Herriman Saturday

On this Herriman Saturday we have two more cartoons about the road graft investigation, published on March 15 and 16.

For the Sunday edition of the 17th Herriman produced a pair of cartoons. The first, a cartoon of Robert Emmet, Irish patriot accompanies one of those sleep-inducing Arthur Brisbane Sunday Hearst editorials, this one in honor of St. Patrick’s Day. The cartoon was run at a gigantic size, 10″ x 15″. The final cartoon, a delightfully drawn piece for the automobile section, came out extremely dark on the photocopy, so some of the detail is quite muddy. Sorry about that.

Obscurity of the Day: Just Kids

Here’s yet another version of the most used comic strip title of all time, Just Kids (6 separate series by my count). This one takes the prize as the first ongoing use of the title and also as the shortest-lived version.

Charles Reese’s elegantly drawn version ran from November 9 1902 to February 8 1903 in the New York Tribune‘s Sunday comic section. In a very odd coincidence, T.S. Allen picked up the title for his series in the New York Evening Journal starting the very next week. One has to wonder if there isn’t more to the story.

In the short period of 1902-04 Reese really made the newspaper rounds, creating short-lived series for the Tribune, the New York World, Boston Herald and Philadelphia North American. I also seem to recall that he did a bunch of one-shot strips and panels for the McClure Sunday section in this period. He did a lot of straight illustration work as well.

George Carlin RIP

George Carlin was a hero to me, a magnificent wise philosopher whose 1970s comedy albums affected me greatly in my formative years. His later material, honed to razor sharpness, continued to challenge and liberate right to the end. Oh, and he was funny as hell, too. I’ll miss you George.

Check out a George Carlin animated cartoon on YouTube. Warning: rough language and nudity (you would expect any less from George?).

Obscurity of the Day: Kids

If you recall, a couple weeks ago we discussed Teddy, Jack and Mary, Tom McNamara’s kid strip that got publicly dumped on by the Chicago Tribune‘s readers in a popularity contest. Well, McNamara originally got his Tribune berth by giving the heave-ho to yet another kid strip called Kids.

The creator of Kids, Bert Green, had just a few short-lived syndicated features back in the teens, one with NEA and another with the New York Evening Telegram. But if memory serves he was gainfully employed as a bullpen artist throughout the teens and twenties. Kids was his first ‘bigtime’ syndicate contract and started appearing February 19 1928. He got the hook on May 12 1929 and Tom McNamara’s strip premiered the week after.

It’s possible that Bert Green gave up the strip voluntarily. In 1929 he published a book of prose and cartoons titled Love Letters of an Interior Decorator which did pretty well. Perhaps he thought he’d discovered greener pastures?

By the way, the book is a delightful zany romp — if you come upon a cheap copy I recommend you pick it up.

News of Yore 1952: Don’t Tread On Me

$1,000,000 Damage Suit

(E&P, 8/23/52)

A $1,000,000 damage suit was filed in New York State Supreme Court this week against the Na­tional Broadcasting Co., the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., Young & Rubicam, Inc., Talent Associates, Ltd., Fred Coe and David Shaw by Jerry Siegel, who in 1935 ori­ginated the “Superman” comic strip but was unable to retain con­trol of the feature.

Mr. Siegel’s complaint charges that the plot of a television play called “The Lantern Copy” broad­cast May 25 closely parallels his own career to a point, but por­trays the cartoonist as “a person of immoral, vicious, disreputable and criminal character and na­ture.” Defendants are the net­work, sponsor, advertising agency, script agency, producer and au­thor, respectively.

Mr. Siegel’s complaint, inci­dentally, states that TV rights to “Superman” have been sold “for a sum reported to be in the neigh­borhood of thirty million dollars.” McClure Syndicate distributes the strip.

Obscurity of the Day: The Little Woman, Way Out West and Jimmy And The Tiger

Buckle up, folks, this one’s going to be a bumpy ride.

Vic Forsythe first made his presence known to comic strip readers back in the 1910s with a string of features for the New York World. In those days he divided his time between strips and sports cartoons. Late in the teens he struck a minor vein of gold when he created Joe’s Car. The strip, starring Joe Jinks, was initially about the trials and tribulations of car ownership, but Forsythe branched out pretty quickly to have Joe engaging in various minor-key humorous adventures. The strip was renamed Joe Jinks in 1928 and Joe got himself into the boxing game, managing a fighter named Dynamite Dunn.

In 1931 the New York World was consolidated by Scripps-Howard and effectively ceased to be, and all its features were picked up by United Feature Syndicate. Perhaps Forsythe chafed at the new management or maybe his pay envelope took a turn south (Scripps-Howard was notoriously cheap), but in 1933 he abandoned Joe Jinks to Pete Llanuza and sought greener pastures.

Apparently he found some hay in the Hearst camp, where he created a new strip that was somewhat similar to Joe Jinks. It was titled Way Out West, and starred a Joe Jinks clone named Jimmy who goes west hoping to find gold. What he finds instead is a rootin’-tootin’ cowboy who goes by the name “The Texas Tiger”. Way Out West started on January 7 1934.

Though this Sunday strip often reads as if there was a daily adjunct I’ve never found any evidence of a daily from early in the run. Almost a year in, though, a daily does finally appear. It’s not titled Way Out West, though, it’s called Jimmy and the Tiger. This badly titled strip (sounds more like a kiddie strip to me) seems to have premiered on November 12 1934. In the daily version Jimmy grooms Tiger as a boxer — deja vu! The Sunday strip, meanwhile, focuses more on the wild west exploits of Tiger, and Jimmy is left out of the mix more and more.

The Sunday strip initially ran with a topper titled Bunker Bugs, a strip about golfing. But on April 21 1935 a new topper premiered titled The Little Woman. This strip brought Jimmy home where he played the harried husband in a domestic comedy. Although I call this a topper, Forsythe divided his two Sundays as a pair of half-pagers, a marketing ploy that made it easy to replace one or the other with a half-page ad, something that often happened with this strip.

Two months later Forsythe’s daily, Jimmy and the Tiger, was renamed The Little Woman. This replacement premiered on June 17 1935. Though the title was changed, the storyline stayed the same, with Jimmy and Tiger still in the boxing game. The daily strip ended December 5 1936 with the Tiger getting married.

The Sunday versions of Way Out West and The Little Woman both supposedly ran until November 22 1936 according to the King Features Microfilm Catalog, but I’ve never seen one later than June 21st. Given its status as a filler strip, the November date may be right. Has anyone seen the later ones?

And that’s the convoluted story of Vic Forsythe at King Features. He returned to doing Joe Jinks for United in 1937 but that didn’t last long. According to Ron Goulart he gave it up, this time for good, because of illness.

Thanks to Mark Tague who sent me an email asking about Forsythe’s stint at King. I had the timeline all balled up in my Stripper’s Guide index, but his questioning led me to do some further research to neaten things up considerably, even if there are still some unknowns.

Miscellany Day

Gordon Campbell’s Collection Found!
Regular blog readers know that I’ve been bemoaning the disappearance of Gordon Campbell’s incredible vast collection of early tearsheets and original art. He’d talked to me shortly before his death and said he still hadn’t made any final decisions about the final disposition of his collection. I suggested Ohio State University, but I knew that they hadn’t been the lucky recipients.

I’ve been asking around for years now, trying to find out what exactly did happen to it, but no one seemed to have an inkling. My worst fear was that the whole collection ended up in a landfill, a fate that would have been a loss almost too horrible to bear.

Finally an anonymous source has come forward to tell me that Steve Geppi, owner and president of Diamond Comic Distributors, now has the collection. It is reportedly all boxed up at his Geppi’s Entertainment Museum, presumably someday to be used in the displays. No word on how exactly Geppi came to be the owner; whether Gordon or his heirs sold it to Geppi, or if it was a donation (highly doubtful, I think).

I can’t say I’m exactly happy about the new ownership. I would have much preferred to have it end up in a research facility rather than a ballpark pop culture attraction. It seems to be without any facilities or, apparently, interest in serving researchers (I note that the Educational Programs link is empty, for instance). On the other hand, it’s better than a landfill. But it seems a little like having Neil Armstrong’s spacesuit end up at an MTV museum if you know what I mean.

Jackie Ormes Book
I had originally planned to review Nancy Goldstein’s fabulous book Jackie Ormes – The First African American Woman Cartoonist on the blog but instead I will be reviewing it for the next issue of Hogan’s Alley. Given the publication schedule of HA and the speed at which books go out of print these days, I just wanted to give you folks a heads-up that you will definitely want to purchase a copy. It’s a first rate piece of research, entertaining, and reproduces wonderful material that is about as rare as it comes.

Pittsburgh Courier on Proquest
I know at least a few blog readers have access to Proquest, the digitized newspaper archives. If you do I’d like to ask you a favor. I’m currently in need of good quality comic strip reproductions from the Pittsburgh Courier and the microfilm is in terrible condition. I know that Proquest recently added the Courier to its list of digitized newspapers.

The nearest facility to me that has the Courier from Proquest is about 120 miles away, and with the price of gas these days I’d rather not make that trip only to find out that the digitized version is no better than the microfilm. If you have access could you please do a little spot-check for me (I’m mostly interested in the 1930s-50s) and report back regarding the quality of the scans? Some Proquest material is stunningly good, others are so low resolution and pixilated that they’re of no use for my purposes.