A Glance Back to 1924 In First E&P Directory
By Jane McMaster (E&P, 7/29/50)
Publication of the 25th annual Editor & Publisher Syndicate Directory’s 68-page cross-indexing of 1,653 features prompts observation that feature quantity has about doubled in a quarter of a century.
The first syndicate directory was published Oct. 25, 1924 as 18 pages of a regular issue. (No directories were published in 1943 and 1944). It listed 900 features and some titles showed a charming reflection of current history.
The newfangled horseless carriage was enshrined in comic strips such as “Gas Buggies” and “Down the Road,” by Beck; “Carrie and Her Car”; “Joe’s Car,” and “Gasoline Alley.” The latter, by Frank King, is the only survivor of this group. [untrue — Joe’s Car continues as Joe Jinks]
Ullman Feature Service, which had several of the 14 other automobile features listed, proclaimed in an ad: “‘That Motor Car of Yours’ helps motorists with their parking, their driving and their tinkering.” It “stimulates interest in the mid-week automobile page” and had no “bothersome diagrams and technical talk,” according to the ad. Ullman said its four auto features were running in 200 newspapers.
Model-T readers (Ford’s Model A wasn’t introduced until 1927) were also to get a special aviation feature, courtesy of McClure and Chicago Tribune Newspaper Syndicate. It was the story of an around-the-world flight by U. S. Army aviators – a story at first denied newspapers by the Government.
With Lots of Love
“Love,” the lead title word in only two 1950 syndicated features, was a word 1924 syndicate people didn’t shy away from. “Love Letters of a Newspaper Man,” “Love Gossip,” “Love Immortalized in Song,” “Luxury of Love” and “Love or Fame?” were some of the titles.
But in women-voting, Prohibition 1924, there were big names and talents too. Frederick Opper’s broad political barbs were distributed by New York American Features, his “Happy Hooligan” strip by International Feature Service. Editorial cartoons with a gentler sting, by John T. McCutcheon, were offered by Chicago Tribune Newspaper Syndicate, J. N. “Ding” Darling was doing perceptive editorial cartoons for the New York Herald Tribune Syndicate, and cartoonist Clare Briggs’ effect on the language (“When a Feller Needs a Friend,” “Ain’t It a Grand and Glorious Feeling,” etc.) made him the subject of a full-page ad.
John Held, Jr. was doing a comic, about a long-waisted Jazz Age cutie for United Feature Syndicate. Famed “Tad” (Thomas A. Dorgan) who was adept at spotting and humorously depicting phonies was turning out “Indoor Sports” for International Feature Service. Machine Age burlesquer Rube Goldberg was busy. “Little Nemo,” by Winsor McCay, “The Gumps,” “Bringing Up Father” and “Mutt arid Jeff” were going strong.
Column’s Future Forecast
“Feature service of various sorts is new,” Hallam Walker Davis wrote in a book, “The Column,” which was published in 1926. “It has had the advantage of high-powered promotion. It is still riding on the crest of the first big wave its own splash sent out.”
But Mr. Davis did think that in a decade or two the newspapers might be promoting their columns along with their comic strips. The World had started the ball rolling with billboard advertising of Heywood Broun’s “It Seems to Me.”
The McNaught Syndicate was sitting pretty with O. O. McIntyre, Will Rogers and Irvin S. Cobb on its list. The New York Herald Tribune offered Don Marquis and Franklin P. Adams rhymed satirically in “The Conning Tower” for the New York World Syndicate. “A Line o’ Type Or Two,” Bert Leston Taylor’s verse column in the Chicago Tribune, was now being done by Richard Henry Little.
Other offerings: Humorous Sketches, by Damon Runyon; O.Henry Stories; Editorials by
Arthur Brisbane; Ring Lardner letter; “Rippling Rhymes,” by Walt Mason; literary articles by R. L. Mencken.
The 1924 syndicate directory listed 17 radio features, an auction bridge column, but no Canasta.