Herriman Saturday


Wednesday, July 3 1907 — Harrison Gray Otis, arch-conservative publisher of the Los Angeles Times, is accused of taking bribes from Patrick Calhoun. Calhoun was a railroad magnate who came to LA to set up a streetcar system. Looking through the papers of July 1907 all I can find in the way of specific accusations is that Calhoun purchased many thousands of copies of one particular day’s edition of the Times, a very backhanded yet effective way of making a bribe to a publisher.

Both Otis and Calhoun were justly infamous for their shady business and political deals, so the accusation that there was bribery going on between the two would have been like accusing Burt Reynolds of wearing a toupee.

Thursday, July 4 1907 — The big fight is on! Australian Bill Squires will meet Tommy Burns in the squared circle today in a battle of the titans. Who will emerge triumphant? I’m not tellin’. Tune in next week for Herriman’s post-mortem.

News of Yore 1949: Religious Feature Saves Country Weekly


Heart Attack Led To Bible Feature
(E&P, 1/22/49)

During the war, when Don Orput bought a weekly in Grants Pass, Ore., he achieved a life-long dream, although it was rather a mad time for it, what with newsprint, labor and machinery shortages developing. However, he and his wife were happy.

Then came a sad day. Don Orput suffered a midnight heart attack and doctors said, “You’re through.”

Orput nearly was through, until he remembered a suggestion of Fred Colvig of the Portland Oregonian, now an editor of the Denver (Colo.) Post. The suggestion was he make something out of his lifetime hobby — collecting Bible references.

Since 1945 Orput, assisted by his wife, has been producing a two-column feature called the Dean’s Bible Bee. At first done anonymously, the feature consisted of three questions—usually of current interest—illustrated, accompanied by answers that cited text.

The feature clicked with the Oregonian and several other West Coast newspapers, and last year was picked up for syndication by Register & Tribune Syndicate.

[Allan’s notes: Dean’s Bible Bee sported delightful cartoon illustrations by Vernon Greene. The feature seems to have ended just six months after the publication of this article.]

Obscurity of the Day: Lancelot






Lancelot was introduced by the NEA syndicate on March 16 1970, back in the days when thoughtless, boorish husbands were apparently supposed to be funny. The newlyweds Lori and Lance are getting to know each others faults and foibles in the strip. Lance is an utter clod, while Lori is so in love that it barely registers. I can hardly imagine a more depressing strip — most every episode I read only makes me wonder how long this is going to go on before Lori divorces this loser. Well, the divorce never came but the strip ended on April 29 1972. I figure about two years had to be all Lori could stand of this guy, and readers were happy to see them go. Would have been kind of interesting to actually see comic strip characters go through a divorce, though … that would be a first! Maybe it would have started a trend — Jiggs divorces Maggie for physical cruelty, Loweezy divorces Snuffy for lack of support — hey, this starts to sound kind of interesting!

It’s too bad that the strip had such a stinker of a hook, because the team of artist Paul Coker, Jr. and writer Frank Ridgeway were certainly capable of excellent work.

Ridgeway had been at the art helm of Mister Abernathy, a King Features strip, since it began in 1957. Ridgeway took the pseudonym “Penn” to write Lancelot, presumably because King wouldn’t have wanted him moonlighting for a second syndicate. Good thing, though, because it meant he never had to take any public blame for Lancelot.

Paul Coker, Jr., a superb cartoonist with an instantly recognizeable style, was already a Mad magazine veteran with a strong following. He was also well-known to anyone who watches TV Christmas specials — Frosty The Snowman and other Rankin-Bass projects were blessed with his terrific character designs. His style was so widely copied in the 70s that it became cliché, hurting his later career. Like Adam West or Leonard Nimoy, he was a victim of his own popularity.

Boston Bound — Soliciting Your Suggestions

Travel plans have been firmed up and it’s now definite that I’ll be going to Boston in May. I hope to have at least four full days at the Boston Public Library, the only library in the country that has really good coverage of Boston and other Massachusetts papers. (Don’t get me started on why that is — what I have to say on the matter is not at all kind.)

I know that I definitely have work to do on the Boston Traveller, the Post, the Herald and the Evening Transcript. The Globe I’ll work on if time permits, but it’s available at the Library of Congress, so I’m giving it low priority.

Looking over the film available at the BPL I see they have a number of other papers with which I’m less familiar. So I’d like to solicit the brain trust for any information you may have about the comic strip contents of these papers:

Boston Daily Advertiser (thru 1929), Sunday Advertiser (thru 1972) — these were Hearst papers I believe — anyone know if they have interesting content, or did they just run the standard Hearst strips)

Boston American (1904-61) — also a Hearst paper, right?

Boston Chronicle (to 1960), Boston Guardian (1939-57) — black papers; any interesting content or did they just reuse Defender/Courier stuff?)

These ones I know nothing about:

Boston Courier (to 1914)
Boston Free Press (1960-67)
Boston Morning Journal (to 1917)
Boston Evening News (1903-04)
Boston Evening Record (to 1921)
Boston Daily Record (1929-61) — combined with American 62 on
Boston Telegraph (1921-28)
Boston Sunday Times (to 1915)
Boston Daily Tribune (1907 only)

Boston also had a long list of weekly papers. Does anyone know of any with interesting content? What about the rest of Massachusetts — anyone know of interesting papers I ought to check?

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

Tuesday, June 25 1907 — The Angels put their first place spot in danger with a disappointing road trip.

Wednesday, June 26 1907 — The Angels bounce back from the skids, beating San Francisco 2-0 in an exciting contest. The Seals got just one hit, while the Angels didn’t manage to score until the 8th inning.

Barney Joy, featured prominently in Herriman’s cartoon, has an interesting story. By varying accounts he was born in Hawaii, Canada, China and Malaysia. He was dark-skinned which meant trouble in professional baseball. The Boston Braves, claiming him to be a Canadian (how that ensures him to be white I’m not sure), signed him to a major league contract for the 1908 season, but apparently backed out when they started getting flack over signing a ‘colored’ player. Joy continued to play in various west coast minor league systems for awhile before dropping from sight.

Regarding the small vignette in Herriman’s cartoon about umpire Hamilton, there was apparently quite a bit of razzing of this poor fellow. “Ham” Hamilton was a last-minute substitute for the regular umpire (yes, one umpire called the whole game). Apparently Hamilton was a bit wet behind the ears and caught hell from the fans from the first inning to the last.

By the way, in a footnote sure to make today’s baseball fans wish for bygone days, this contest took eactly an hour and a half to play out. Oh for the days of baseball that moved along at such a pace…

News of Yore: Harold Teen Reaches Middle Age


Harold Teen Reaches 30th Anniversary

(E&P, 3/12/49)

Carl Ed (rhymes with Swede, his occasional nickname) is now pressing 60 but still draws “flaming youth” with accuracy in the “Harold Teen” strip that he created 30 years ago. The Sunday color page began May 4, 1919. Teen is distributed by the CHICAGO TRIBUNE-NEW YORK NEWS SYNDICATE.

Ed speaks and draws from experience, having watched his only daughter, Donna Jean, and her friends at Evanston, Ill., grow through the teen age.

Daughter Wed ‘Harold Teen’

The daughter is now married to Fred Reynolds, Jr., WGN continuity writer and the Harold Teen of WGN’ s program, “Swinging at the Sugar Bowl.”
So, Ed now observes his granddaughter, “the fourth generation of petticoat influence,” for ideas for the future Harold Teen.

During the 30 years, Ed has coined or picked up many a term in use with the teen-agers. He popularized such words as “sheik” and invented “sheba” to go with it, dug up such mottoes as “Bored of Education” and “Squad Car” for the jalopies appearing in his strip. Once he had to do some research to concoct a recipe with his youthful friends, when he introduced a “gedunk” sundae in the strip. ‘Requests for the recipe came in from all over the country.

Styles have changed, but the appeal is virtually the same as when Carl Ed worked out the strip with the cooperation of the late Capt. J. M. Patterson, then co-editor and publisher of the Chicago Tribune. He got the job with Patterson, whom he heard was looking for a strip about youth, after studying Booth Tarkington’s “Seventeen.”

Ed came to Chicago in 1918 as sports cartoonist for the old Chicago Evening American. He had been city editor of the Rock Island (Ill.) Argus, having first joined the paper as a cartoonist, then as sports writer. He was also drawing for World Color Syndicate, St. Louis, in his spare time.

The Poppa Jenks of the strip is from real life, a Pop Walters who ran a combiniation stationery shop and soda fountain across from Moline, 111., high school, which Ed attended.

Carl’s father had wanted to send him to art school, but he died when Carl was 13. Ed never attended art school until years later when he was an instructor at the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts. He insists that “other fellows draw rings around me” but his ability to draw “luscious armfuls” is one of the strip’s chief appeals to the teeners. Most of the characters are from real life, incidentally.

News of Yore: Harold Teen Reaches Middle Age



Harold Teen Reaches 30th Anniversary

(E&P, 3/12/49)

Carl Ed (rhymes with Swede, his occasional nickname) is now pressing 60 but still draws “flaming youth” with accuracy in the “Harold Teen” strip that he created 30 years ago. The Sunday color page began May 4, 1919. Teen is distributed by the Chicago Tribune-New York News Syndicate.

Ed speaks and draws from experience, having watched his only daughter, Donna Jean, and her friends at Evanston, Ill., grow through the teen age.

Daughter Wed ‘Harold Teen’
The daughter is now married to Fred Reynolds, Jr., WGN continuity writer and the Harold Teen of WGN’ s program, “Swinging at the Sugar Bowl.” So Ed now observes his granddaughter, “the fourth generation of petticoat influence,” for ideas for the future Harold Teen.

During the 30 years, Ed has coined or picked up many a term in use with the teen-agers. He popularized such words as “sheik” and invented “sheba” to go with it, dug up such mottoes as “Bored of Education” and “Squad Car” for the jalopies appearing in his strip. Once he had to do some research to concoct a recipe with his youthful friends, when he introduced a “gedunk” sundae in the strip. Requests for the recipe came in from all over the country.

Styles have changed, but the appeal is virtually the same as when Carl Ed worked out the strip with the cooperation of the late Capt. J. M. Patterson, then co-editor and publisher of the Chicago Tribune. He got the job with Patterson, whom he heard was looking for a strip about youth, after studying Booth Tarkington’s “Seventeen.”

Ed came to Chicago in 1918 as sports cartoonist for the old Chicago Evening American. He had been city editor of the Rock Island (Ill.) Argus, having first joined the paper as a cartoonist, then as sports writer. He was also drawing for World Color Syndicate, St. Louis, in his spare time.

The Poppa Jenks of the strip is from real life, a Pop Walters who ran a combination stationery shop and soda fountain across from Moline, Ill., high school, which Ed attended.

Carl’s father had wanted to send him to art school, but he died when Carl was 13. Ed never attended art school until years later when he was an instructor at the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts. He insists that “other fellows draw rings around me” but his ability to draw “luscious armfuls” is one of the strip’s chief appeals to the teeners. Most of the characters are from real life, incidentally.

Obscurity of the Day: Looy Dot Dope






Nominally by the great Milt Gross, Looy Dot Dope owes much more to its ghost, Johnny Devlin, for whatever small success it had.

Looy was the hare-brained son in the Feitlebaum family, the mainstay characters in Gross’ weekly illustrated short story Gross Exaggerations in the Dumbwaiter. This New York World column, which featured Gross’ trademark impenetrable Noo Yawk dialect humor, started in the early 20s. At the same time Gross also did a series of daily strips. In late 1925, almost certainly at the end of October, Gross’ current daily, Banana Oil, underwent a name change. In the Evening World the name was changed to Gross Exaggerations, then to The Feitlebaum Family on June 1 1926, then finally to Looy Dot Dope on 1/7/27. Other papers seems to have run it from the beginning as Looy Dot Dope.

I haven’t seen the very earliest strips in this series with my own peepers (Jeffrey Lindenblatt got me the info on the early history of the strip from his indexing of the New York Evening World), but certainly by 1927 Johnny Devlin was ghosting the art. I assume that he also did the writing since there are no Yiddish-isms to be found in the strip. See the first strip above for an example of the strip by Devlin under Gross’ byline.

In late summer 1930 Milt Gross was lured away from the World by Hearst. At this point Looy could have been put out to pasture, but instead the World decided to continue it, now giving Johnny Devlin credit on the strip. His byline started showing up in September of that year.

Until this time Looy (as the title was often shortened by newspapers) had confined itself mostly to gag-a-day activities, and pretty lame ones to boot. However, once Devlin got credit, or blame, as the creator, the strip started morphing. Humorous continuities began to be interspersed with runs of daily gags, and even serious adventures popped up from time to time. For instance, in the 1932 sequence shown above Looy starts out with gag-a-day strips about working as a reporter. Then a storyline evolved about reporter Looy getting some inside info on a group of gangsters. At first it was still gag-driven continuity then all of a sudden got very serious as Looy went into hiding to avoid being whacked. Eventually Looy brought the crooks to justice, and quick as a finger snap the strip reverted to gag-a-day.

When the New York World went belly-up Looy dodged another bullet when it was picked up by United Feature Syndicate (that syndicate took on all of the World’s strips and instantly launched this very minor player into the big-time). United seemed to have better luck at selling the feature and the strip started appearing in far more papers than it had earlier on.

Looy must have been considered a success because sometime in 1933 or ’34 a Sunday page was added (my earliest is in late ’34 but I suspect it started well before that).

For reasons unknown Devlin walked away from his now modestly successful strip. His byline disappeared as of November 30 1935. After a four month period where the strip was unsigned, Bernard Dibble began taking credit for the feature. Dibble was the hardest working man in comics at the time — as best I can tell, during this period he was also doing the daily version of The Captain and the Kids, the Sunday Cynical Susie, and the daily and Sunday Danny Dingle. How he managed it all I can’t even begin to guess. One can only hope that the poor guy was getting a lot of uncredited help from the rest of the United Feature bullpen.

Dibble’s version of Looy lacked whatever small measure of charm it had under Devlin and the strip petered out on July 8 1939. It had a brief curtain call in 1940 when World Color Printing offered reprints of mid-30s Sundays.

One additional note — in the alphabet soup of titles under which the strip ran, I must also mention The Mis-Adventures of Louie, a title inexplicable used by some papers in the 1930s.

Phew — that was exhausting!

Obscurity of the Day Redux: Willie Dee


Well, this is a first for me. I made these scans of Willie Dee thinking that I would cover it as an obscurity. What do I find but that I’ve already covered it way back in 2006. Here’s a link.

Well, waste not want not. Since in the original post I showed only dailies we’re covering new ground, sorta. I do have one extra tidbit that I’ve learned since the original post. Apparently Willie had his own radio show. The Oakland Tribune ran a little squib above the strips advertising it. Don’t know anything about the show, whether it came before or after the strip version, or how long it lasted. Any radio mavens out there who can educate me?