Tsk, tsk…

Jim Ivey supplies a weekly comic strip here for your enjoyment, and is drawing up a new series based on the encouraging positive commentary you gave on the original 46 week series “My Other Life”.

Also based on the apparent interest here in his work, Jim and I put quite a bit of effort into producing the book “Cartoons I Liked” described in the post below. We assumed that you might like to see the sort of work Jim was famous for during his distinguished career as an editorial cartoonist.

I can speak freely here because I will delete this posting before Jim sees it. Granted the book has only just become available, but I can see based on Lulu’s seller tools that only a few of you have gone to look at the book there, and there hasn’t been a single sale as yet.

The book is available there with an option of purchasing for as little as $3. If you want to let Jim know that you appreciate all the work he puts into producing his Sunday comic strip series go buy a copy. Nobody’s looking to get rich here — consider buying a copy as a very cheap vote for the continuation of Jim’s weekly appearance here. Don’t put me in the position of having to tell Jim that his book sold 0 copies folks. As things stand would you blame him if he said to hell with it and asked for his Sunday appearances here to end?

PS — if the reason you haven’t ordered the book on Lulu is that you’re busy writing a letter of appreciation and ordering a personalized copy from Jim, please forgive any affront in this peevish post. You have my deepest gratitude and thanks.

New Jim Ivey Book Published

I’m happy to announce that a new retrospective of Jim Ivey’s cartooning career is now available. “Cartoons I Liked” is a compilation of some of his personal favorite cartoons from a long and distinguished career at the Washington Star, St. Petersburg Times, San Francisco Examiner and Orlando Sentinel. In addition the book offers some rare unpublished material, including rejected editorial cartoons and comic strip submissions.

If you are a longtime Jim Ivey fan or have just recently discovered him through his weekly comic strips on the Stripper’s Guide blog you’re sure to enjoy this book.

The book is available from Lulu.com for $9.95 (8.5″ x 11″ softcover) or $3 (PDF download). If you’d like an autographed copy with an original sketch send $20 check or money order to:

Jim Ivey
5840 Dahlia Drive #7
Orlando FL 32807

Domestic US orders only please.

From the back cover:

Jim Ivey’s editorial cartooning career spanned 1949-89. He was a political cartoonist at the Washington Star, St. Petersburg Times, San Francisco Examiner and Orlando Sentinel. His work was also syndicated through the Chicago Tribune and Ben Roth Agency. His uncluttered style rejected the grease-crayon and label-littered conventions of editorial cartooning and ushered in a new era of experimentation and graphic inventiveness in the field. This is a collection of Ivey’s favorites spanning his entire career. In addition to editorial cartoons there are several bonuses including rare unpublished drawings and syndicate submissions.

In addition to his celebrated cartooning career Ivey also operated the Cartoon Museum, the first gallery of cartoon art in the U.S., was regional chairman of the National Cartoonists Society, and published cARToon, a legendary magazine covering the history of cartooning.

Ivey is now semi-retired but still accepts occasional commissions from marketing agencies and publishers. He also draws a comic strip that is a weekly treat for readers of the Stripper’s Guide blog, a website about cartooning history.

Obscurity of the Day: PIXies

One of the most unique features ever to appear on the funny pages was Jack Wohl’s PIXies. Wohl must have been a glutton for creative self-flagellation because in this feature he limited his characters to numbers, letters and common everyday objects. No humans need apply, in fact no animate objects of any kind.

Wohl did an amazing job of coming up with creative ways to milk his strictly limited subject matter. His creativity in coming up with delightful gags, especially with fonts and letter shapes, seemed practically unbounded.

Now anyone with a half-decent imagination could make a go of a concept like PIXies for a few months, maybe a year or two, but Wohl turned out the feature for over two decades. And for much of the time he did PIXies it was far from the only thing on his plate. Wohl had at least one additional feature going for a good part of that time, and, at least when he started out, was also an executive at an advertising firm on top of it all.

PIXies started as a daily one-column panel on May 16 1966. A Sunday was added but never really caught on — in the Des Moines Register, one of the few papers to carry it regularly, it ran from March 19 1967 to July 11 1971. The more popular daily panel forged on until December 28 1987.

A few PIXies reprint books are long out of print but still available pretty cheap — they’re definitely on the recommended reading list.

Obscurity of the Day: The Boy Friend

Marjorie Henderson, world famous as Marge, is known for creating Little Lulu, the mischievous little girl with the corkscrew curls for the Saturday Evening Post. A decade before Marge struck gold with Lulu, though, she dipped a toe into the world of newspaper syndication when she created The Boy Friend for Ledger Syndicate.

The Boy Friend was one of a torrent of single-column panel features created to capture some of the market that had been discovered by Ethel Hays with her Flapper Fanny. Marge gets a little credit for at least being original enough to turn the tables on the flapper panel by focusing on the boys instead of the girls.

Flapper Fanny debuted in January 1925, and The Boy Friend followed on June 8 1925. As with most of Hays’ imitators, the panel never really took off and is most often found in small papers running on a space available basis. The panel ceased sometime in 1927 but can be found popping up in newspapers for several years after that, probably because the Ledger Syndicate was continuing to sell the feature in batches after its initial run.

Herriman Saturday

With this post we complete Herriman’s 1906 output at the LA Examiner.

On December 28th Herriman continues his commentary on Jeffries’ flirtation with a comeback along with other boxing bon mots.

On the 29th he contributes a cartoon to a news story about a forgery case. George W. Perkins and Charles S. Fairchild were indicted on a charge that they had cooked the books in a shady deal between J. Pierpont Morgan and the Republican Party. Not much ever came of the case and it was dropped in 1907.

Finally on December 31 Herriman does one of those “endless possibilities of the new year” cartoons that were and continue to be a staple on newspaper editorial pages as we ring in the new. Notice the line down the middle? It probably indicates that this cartoon was patched. May indicate that Herriman changed his mind about one half or the other and redrew it.

Miscellany Day

  • Comics researcher Rob Stolzer is writing a bio on cartoonist Jay Irving. He’s discovered an ad from July 1923, shown above, for a sports strip called Bozo Blimp. Problem is that neither he nor I have ever found a newspaper appearance of this very early Irving effort. Can anyone help Rob with information about this strip?

  • I’m betting that there’s some Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fan out there who can tell me who was responsible for what on the daily comic strip. The feature didn’t carry any credits. From an article by John Wells in Comics Buyers Guide #1208 (January 10 1997) I learned that the creators were, or included, Dean Clarrian, Ryan Brown, Jim Lawson and Dan Berger. Problem is I don’t know which were artists, which were writers, or when each of them worked on the strip. Can anyone help?

  • I am trying to complete my runs of Cartoonist Profiles and the old Cartoons Magazine. I have quite a few duplicate issues from these series if anyone wants to trade, or I’ll pay cash. I’m looking for:

Cartoonist Profiles #1, 132, 142

Cartoons Magazine
1912: February, March, April, May, June
1913: June, October
1914: March, May
1915: December
1921: July

  • For reasons unknown this sad news doesn’t seem to have gotten much press coverage. Al Scaduto, who has been handling the art chores on They’ll Do It Every Time since 1966, and the writing since 1991, passed away on December 8 2007. The syndicate has decided to end the feature when Scaduto’s material already in the pipeline runs out. Last releases were to be February 2 2008 (daily) and February 10 (Sunday). King Features has been syndicating the feature since 1929, and it was originally created by Jimmy Hatlo.

  • I’ve looked through my files and I can’t find a few things I know should be in there some darn place. Maybe someone out there happens to have cites at hand.

1- Looking for proof that Marvelous Mike, a 1956 United Feature strip by Bob Kuwahara, was chosen for syndication in some sort of national contest.

2- that Pat Oliphant made a public stink when Doonesbury won the Pulitzer in 1975.

Or are both of these events just conjured out of random neuron firings in my noggin?

  • Does someone who goes by the eBay moniker “fundaysunnies” happen to be a Stripper’s Guide reader? You won something on eBay recently that I’d very much like to ask you about.

News of Yore: Emidio Angelo Profiled – 1952

Two Humor Features From Inquirer Staffers
By Joseph W. Dragonetti (E&P, 5/31/52)

Philadelphia—Two local news­papermen, both of them serious-minded guys at heart, have rede­ployed their journalistic talents to the business of making readers laugh because they feel people to­day are getting entirely too gloomy.

The laugh producers are Oliver H. (Ollie) Crawford, a reporter turned humorist; and Emidio (Mike) Angelo, a portrait painter who switched to cartooning be­cause he figured it was much more fun as well as profitable. Both work on the Inquirer.

Ollie is author of the front-page feature, “Headline Hopping” and even on days when the spot news is world-shaking and space-con­suming, his chuckles are not crowded off.

Mike has created two original cartoon characters. He uses his deft artist’s brush to keep “Emily and Mabel” ever in pursuit of a man and his thousands of follow­ers laughing.

The features of both men are now syndicated nationally; Head­line Hopping by General Fea­tures Corp., and Emily and Ma­bel by the Chicago Sun-Times Syndicate. But Ollie and Mike’s present top positions in the news­paper field were not the result of any overnight success. There were many years of effort before they found their proper niche.

Strangely enough, their oppor­tunities came when editors of the Inquirer, during World War II and the postwar period, felt that some­thing should be done to lighten the seriousness of the news col­umns.

Mike was first to fill a specific need. He had worked around newspapers and did freelance for many years before he was “dis­covered” as a newspaper cartoon­ist by E. B. (Tommy) Thompson, assistant managing editor and fea­ture editor of the Inquirer. During the dark days of the last war, Thompson asked Mike to create a general panel which would “give people a laugh,” and the artist welcomed the opportunity, because he had a feeling that even the comics were getting too serious.

Mike had joined the Inquirer in 1938 and his work included the Uncle Dominick cartoon for John Cummings’ column. Being by nature a man who laughs a lot himself and gets a kick out of bringing a smile to others, Mike did not need much prodding from Thompson to launch the new fea­ture.

He started a general panel called “Funny Angles.” Occasionally, two spinsters would appear, but they were so good that Emily and Mabel emerged as a separate fea­ture.

Emily and Mabel has given Mike a national reputation, but success came after years of hard work on other projects. Son of an Italian immigrant, he worked his way through several art schools after getting the urge to draw from a few months association with the art department of the old North American in 1918.

His ambition was to become a painter. He won two Cresson scholarships for study in Europe in 1927 and 1928 from the Penn­sylvania Academy of Fine Arts. He became interested in cartoon­ing, he said, because he “had to eat” and painting commissions were slow. When checks for some of his drawings arrived from national publications, he decided to devote more time to that art.

Still free-lancing, Mike started to do some work for the Philadel­phia Ledger in 1930, but never re­ceived much recognition as a newspaper cartoonist until Thomp­son thought he was the man to start a new and refreshing feature for the Inquirer. Mike has been clicking steadily with Emily and Mabel ever since.

Mike thinks up gags himself for the Emily and Mabel panel, but he also employs a gag man, Vin­cent Schiller of the Inquirer li­brary.

Mike likes to watch people reading his panels in trolley cars and subways. He says that when they smile over Emily and Mabel he feels good. That is the real purpose of cartooning, to make people laugh, he adds and con­cludes that social significance or propaganda should have no place in comic strips.

On the surface Ollie Crawford does not look a bit funny or hum­orous. If anything, the whole im­pression is one of dead serious­ness, but his Headline Hopping puts some hope into breakfast table readers who worry about the future of the world after they look at the news columns.
The feature originated with his assignment to do a daily column of highlights and sidelights on the Democratic and Republican na­tional conventions here in 1948.

Ollie had started his newspaper career as a sportswriter with the Atlantic City Press Union News­papers, transferred to the news side as desk assistant and rewrite-man. He joined the Inquirer staff in 1945, and covered many top, serious news assignments.

When he was asked to do the sidelights on the national conven­tions, he developed a new light style of writing and decided to try this technique on news sub­jects.

Tommy Thompson, the man who discovered Mike, gave a sim­ilar boost to Ollie. He passed his sample Headline Hopping col­umns on to Walter H. Annenberg, editor and publisher.
Annenberg, aware of the grim tone of the news, snapped up the idea for a humorous feature. The column was introduced on Novem­ber 6, 1948, and has been a regu­lar feature of the Inquirer ever since. It originally ran inside, now it is always used on Page One. In fact Headline Hopping is the first daily front page feature in the 122-year history of the news­paper, attesting to the popularity of Ollie’s sharp comments on the news.

Recent syndication of Ollie’s column has brought his unique humor to millions of newspaper readers throughout the country. Newspaper writers marvel at Ollie’s ability to keep the gags flowing right on top of the news every day.

The column is not written in advance. It takes today’s headline news story, develops it into slight­ly under 40 lines of wisecracks and epigrams for publication in the succeeding day’s paper. The pro­cedure is to pick a story, rough up a column while commuting to the Inquirer office from Atlantic City, polish and write it for de­livery to the desk and syndicate (by wire) by 1 p.m. daily.

Obscurity of the Day: Snoozy and his Friends

Here’s a really obscure find from the St. Paul Pioneer Press. In the teens their Sunday section was an absolute madhouse of syndicate and strip changes. This full page Sunday by staffer Ted Nelson first appeared on March 29 1914 after one of these purges.

Snoozy and his buddies make a habit in the strip of visiting with local politicos and celebrities, which probably made it a popular with P-P readers who in these days barely got to know a strip before it would be whisked away and replaced with something else.

The feature was originally titled With Snoozy And Some of His Friends Baldy, Fatty and Fuzz, but I image Nelson got sick of doing all that lettering, and the strip settled on the more terse Snoozy and his Friends after a few weeks.

Since Nelson was on staff his Sunday strip survived quite a few of the ensuing purges, lasting until January 24 1915, a ten month run that made it a real veteran in that fast-changing funnies section.

Obscurity of the Day: Rufus McGoofus

Joe Cunningham was a journeyman cartoonist who spent most of his career kicking around at the Philadelphia papers. His earliest comic strip series were at the North American, but his most successful, Rufus McGoofus, came after he switched over to the Ledger.

Joe may not have learned cartooning at the Landon school, but you’d never know it from his style. It was prototypical Landon and never really got much better over his long career. Cunningham did a lot of sports cartooning, and any minor flash of brilliance, or at least pushing the envelope of basic competence, came in that venue. Rufus McGoofus (also various titled Rufus M’Goofus for no particular reason) started as a mascot of sorts in Cunningham’s sports cartoons before getting a berth in his own comic strip. The feature was, as can be seen in this better than average example, hastily drawn with gags that rarely rose above jokebook level.

Cunningham drew the strip first as a daily starting November 6 1922 in the Evening Ledger. A Sunday strip was added on January 28 1923; it appeared in the Public Ledger (the morning and Sunday issued paper). The daily ran for nearly three years, ending on May 16 1925, while the Sunday soldiered on a little longer, ending September 6 of that year.

Rufus came out of retirement a few years later as the second banana in a short-lived revival, but we’ll cover that in another post one of these days.