Jim Ivey’s Sunday Comics

Jim Ivey’s new book, Graphic Shorthand, is available from Lulu.com for $19.95 plus shipping, or you can order direct from Ivey for $25 postpaid. Jim Ivey teaches the fundamentals of cartooning in his own inimitable style. The book is 128 pages, coil-bound. Send your order to:

Jim Ivey
5840 Dahlia Dr. #7
Orlando FL 32807

Also still available, Jim Ivey’s career retrospective Cartoons I Liked, available on Lulu.com or direct from Jim Ivey for $20 postpaid. When ordered from Ivey direct, either book will include an original Ivey sketch.

Herriman Saturday

After a few days off to recover from his long string of Shriners cartoons, Herriman returns to the Examiner’s pages on May 15 1907 with a cartoon commemorating the visit of British boxer Jimmy Lowes. I’m not sure why this was particularly newsworthy since the info I was able to find online indicated that Lowes only had a few major bouts at least a decade earlier.

The incredible political scandal trial of corrupt kingmaker Abe Ruef has begun in San Francisco, and Herriman on the 16th comments in this cartoon that Ruef could well bring down a whole raft of the bribe-givers. Sadly we’ll see little of Herriman’s commentary on this trial for awhile as he’s about to begin a phase of mainly doing sports cartoons. I do love Herriman’s perceptive and funny sports editorials, but the Ruef trial was one wild ride and it would be great fun to have Herriman’s commentary throughout.

Obscurity of the Day: Adolph From Hamburg

Here’s another Opper obscurity from the files of Cole Johnson. Adolph (From Hamburg) had a real short run from February 18 to March 25 1906. Adolph was a perfectly pleasant, if dim, Teutonic yutz — apparently Opper thought the concept of a friendly German was sufficiently out of the national character to merit a comic strip series.

The character made one final appearance on April 15, this time sharing a strip with Swinnerton’s Little Jimmy.

Going to be out of town a few days, be back this weekend.

Obscurity of the Day: Herr Professor Schuetzenfest

Apparently Cole Johnson considered my flood of Opper overflow posts to be too little of a good thing, because he’s sent me some additional Opper obscurities. This first one I was particularly glad to get because for some reason this title, Herr Professor Schuetzenfest, was misspelled and misattributed in my Stripper’s Guide index. For some reason I had Gus Dirks doing it.

This very short-lived strip ran from March 10 to June 16 1901, and this example is the last in the series. The professor was hard of hearing and the elementary gags revolved around his handicap. I don’t doubt that the professor’s name means something in German related to the gags, but the best I can come up with in Yahoo’s Babel Fish translation utility is that it means “protect firmly”.

Obscurity of the Day: Little Ah Sid the Chinese Kid

Clarence Rigby, one of the regulars at World Color Printing, penned Little Ah Sid the Chinese Kid, one of the longer running series from that preprint syndicate. Ah Sid was the young Americanized child of native Asian parents. The comedy highlighted the very common problem in those days of immigrant parents dealing with children who felt far more in tune with their new country. However, if by that description you take it that the strip was some profound socially relevant historical document keep in mind that the gags seldom rose above the level of racist slurs against Asians.

Little Ah Sid the Chinese Kid started on March 6 1904 and the inital run ended on November 6 of that year. But Rigby later revived the strip for a longer run at World Color, penning new episodes from October 15 1905 to May 19 1907.

The strip’s title was stolen from a popular novelty song of the 1880s. Here are the lyrics. The strip closely mirrored the tenor of the song:

Little Ah Sid was a Chinese Kid,
A cute little cuss you’d declare:
With eyes full of fun
And a nose that begun
Right up at the roots of his hair;
Jolly and fat
Was this frolicsome brat,
As he played thro’ the long summer day,
And braided his cue
As his father used to
In China land, far away.

Liya, ling hip, hop, wing,
Chinaman dance and China man sing;
Flip-flop fling, catch um wing,
‘Melican butterfly he sting!

Over the lawn
That Ah Sid played on,
A bumblebee flew in the spring;
“melican butterfly,”
Said he, with winking eye,
“Me catchee and pull of um wing.”
Then with his cap
Did he strike it a rap,
This innocent, gay bumblebee;
He put its remains
In the seat of his jeans,
For a pocket there had this Chinese.

Down on the green
Sat the wee sardine
In style that was strangely demure,
And said with a grin
that was brimful of sin,
“Me washee um butterfly sure!”
Little Ah Sid
He was only a kid,
And you could not expect him to guess
What kind of a bug
He was holding so snug
In folds of his loose-fitting dress.

Jim Ivey’s Sunday Comics

Jim Ivey’s new book, Graphic Shorthand, is available from Lulu.com for $19.95 plus shipping, or you can order direct from Ivey for $25 postpaid. Jim Ivey teaches the fundamentals of cartooning in his own inimitable style. The book is 128 pages, coil-bound. Send your order to:

Jim Ivey
5840 Dahlia Dr. #7
Orlando FL 32807

Also still available, Jim Ivey’s career retrospective Cartoons I Liked, available on Lulu.com or direct from Jim Ivey for $20 postpaid. When ordered from Ivey direct, either book will include an original Ivey sketch.

Herriman Saturday

Today we look at Herriman’s contributions to the Sunday May 12 1907 LA Examiner.

Up top we have the first sports cartoon Herriman’s done in awhile. Here he gives us a sketch of W. C. Temple, the retired former owner of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Temple’s main claim to fame is that he created one of the earliest post-season championship major league baseball gimmicks. He had the top two teams in the (then single) league battle in a best of seven series after the end of the regular season. The winner of the series got possession of the Temple Cup. This forerunner to the World Series was short-lived, for reasons you can read about in this excellent article.

Herriman’s second offering consists of one last set of Shriner toons. These cartoons appeared as part of a full page color fare-thee-well to the befezzed partiers. Sorry if the image seems awfully small, but that’s cuz it started out so darn big!

News of Yore 1965: Bob Stevens’ Clementine Released

Clementine and Cat Cavort In Cartoon
By Ray Erwin (E&P, 6/5/1965)

A Girl Scout with big expressive eyes and a pet cat she rescued from a garbage can will enliven newspaper readers soon.

The cartoon: “Clementine.”
The cartoonist: Bob Stevens.
The format: Comic strip or one-column panel six days a week.
The release: July 5.
The distributor: Lew Little Syndicate (210 Post St., Suite 915, San Francisco, Calif.).

Clementine and her cat, Fang, are the creations of Bob Stevens, Mill Valley, Calif., a retired Air Force lieutenant-colonel who has been a free-lance cartoonist for years. Mr. Stevens draws editorial cartoons for the San Jose (Calif.) Mercury-News on a free-lance basis.

Jet Pilot
After studying art at Pasadena (Calif.) City College, Mr. Stevens joined the Army Air Corps in 1942 and won his wings a year later. He was a fighter pilot in the Pacific until the end of World War II, when he became a civilian flight instructor and advertising director of a short-haul airline. He was recalled to active duty in 1948 as a jet pilot and set the world’s speed record in an Air Force F86 in 1950.
While assigned to the Strategic Air Command at Omaha, Col. Stevens drew illustrations for the Omaha (Neb.) World-Herald’s Sunday supplements.

Clementine and Cat
Fang, soon after being pulled from a smelly garbage can with a fishbone in his teeth, proved to be quite an education for Clementine. She took him to a bathtub and then wrote with a shaky and bandaged hand, “Dear Diary, Today I learned something new about cats.” After taking Fang to a pet obedience school—with predictable disastrous results—Clementine exclaimed: “My goodness, I thought all pet schools were co-educational.”

Mr. Stevens said his six-year old Danish niece, Majbritt Funder, and Sandra Stevens, his brother’s eight-year-old daughter, provided the inspiration for Clementine.

Ad Strips: Electrified History

Here’s a gem from the good folks at General Electric. This series of cartoon ads was produced in 1924 by the great C.D. Russell. Russell was at this time well on his way to becoming a favorite in the humor magazine Judge, and almost a decade away from creating what would become his life’s work, Pete the Tramp.

Thanks to Cole Johnson for sending in these superb samples from the series!

Stripper’s Guide Bookshelf: Scorchy Smith and the Art of Noel Sickles

Scorchy Smith and the Art of Noel Sickles

Edited by Dean Mullaney, biographical essay by Bruce Canwell
IDW Publishing
Hardcover, 391 pages, $49.99
ISBN 978-160010206-6

Noel Sickles never really had any great ambition to be a comic strip cartoonist, but nonetheless ended up being one of the most influential of the 20th century.

Scorchy Smith was an awful Associated Press aviation adventure strip penned by John Terry. Sickles called Terry the worst cartoonist ever, and he wasn’t exaggerating much. When Terry became ill Sickles was given the thankless task of ghosting the strip in that horrible ‘style’. Luckily for Sickles the ghosting period didn’t last long, as Terry soon died. Sickles was then given free rein to experiment, and in the process he revolutionized the way adventure strips are drawn. Sickles is credited with popularizing the chiarascuro technique for adventure comic strips, a style that his buddy Milton Caniff more famously appropriated for his Terry and the Pirates. Sickles experimented endlessly in Scorchy, and this volume shows Sickles playing with various techniques, changing the look of the strip practically on a week by week basis.

Little fanfare has been given to Sickles writing talents. He famously disliked the process of writing the strip, and I expected therefore to have a hard slog reading through his entire three year stint. However, I was gratified to find that Sickles’ writing was far better than I had been led to expect. His stories make good internal sense, a basic factor lacking in some highly celebrated strips, and one that keeps me from enjoying many adventure strips. His plots, according to essayist Bruce Canwell often loose adaptations of his favorite western movies, are entertaining and solid. His story pacing, especially after he became more comfortable with his assignment, is unhurried and full of little details, a refreshing change from the frenetic pace maintained by much of his competition. About the only oddity in the stories, and I’m surprised that his editors let him get away with it, is that aviation, the raison d’etre of the strip, is noticeably absent. While strips like Tailspin Tommy strictly constructed their stories around flying, Sickles’ Scorchy stories rarely use the aviation angle in any meaningful way. Sometimes the only flying that happens is in the segue from one story to the next. The stories are better off, though, because the slavish imperative of sticking to genre makes strips like Tailspin Tommy quite a bore for those not fascinated by wind shear and the latest advances in de-icers.

The reproduction of the strips is miraculously excellent if I assume correctly that tearsheets had to be used as source material. The smaller papers that tended to use the Associated Press features seldom had excellent print quality, but the strips here look fantastic. Even the zipatone, very hard to reproduce well from tearsheets, is clear and sharp. I doff my Photoshopping hat to the work of the restorer on this project.

The book is a giant, weighing in at a whopping seven pounds. Not only do we get the complete Sickles run on Scorchy (plus a little of Terry and Christman to pad out story arcs) but there is an exhaustive biographical essay by Bruce Canwell. It is accompanied by an incredible array of Sickles work all the way from rare early pieces to his later commercial and fine art work. This section of the book, comprising over 130 pages, could easily have been published on its own to rave reviews from Sickles fans.