unhappy circumstance in Los Angeles, Cali­fornia, could pick up a Los Angeles newspaper and read it through without noticing any difference between it and his home­town paper. There might be a momentary confusion at the dif­ference in typography, but the news would be the same (except the local news which, in a strange city, he would skip anyway), the syndicated features would be the same and the editorials, while possibly not word for word identical, would certainly not throw him off the track by their originality. In some towns they would actually be the same editorials, shipped in matrix form to all newspapers subscribing to the same editorial service.

It is these great news services which feed the journals of the country which are responsible for a large part of this standardiza­tion. The Associated Press, which serves 1,250 papers, has repre­sentatives all over the world, besides practicing the incestuous feat of deriving news from within its own family. For the “A.P.” is something of a club, with limited membership, a non-money-making institution existing solely for the mutual propagation of news among its members and the cooperative gleaning of information throughout the world. It is supposed to be non-partisan, as its membership includes papers of both political parties, but, in times of what its sponsors consider national emergency, it has been known to exercise a certain paternal censorship in the mat­ter of what news shall be sent out over the wire and what shall not.

The most successful rival to the Associated Press is the United Press, a frankly profit-making organization to which any paper may belong, even Associated Press members. Originally de­signed to serve the evening papers, it now goes wherever it is wanted and has acquired a membership equal to that of the “A.P.,” or over 1,200 papers. It is still primarily an evening paper service, however, and, as the evening papers in America are more in the nature of household magazines and cook-books, the “U.P.” dispenses more “human interest” material than its more dignified rival the “A.P.” (Of late, however, the Associated Press has begun to yield to the popular demand for “human interest” and is sending out more and more in a roguish and sentimental vein, a mood which ill becomes it.)

Thus we have the inspiring thought that on the same evening, throughout the broad land of America, readers of 1,200 news­papers are not only reading the same account of the current dis­armament conference, but are in unison devouring the same story concerning the quaint way in which Chinese girls dress when their sisters are married or about the little dog in a French town who swam through the flooded area to rescue its master’s hat. Is it any wonder that America presents a united front to the world in matters of sentiment?

The two other services which carry news to the papers of the country are the International (Hearst) and the Scripps-Howard, both serving only those papers which belong to the chain owned by the distributing firms. This means that the papers in these chains get not only the same news dispatches but the same comic strips, the same recipes for cake, and.the same information con­cerning the care and treatment of the skin. The Scripps-Howard syndicate owns papers in 24 cities, and is the nearest thing to a liberal influence in American newspaperdom (the Socialist or Labor press is practically negligible and consists almost entirely of house-organs seen only by zealots). The Hearst syndicate ex­tends to 18 cities, although in some cities are two Hearst papers, and one is strictly a personal Hearst influence, with Mr. Brisbane acting as spokesman and an occasional front page editorial signed “William Randolph Hearst.” The editorial policy of these papers depends on Mr. Hearst’s current whim and that it is loud but singularly impotent is shown by the fact that Mr. Hearst has never been able to get himself elected to any public offices. [actually Hearst was elected to the House of Representatives – Allan]

These four services, together with those syndicates which are devoted entirely to enlightening the country from coast to coast with stereotyped humorous articles, comic strips, gossip-columns, and sermons for daily spiritual needs, put the finishing touch on the standardization of the American press.

In New York City where, with a few exceptions, the only real newspapers in the country are published, there is still another factor which reduces news-gathering to a mechanical reaping and binding like the preparation of wheat. An organization called the City News Association serves the press of that town with a con­cise and factual account of almost every event of importance taking place within the city walls. A newspaper may send its own reporter out on the story or rewrite the City News account (which comes in over the ticker, like stock-market reports) to suit the individual tone of the journal itself, but, in case the reporter happens to be looking in the other direction when an important event takes place, or if there are no reporters handy to send out on the story, the City News may be relied upon to give the unembellished facts.

It will be seen, therefore, that a paper which is a member of the Associated Press, the United Press, and the City News Asso­ciation really needs no reporters at all. In fact, one of the most famous of New York newspapers, founded by one of the great journalists of our history, was reported, during a low financial period a few years ago, to be existing almost entirely on its news services, with one or two reporters and the re-write men to give it what individuality it had. [I’m guessing the paper he’s referring to is the New York Sun – Allan]

With this great impersonal mass of machine-gathered news coming into a newspaper office, it will be understood why the reporter is becoming less and less important. And this degrada­tion of the reporter is one of the most serious factors in weaken­ing American journalism as a force while strengthening it as a business proposition. There is no class of American professional men of equal intelligence and ability, working every day regu­larly, who are as poorly paid or as badly treated as the news­paper reporters. The result of this is that eighty per cent of them consider their jobs only as stepping stones to opportunities in other lines where the financial remuneration will pay them for their apprenticeship. This attitude of mind on the part of the men who are getting out our newspapers does not make for the fostering of great journalists or the maintenance of an impor­tant journalism.

The sentimental side of newspaper life has been stressed in magazine fiction and reportorial legends until there is a general feeling, even among laymen, that the reporter’s life is a romantic and happy one. The bustle of the City Room, the clatter of the presses, and the smell of the ink, all have been played up in the memories of those once connected with it until “the Newspaper Game” has become something with as many tender associations as the Old Oaken Bucket or the Swanee River. The affectionate term “newspaper game,” however, is heard most often from the lips of those who were formerly engaged in it and who are now working for more money in other fields. There is a great deal of talk about how they wish they were back “in the Old Newspaper Game.” But you will notice that they never go back.

The youngest, or “cub,” reporters are usually just out of school and are looking for “experience.” Possibly the more sentimental have hopes of some day becoming a “star reporter” or maybe a great editor, but for the most part they are young men with an eye for the future in publicity-work, scenario-writing, short-story manufacture, or political “easy money.” The ideal progress for a newspaperman has recently been exemplified in the case of an ex-press-correspondent who became secretary to the President of the United States and then, as the next step up, was offered a job with a motion picture concern at three times his government salary. This is the reporter’s ideal march to a Heaven on Earth.

Occasionally you will find a young reporter who hopes even­tually to be a columnist (with syndicate possibilities which would bring him in almost as much money as he would get in the movies) or even who has. God help him, an ambition to become a dramatic critic. For one of these reasons he is willing to stick to the grind and poverty of newspaper work at the bottom of the ladder. Thus inspired, he tries to attract attention by injecting what is known as “personality” into his style in reporting the drab events of the day. Fortunately, most of this “personality” touch is deleted by the disillusioned editors on the Copy Desk before it reaches the printed page, otherwise our newspapers would be quite unread­able. Too much of it is allowed to get by as it is.

The older reporters, if they have not become “special writers” who sign their own names to their copy (a distinction which is becoming less and less of an honor with its widespread distribu­tion) or who are not on their way to the good newspaperman’s goal – political correspondence in Washington – are more grimly in earnest in their search for “something else.” They have tried short-stories “on the side” and perhaps failed. They have possibly dabbled in theatrical press-agent work and found it a broken reed. They are now rather bitterly hanging onto the jobs they have, with a weather-eye out for those openings which good newspaper­men have so often slipped into: “public relations counsel” for a Wall Street firm or a public-service corporation (a “public rela­tions counsel” is a press-agent who gets more than $15,000 a year), private secretary to some big man in public office, or, if Heaven is good, an offer to go to Hollywood and write for the movies. The chance of becoming a sub-editor on their own paper is not sufficient lure to keep their eyes away from the Great Outside. And why should it be? At best they can make only a small frac­tion of what they might make elsewhere, and even then they would be constantly under that sword of Damocles which hangs over all newspapermen, editors, and reporters alike, the danger of the paper being sold, or merged or discontinued, with a result­ant dismissal of the entire staff with no more notice than one would give the man who comes to shovel snow from the sidewalk. Labor unions among professional men are not considered good form, but if ever a union was needed to protect its workers and to regulate their wages, a union of newspaper-workers is that one.

Of course, there are still reporters – and editors – who have been genuinely caught up by the spell of the work that they are doing and who would not, short of an exceptional offer, do any­thing else. There are also a few reporters who, like the late Mr. Lingle of Chicago, have found a way to eke out their pittance by commercializing their influence to the advantage of certain forces of evil who are willing to pay well for it. Mr. Lingle, how­ever, found that this course of action did not pay in the end, as he was not allowed to live to enjoy the whole harvest of his du­plicity. The general run of newspapermen is made up of honest, disillusioned, and for the most part thwarted writers who have a fine contempt for their bosses and for the public for which they write. [Jake Lingle was a Chicago Tribune reporter who got involved with that city’s gangsters; he was shot down in the street in 1930 – Allan]

This state of affairs has led to an almost complete elimination of competition among news-gatherers. The old-fashioned “scoop,” or exclusive story, is almost non-existent now in a large city, owing to the fact that the reporters are more interested in fair-play to each other than they are in furthering the interests of their respective papers. In the first place, even if a newspaper does secure an exclusive story which appears in its first edition, the other papers have picked it up by the time the late city editions have gone to press and the public knows nothing of any en­terprise or delinquency in any one journal.

The reporters, know­ing this, club together on a story, and, in the event of a riot or a parade or a fire, it is no uncommon sight to see the men from all the papers in the city getting together in a “huddle” before turn­ing in their stories to check up on the statistics of the event, so that all accounts will agree and no one paper will come out with facts which diverge to any startling extent from the rest. A re­porter who holds out on his colleagues and turns in a story with additional facts which he himself has secured, will find himself not only unpopular but unable, when he needs it, to get help from the men he has “scooped.” And anyway, why should he be particu­larly loyal to his own sheet? Is his own sheet loyal in any way to him?

The American newspaper, therefore, comes to us as a machine-made, stereotyped, efficient and, with few exceptions, entirely trustworthy, typographical arrangement of the news of the day. Its features, such as personal columns, comic strips, service de­partments, and sporting pages are its money-making assets, and the American newspaper is naturally out to make money. Its chief political influence on the public mind comes through its political cartoons, for the American public is not much given to reading editorials, and, even if it were, it would find little of distinction to read. The editorial writers of most of our newspapers are men of considerable intelligence, but they, too, have felt the deaden­ing hand of the machine-made newspaper and the stuff that they turn out is, for the most part, colorless and uninspired and con­cerned with general matters such as tonsilitis and snow-removal. There are certain subjects, also, on which a firm editorial stand is taboo, varying, of course, with the individual papers, but when the Pope issued his encyclical on Chaste Marriage only one New York paper (the Times) commented on it editorially, in spite of the fact that it presented a rich vein for controversial writing. Religion is too dangerous a subject for editorial treatment and might affect the circulation.

There is one field of American journalism which might well be made the subject of a whole article-the tabloid, or picture-paper.

The tabloids are, however, not strictly newspapers in the sense that the Times or Herald Tribune are newspapers, as they make no attempt to cover any news which cannot be sensationalized or adapted to the camera’s uses. They are more in the nature of daily magazines, and very low-class magazines at that, and their standards of veracity and journalistic ethics are so low that they have established a class by themselves quite outside the pale of newspaperdom and magazine editing. Their popularity is enor­mous, as a large percentage of the reading public does not read but looks. And if they can buy a sheet every day which will give them something spicy or startling to look at, their contemplation of the world’s affairs is taken care of for the day. Some years ago the Chicago Tribune in an attempt to do something with its mil­lions of dollars which might reduce its income tax to the Gov­ernment, established the Daily News in New York with the frank intention of losing money on it [I’ve never heard this claim before – if it’s true it was a well-kept secret – Allan]. This tabloid, however, refused to lose money and became a veritable gold-mine for the Tribune, for it was exactly what hundreds of thousands of “readers” wanted.

Since then the Graphic and the Mirror have entered the field and have so far outstripped the News in sensationalism (al­though not in circulation) that the News is now comparatively respectable. Other large cities in the country have taken up this form of journalism and the public is now supplied with its full quota of murders, divorces, rapes, and gossip without having to take the trouble of looking through columns of international or civic news to find it. It is probably a bad sign of the state of the public mind, but what isn’t?

To return to the legitimate press of the country, which should be a great force in the molding of public opinion and the foster­ing of vital writing, and we find it a business proposition of in­creasing efficiency, given over to circulation schemes and the gathering of millions of lines of advertising, efficient but color­less in the presentation of news, generally artistic in typographi­cal make-up (except for papers like those belonging to Mr. Hearst which are abominable hodge-podges of type-matter) and, in comparison with most French and many English papers, para­gons of clear-cut and comprehensive journalism. The American press is also, for the most part, free from venal influence and increasingly unbiased in its news-writing. Of course, it is open to persuasion in the matter of running innocuous publicity fur­nished to it by the hundreds of publicity organizations which every day send out tons of “flimsy” marked “For release Monday, please,” and a big advertiser is usually a little more successful in “landing” a picture of his daughter in the rotogravure sections than an ordinary citizen would be. The Government, too, is favored with space in the news columns whenever it wants to dis­guise its propaganda under the head of “news.” But all this propaganda and publicity to which the papers lend their col­umns is generally harmless and designed “for the public’s good” and is usually detected by its unimportance and dullness as read­ing-matter. On the whole, we may say that the American press is free (with certain obeisances to the advertising department), honest according to its liglits, and wholly uninspired.

We are told that the day of personal journalism has gone, and that the great personal journalists like Greeley, Dana, and Bryant would be out of date if they were alive today. Perhaps this is true, but we have no way of knowing, for there are no great per­sonal journalists alive today to act as test cases. And the reason that we have no great journalists is that the Newspaper Game has become the Newspaper Business, and, since Business has been adopted as the criterion, those who might have become great journalists have gone into business for themselves in other fields.

A Turkey Day Obscurity

Here we’ve arrived at Thanksgiving and, as usual, I forgot to put aside something special to post for the occasion. So I go riffling through a few of the more accessible piles this morning and, whattayaknow, I came pretty close. Okay, okay, Rhode Island Red isn’t a turkey, he’s a chicken, I know. Use some imagination for cryin’ out loud.

Rhode Island Red was by George Lemont, and ran Sunday only from October 28 1962 to June 26 1966. The star of the show was Red the chicken, the remainder of the dramatis personae being an assortment of other barnyard denizens.

The strip was renamed to Feeny Farm with Rhode Island Red on September 19 1965, then shortened to just Feeny Farm after November 7 of that year. I guess the chicken just wasn’t making it in the leading man role.

New of Yore: Hayes Chips in With a New Strip



Jeff Hayes Sells Strip By Sleight-of-Hand

By Erwin Kroll (E&P, 2/23/52)

“Now you see it — now you don’t!” Doesn’t sound like much of a sales line, but it’s the one Jeff Hayes uses—and uses success­fully—to sell his new comic strip.

Editors who aren’t already buy­ing “Chip” from Consolidated News Features can expect Mr. Hayes, a small man with a disproportionately large smile, to drop in any day now, give a quick— and unique—ren­dition of “Yank­ee Doodle,” and run through a dozen or so pro­fessional magic tricks. Odds are that they’ll enjoy the show. Odds are that they’ll pay for it by buy­ing “Chip.”

“Cartooning is my work,” Mr. Hayes explains, “but selling is my hobby. I love to sell.”

“Chip,” now in its third month, is appearing in more than 50 newspapers, many of them sold by Mr. Hayes himself. If side-show sleight-of-hand doesn’t sound like much of a reason for buying a new comic strip these days, the secret of “Chip’s” success may be found in its size. A new addition to the recent crop of “space-sav­ers,” each day’s release consists of only two panels about two inches high. They may be used vertically or horizontally.

“It’s something I’ve been look­ing for for a long time,” admits Mr. Hayes. “A half-size comic strip, ideal for a naturally lazy man like me.”

“Chip” follows the trend in more than size. It’s gag-a-day strip fea­turing kid humor, which is rapidly replacing science fiction as the number one comics vogue. Gags are “corny but cute.” Typical ex­ample: “Never forget, son, we are here to help others.” “What are the others here for?”

Mr. Hayes, a native of Newburgh, N. Y., came to New York City in the twenties to study at the Art Students League or, as he puts it, “to bum around for a while.” Later he joined the ad­vertising art staff of the New York Journal, where he stayed for 12 years. After a stretch of comic book work for King Features, he joined Consolidated News Features as general art handyman, doing sports and editorial cartoons and, at one time, three daily comic strips—”Pop,” “Silent Sam” and “Witty Kitty.” Besides “Chip” he still does “Silent Sam,” also known as “Adamson’s Ad­ventures.”

In addition to his selling trips, Mr. Hayes frequently takes to the road to deliver chalk talks and make personal appearances. Here he is often helped by his 17-year old daughter, an art student. “She draws much better than I do,” Mr. Hayes admits.