Monday, January 22, 2018


Obscurity of the Day: What a Family!

King Features liked to have an offering available to clients in every genre of comics. When Dudley Fisher's Right Around Home, a Sunday page that showed a birdseye view of a goofy family doing wacky stuff, showed some staying power in the nation's comics sections, King trotted out their interpretation, darn close to an exact copy. Debuting on September 8 1946, it was titled What a Family! and penned by magazine gag cartoonist Colin Allen.

The Sunday-only feature was very well done, starring a family named the Looneys who took the madcap antics of Right Around Home to a more zany level. However, apparently the birds-eye view genre didn't have a need for a me-too entry. I have never seen What a Family! running anywhere except in Hearst-owned papers, and then only in their less common tabloid sections, never in the flagship Puck section. Nevertheless, King kept it running for a comparatively long time, over eight years. Near the end of the run, Allen experimented with making it a more conventional strip, and lengthened the title to The Looneys --What a Family (see bottom sample), but that did nothing to entice clients. It was put out to pasture on October 9 1954.

A footnote is that in the early years of this feature Allen sometimes shared credit. On some pages you will find lurking in an unobtrusive corner the signatures of what I assume are ghosts, gag-writers, or assistants. I've seen the names of Jim Clark, Dewey Clark and B.I.P. taking their tiny bit of the spotlight.

Also, Cole Johnson, who provided some of the above samples, believed that gag cartoonist Colin Allen and black newspaper cartoonist Charles Allen were the same person. As Alex Jay will detail in the next couple of days, they were indeed two different fellows.


Comments: Post a Comment

Saturday, January 20, 2018


Herriman Saturday

June 12 1909 -- The actors playing in "Lonesome Town" and "Salvation Nell" put on an exhibition baseball game, and show that as ballplayers they make fine actors.


Comments: Post a Comment

Friday, January 19, 2018


Wish You Were Here, from 'Ges' ... by guest contributor Evan Schad

This lovely, although now politically-incorrect postcard, was copyrighted in 1908 by P. Gordon, and sports some nice artwork by an artist who signed himself only as "Ges". I don't know much about this guy, but he did other fantastic postcard work for this Gordon fellow. If anyone thinks they can ID this fella, please leave a comment below.

-- Evan Schad


Comments: Post a Comment

Thursday, January 18, 2018


King News by Moses Koenigsberg: Chapter 15 Part 3

 King News by Moses Koenigsberg

Published by F.A. Stokes Company, 1941

Chapter 15

  The Propaganda Plant (part 3)

link to previous installment   link to next installment

Halting bureaucratic encroachment on the freedom of the press and preventing the rape of the colored comic were exciting interludes between collisions with the legions of propaganda. My hardest fight was against American dupes of foreign espionage. It began with my investigation of the fake story of twenty-three mutilated children aboard a ship supposedly en route from a European port to Boston. Its culmination came a year after America’s entry into hostilities. It involved me in a predicament from which I was extricated by a federal-grand-jury report.

The persistent tales of atrocities perpetrated at the front on unnamed victims at unspecified places sustained my eagerness to ascertain and block the channels of their dissemination in America. Constant denunciation of the falsity of these yarns incurred growing resentment among my auditors. Most of them favored the oral orgy of horrors as a medium for whetting America’s appetite for war. Others suspected my motives. This controversial bitterness reached a climax at a patriotic rally. The meeting was held in the Friars Club. The “Monastery” halls had been opened for a gathering of volunteer salesmen of Liberty Bonds. Leo L. Redding, formerly managing editor of the New York Herald, presided. My attendance was accidental.

One of the speakers recounted a distressing circumstance of which he had learned only a few moments before. The female treasurer of the Seventy-seventh Street Theatre was summoned from her office that afternoon to meet a relative arriving from Europe. At the dock she found her sister on a stretcher. The stricken woman was returning from Red Cross service overseas. She was suffering the ravages of revolting torture. Her breasts had been hacked off. The outrage had been committed by German soldiers.

This was the quarry of a three years’ quest. I had stumbled on the first of the long series of fabrications with details sufficiently definite to check. The opportunity for an impressive refutation precipitated a miniature riot. My pretext for interrupting the session might have been more tactfully chosen. But tact was less desirable at the moment than emphasis. I protested against the use of the “Monastery” for the propagation of sinister, un-American influences by means of arrant falsehood.

Leo L. Redding was an energetic member of the American Protective League. That was the body of volunteers which earned the sanction of the United States Department of Justice for semi-official operation throughout the country as a counter-espionage corps. Redding was conscious of a distinctive brand of patriotism. He bore manfully the strain of a deportment cultivated to harmonize with his appearance. He behaved uniformly like the well-fed prelate for which he was commonly mistaken.

Redding rose valiantly to the defense of his chairmanship of the session in the Friars’ “Monastery.” He questioned both the propriety and the justice of my criticism. In the furious argument that followed, the anecdote of the Seventy-seventh Street Theatre treasurer was sidetracked by “gentlemen whose patriotism and good sense had been challenged.” They shifted the attack to my position. Did I deny that German soldiers were guilty of the inhumanities generally charged against them? “I believe that most of those stories are the products of German propaganda,” I answered. There was little friendliness for me in the uproar that followed. The din was dominated by a raucous noise too rhythmic in prolonged repetition to be ascribed to accident. It was that unmusical chorus then known as “the razz” and more popularly described later as “the Bronx cheer.” On that note, the meeting broke up in disorder.

At midnight, a messenger handed me a formal letter from Redding. A sense of fairness had impelled him to acquaint me with the course to which he was driven by his conscience. He was preparing a review of statements I had made publicly earlier in the evening. He hoped I could and would satisfy him that it was not his duty to present the report to the Department of Justice. For my convenience, he would defer further action for forty-eight hours. At first, my annoyance was matched by amusement. But reflection called up probabilities of grave embarrassments.

Providence interposed a dramatic coincidence to convert my discomfiture into triumph. Official confirmation was given to my three years’ suspicion of a conspiracy to confound American morale. It enabled me to turn Redding’s threat into a boomerang. Several excerpts from my reply follow:

Your notice that you intend to direct to the attention of the Department of Justice certain assertions which I made at the meeting that you conducted last night was evidently prompted by gross misconception of the facts. The need for exculpation falls on you, not me. . . .

It has been my conviction that confusion of the issues would not only detract from the high purposes for which we are fighting, but would also imperil the solidarity of our people. The resolution to secure our national safety must not be diverted to other objectives. The will for vengeance must not obscure the will to conquer. Placation of one might enfeeble the other.

On many occasions prior to last night I had heard stories of mutilated women and children brought here from Belgium. In the course of my regular duties, I investigated these reports with vigor and thoroughness. In every instance the yarn proved groundless. So much for my denunciation of the falsity of these fakes.

As for my charge that either the countenancing or the circulation of the rumors was un-American and unpatriotic—I here renew that charge. And I cite judicial approval of my accusation in the pronouncement of United States District Judge Augustus N. Hand on the findings of the United States Grand Jury for the Southern District of New York. I refer you to page 8 of the New York Times of this morning [May 10, 1918]. When you have studied that account of the proceedings in the United States District Court you should entertain no further doubt about the duty concerning which your letter indicated a desire to consult me.

Judge Hand had instructed the grand jurors “to inquire into an extensively organized ‘whispering propaganda’ that was working widespread mischief.” The most interesting witness examined was Dr. Emma B. Culbertson, senior surgeon of the New England College for Women and Children at Boston. She was questioned about a statement she had made openly during a visit to Vassar College. She admitted having said that “it was a matter of common knowledge that two hundred beds had been reserved in the Sloane Maternity Hospital in New York City for Red Cross nurses who were returning from France and expecting confinement.”

The total absence of a basis for this statement having been established, Doctor Culbertson’s innocence of any sinister design was inscribed in the jurors’ minutes. But the piece of gossip she retailed was used by the inquisitorial panel as a central illustration of its labors. Judge Hand dwelt on it in his comments. “Undoubtedly rumors of this kind emanated from sources engaged in deliberate and unfriendly propaganda,” he said, “the purpose being to create dissension among the people of America as well as to frighten women so that they will not enter the overseas nursing service.”

In his digest of the grand jury’s deliberations, the foreman, Dr. W. deS. Trenholm, reviewed bogus tales of inhumanity, attributing their circulation to Teutonic military agencies. . . .

“Another story, which is also German propaganda,” ran one passage, “involved the mutilation and outraging of two young Belgian women. This was also found to be false from beginning to end.”

It was at the instance of the United States government, Judge Hand announced, that this exposure of whispering propaganda was undertaken, in order “to make the falsity and viciousness a matter of court record.” Yet the weightiest implication of that record has been generally overlooked. Either it escaped the cognizance of historians of the period or it was elided in their preoccupation with theories of Allied ineptitude. Phenomena of a Teutonic conception of master strategy were mistaken for evidences of British stupidity. It seemed logical to assume the obtundity of English propagandists fabricating tales of German atrocities. It seemed illogical to conjecture the diabolism of the Germans themselves concocting such stories.

The chronicle of America’s introduction to schrecklichkeit as an instrument of military preparation is yet to be compiled in the amplitude that it deserves. That campaign of terrorism and intimidation registered one of the most signal blunders of German psychology. Its history, however, cannot be completed until, in the detachment of time, may be observed how fully it stenciled the pattern of events a quarter of a century later—in 1940-41.

Leo L. Redding was not the only member of the American Protective League who considered the advisability of urging the Department of Justice to take me in hand as a war-time precaution. My active support of the organization failed for a while to quell the suspicions of several of its over-zealous workers. One of the gravest allegations lodged against me was “the maintenance of secret relations with W. R. Hearst.” Confidential word of this damning charge came from Brett Page, make-up editor of the daily magazine page of Newspaper Feature Service. The accusation had been filed with the branch or committee of the American Protective League to which he belonged.

Page was an unusual person. Author of a voluminous and authoritative work on vaudeville, he preferred philosophy to the theatre. His personal loyalty was measureless. After peace was declared, Page ascertained and revealed to me the identity of my accuser. He was the operator of a string of theatres in Iowa. He nursed a grievance against me. I had refused to enter into a contract for a syndicate feature with his protégé, Byron R. Gay, a song writer. Gay was unaware of his sponsor’s effort at reprisal.

Despite its absurdity, the complaint nettled me. It was at the height of a country-wide series of attacks on Hearst. Denounced by countless enemies in print and speech as pro-German, he was again and again burned in effigy in various cities. Copies of his newspapers were gathered at public places in different states from time to time and piled on bonfires. His conspicuously effective championship of defense programs, especially the compulsory service law, did not abate the fury of his vilifiers.

With a pretense of whimsicality that did not hide a feeling of petulance, I told Hearst that “the American Protective League had me on the grill.” He laughed. “What is the matter?” he asked banteringly. “Can’t you stand an investigation?” Then, with a mischievous smile, he added, “I just love to be investigated.”

That was a boast without reservation. No man had a keener sense of publicity value than Hearst. He approved the judgment of the theatrical ham who rated “a bad notice better than no notice.” But unlike the actor, he could and did turn adverse mention to immediate account. He welcomed attack. It was a pretext for the expression of his greatest talent. No publicist of his generation surpassed him in polemic writing.

Hearst had been informed that a special staff of lawyers were regularly engaged in sedulous scrutiny of all of his newspapers and of the Chicago Tribune. They were working under the direction of the Attorney General of the United States, Thomas W. Gregory. They were looking for evidence of seditious utterance. The fact of these labors hung like a pall over Hearst’s chief lieutenants. The trepidation of his executive staff—often on the brink of anguish—continued until the closing months of the war, when the certainty of Allied success became too apparent for intelligent denial.

The menace of inimical action by governmental agencies left Hearst undaunted. He remained impervious to the violent strictures of a large section of the press. Only when convinced that there was imminent hazard of an explosion of public anger did he make any concessions to those of his advisers who assumed to caution him. Then he, himself, evolved and directed devices to retain the confidence of his followers and to allay hostile agitation. He strewed the columns and margins of his newspapers with copies of the American flag. At the same time, he multiplied the number—enlarging the space and quickening the pace —of editorial articles pronouncing the ultra-Americanism of his publications.

During the sixth month of America’s participation in the war, on October 17, 1917, the New York American, together with other Hearst morning papers, published an editorial leader under the heading, “Spies and Intrigues Have Done Germany as Much Harm as the Allies’ Armies.” It contained these paragraphs:

To be sure, the German government was a benevolent despotism inaugurating many of the popular benefits which our government and other democratic and semi-democratic governments have since adopted. . . .

Germany, deprived of its autocratic government and delivered over to the democratic rule of its people, would be just as little a menace to the peace and progress of the world as Russia is, since it has been democratized, and just as effective a force for progress and for the promotion and protection of the white man’s civilization as any other nation.

Satire attained a pinnacle in the 1941 recitation of these lines from the Hearst newspapers of 1917. There is grim comedy enough in recalling the mid-war investiture of the German nation with virtues rivaling those of our own people. But Hearst, himself, must smile at the laudatory phrases linking Russia with Germany. And the smile must grow to a laugh over the tribute to “just as effective a force” to preserve the white man’s culture “as any other nation.” Here the Muses conjure a scene in which Hearst belabors Hitler and Stalin with slapstick and bladder.

“Packed with dynamite,” the essay sent a tremor through the Hearst entourage. Two days later, the name of W. R. Hearst was substituted for that of S. S. Carvalho at the masthead of the New York American, as president of Star Company, the publishing corporation. It is doubtful that as many as one out of a hundred readers noted the change. Yet it masked a sensational crisis in the Hearst establishment. Carvalho, the general manager, had resigned. After striving faithfully for twenty years to serve as his employer’s alter ego, his liege homage was riven by the editorial of October 17th.

Carvalho’s resignation was due almost as much to the commentator as the commentary. The offender was Philip Francis. That firebrand had long before overtaxed the general manager’s sense of responsibility. This offense was the last straw. His aggressive partiality for the Germans was not the only irritant with which Francis besprinkled the Hearst staff. His Anglophobia was violent enough to suggest either a psychopathic case or an ulterior design. The latter theory was advanced in a sensational lawsuit in which he figured in the early ’20s.

A pretentious banquet was tendered Francis at the Astor Hotel on his retirement from the Hearst organization in December, 1921. Among the speakers were Samuel Untermyer, Amos Pinchot, United States Senators Norris of Nebraska, Reed of Missouri and France of Maryland, with several federal dignitaries. Robert F. Wagner, afterward United States Senator, Frank P. Walsh, Prof. Robert Morss Lovett, and Oswald Garrison Villard were listed as sponsors. Some months thereafter Francis appeared in a new role. He was president of the Sinaloa Exploration and Development Company. It owned mining claims and concessions in Mexico. Reportedly, these properties expressed the gratitude of President Obregon for writings by Francis published in the Hearst newspapers. The public bought more than $750,000 worth of the stock.

The Sinaloa Company produced little if any mineral, but lots of scandal. Paul Jones, who thitherto had been attorney for both Francis and the corporation, led a stockholders’ attack on the president. One of his public statements in March, 1924, showed that Francis continued to write for Hearst after his resignation. It asserted that “the game Francis is playing ... is of a piece with his attempt last October to turn the resentment of Irish citizens of New York toward England to the account of the so-called non-partisan ticket ... by alleging in an editorial which Francis wrote for the New York American that ‘the sale of glucose by Charles F. Murphy to England was for use in her warfare against the Irish in their spirited fight for liberty.’ . . . That very editorial is now the subject of a libel suit for $1,000,000 brought by Murphy against the Hearst newspapers. . . . Now finding that the rich mining properties represented to be worth $4,564,131 have shrunk in value to a few thousand dollars, a considerable number of shareholders declare themselves to be the victims of a skilful confidence game.”

In a suit filed later against Gertrude Corless and the Sinaloa Company by Annie O’Keefe, Alice Gregory and Loretta Shaughnessy, it was charged:

That as chief editorial writer for the New York American and other Hearst newspapers, Francis wrote a number of articles making out a strong case for the recognition of the Republic of Mexico by our government. During the same period he made out an equally strong case for the recognition of the Irish Republic by the government of the United States.

That his intended appeal to the citizens of Irish birth and ancestry for subscriptions to the stock of the defendant company might have a double-barreled effect, he appointed the defendant Corless his private secretary and put her in charge of the company’s office in New York. This, because the defendant, Corless, some time prior . . . headed a delegation of women to Washington in 1916 that paraded in front of the British Embassy with black flags. This performance resulted in her arrest with some of her associates. That arrest made her a “martyr” and established her popularity among the Irish in these parts. . . .

Circular letters were then sent out to the class of citizens referred to. They contained sketches of Francis’ life with a statement from him to prospective stockholders. He declared he was not satisfied with what he had done for the Irish in the columns of the New York American. He desired to serve them in a more practical way by giving them the first opportunity to invest their money in his company, which would bring them . . . fabulous profits. ... His representations were believed largely because of the position he occupied with the Hearst organization.

. . . Probably a considerably greater amount of stock would have been sold if the postal authorities had not stepped in . . . and begun an investigation with a view to ascertaining whether the mails were used for fraudulent purposes. Just as the investigation was reaching its end . . . Francis went to his old home in Oakland, Cal., in October, 1924, and his death was reported on November 1, 1924.

On September 26, 1925, William P. Barry, as president, and James Drury, as secretary, issued a statement to the Sinaloa stockholders. “Testifying before the Chancellor of the State of Delaware on May 18, 1925,” it related, “Gertrude Corless swore that the number of shares owned by Francis was 300. . . . The assets [of the Francis estate] as shown by the report of the appraisers filed with the Clerk of the Superior Court of California, Alameda County, consisted of Certificate No. 2030 of the Sinaloa Exploration and Development Company for 24,098 shares. When was this Certificate No. 2030 issued to Philip Francis? It must have been after May 18, 1925, the date of Gertrude Corless’ testimony. This, therefore, brings up the question: is Philip Francis really dead?”

It would have been petty malice to extract satisfaction from the exposure of Francis’ shady operations as a stock promoter. It did justify my distrust of the man as a writer. But it also brought some pangs. It left an ugly blotch where a fine journalistic talent should have inscribed a shining mark. At the same time, it caused a disquieting doubt about W. R. Hearst’s judgment of aides in whom he reposed great confidence. All that would have been bad enough without the denouement that enveloped Philip Francis’ name in even a darker shadow.

Pursuing the rumor that he might still be alive, Francis’ career was traced from his infancy in New York to the mortuary records in California. There were several hazy, unconnected periods in a highly adventurous life, including a boyhood in Ohio with a father vaguely described as a minister, a printer’s job with admission to the bar in Michigan, the post of State Archeologist of Montana, a trip to Alaska during the gold rush as captain of a boat, with his wife, a job on United States Senator George R. Hearst’s San Francisco Examiner, acquaintance with Bret Harte and Ambrose Bierce, editorship of the Stockton (Cal.) Mail and finally the limelight decade from 1914 to 1924, already recounted. This biography fitted into the matrix of Francis’ personality. But it clashed with an inscription on his burial permit.

The Bureau of Vital Statistics of the California State Board of Health certified that Philip Francis was born a Diefendorf. Why he changed his name was never learned by the investigators. His widow, Mrs. Elizabeth Hanmore Francis, living at 3030 Bona Street, in Oakland, was repeatedly questioned. She repelled all inquiries. She vowed to “take the truth with her to the grave.”

There is a proud family of Diefendorfs in New York State. They maintain a family tree as a contribution to history. It shows that Sanders Diefendorf of Minton, N. Y., married Mary Esther Taylor of Cazenovia. Those were the parents of Philip Francis, according to the data supplied to the California State Board of Health by his widow. But no Diefendorf was found to shed any light on Francis’ hidden past. The mystery—hitherto unprinted— lapses to minor importance until its relationship to a large section of the reading public is considered.

What would have happened if, during the First World War, it was discovered that the most powerful editorials appearing in the American press in favor of Germany were written by a man who called himself Philip Francis but whose undisclosed name was Diefendorf? What would have been the effect of this revelation on the Hearst newspapers?


Comments: Post a Comment

Wednesday, January 17, 2018


Obscurity of the Day: Seatless Sam, The Subway Gink

Here's a great strip that Clare Victor "Dwig" Dwiggins did for the New York Evening World. The weekday strip started on October 24 1911 under the title of Seatless Sam, the Subway Gink, then on November 21 changed to Sammy and the Subway - The Quest of a Seat. The series ran until December 28 1911.

This was the heyday of the New York evening papers, when strips came and went at the whim of the creators, and ephemeral subjects and matters specific to New York City were embraced rather than shunned. Later these newspapers would realize that strips with local content could not be successfully syndicated.

Dwig always turns in delightful material, but I especially like this strip, specifically the part of the series in which Sammy is girl-hunting on the subway (top two examples). I love it that Dwig gave such wonderful smart droll dialogue to those girls. In those days beautiful girls were almost always either portrayed as demure debs or gum-chewing airheads. I suspect any attractive girl riding the subway in those days had better be in the tough Dwig mold, not a china doll, to hold her own.


Even in those days, the IRT and the BRT (later the BMT) were known for being very noisy and crowded (see, for example, the description of the subway in P.G. Wodehouse's novel "Psmith Journalist," set in New York right about this time). Finding a seat on the subway would have been difficult, indeed, and something readers would have related to, easily. The World's headquarters on Park Row was scant yards from the very first station opened, near City Hall.
Post a Comment

Tuesday, January 16, 2018


Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Tom Doerer

Thomas Alvin “Tom” Doerer was born in Baltimore, Maryland, on July 27, 1889. The birthdate is from the Social Security Death Index. The 1900 U.S. Federal Census recorded the month and year as July 1889. However, his World World War draft card had the year 1888 while the second World World War card had 1892. Both cards had his birthplace.

In the 1900 census, Doerer was the oldest of five children born to Frank, a city fireman, and Annie, an English emigrant. They resided in Baltimore at 111 North Durham Street.

Doerer’s early newspaper career was described in an Associated Press article published in the Kansas City Times, January 1, 1968.

Cartoonist Tom Doerer…began his newspaper career as a copy boy for the famed writer, H. L. Mencken…. “I had a front page cartoon in the old Baltimore World when I was 10, and I worked for Mencken a couple of years later at the Baltimore Herald,” Doerer said. “He arranged a scholarship for me at the Maryland Institute.” Doerer’s first fulltime newspaper job was a retoucher for the Baltimore American. He later became assistant sports editor of the American, held a similar job at the Baltimore Evening Sun and then became sports editor of the Baltimore Post.
The 1907 Baltimore city directory listed Doerer at 1431 Milton Avenue. He worked at the Baltimore American. Directories for 1908 and 1909 said Doerer was an artist who resided at 2419 East Hoffman.

According to the 1910 census, newspaper cartoonist Doerer and his wife Minna resided in Baltimore at 2512 East Hoffman Street. The couple had been married a year and were part of his father’s household which included Doerer’s four sisters. A family tree at said Doerer’s mother died in 1910 before the census enumeration in April.

Baltimore directories from 1911 and 1914 said Artist Doerer lived at 2229 East Preston. At some point Doerer moved to Lancaster, Pennsyulvania.

The Fourth Estate, May 13, 1916, noted Doerer’s previous whereabouts.

Tom Doerer, formerly of the old Philadelphia Times and Boston Traveler and lately with a Baltimore feature syndicate, has succeeded the late Harry H. Hensel as cartoonist on the Intelligencer. Mr. Hensel was retired under the Intelligencer’s pension system about a month ago and died shortly afterward.
Editor & Publisher, January 27, 1917, reported Doerer’s venture into publishing. “Thomas A. Doerer, formerly cartoonist on the Baltimore American, and R. G. Register, of the Lancaster (Pa.) Intelligencer, have established a monthly magazine called the Jinx at Lancaster.”

Editor & Publisher’s series, “Little Tragedies of a Newspaper Office”, included Doerer in its October 13, 1917 issue.

Intelligencer cartoonist Doerer signed his World War I draft card on June 5, 1917. He and his wife had three children and they lived at R #4 in Lancaster. Doerer was described as medium height and build with gray eyes and black hair.

Cartoons Magazine, May 1918, published Doerer’s cartoon (page 712) of Robert Carter who died recently.

American Newspaper Comics (2012) said Doerer drew Daffy-Dinks, from May 14 to November 22, 1919, for the Lancaster Semi-Weekly Intelligencer.

Doerer’s fourth child was counted in the 1920 census. Doerer continued as a cartoonist with the Intelligencer.

Doerer produced artwork for the 1920 Franklin and Marshall College yearbook, The Oriflamme. The Lancaster school publication was printed by the Commercial Printing House of Lancaster. The 1921 Lancaster directory listed Doerer as a “printer”.

Doerer made his new home in Baltimore, Maryland. The 1922 Baltimore directory said he lived at 20 Midship Road, Dundalk, and worked at The Sun newspaper. In 1924 Doerer was at 270 St. Helena Avenue.

Doerer was back in Lancaster, according to a 1927 directory listing, at 751 South Marshall. He was a cartoonist with the New Era Publishing Corporation.

The 1930 census recorded Doerer in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, at 711 Edgemore Road. The advertising artist had nine children.

Doerer was listed in 1934 and 1938 Washington, DC city directories.

Popular Mechanics, April 1937, published this classified advertisement. 

LEARN Modern cartooning — Tom Doerer method — individually taught by recognized master. First lesson free. Send 6c postage only. National Arts Guild, Dept. B, Washington, D.C.
The 1940 census said Doerer’s home was in Baltimore at 2321 Lafayette Avenue. The household included nine children although the two oldest ones had moved out. Doerer was a newspaper artist and writer.

On April 25, 1942, Doerer signed his World War II draft card. His address was unchanged and his employer was Leon Golnick of the Golnick Advertising Agency.

A 1958 Baltimore directory said Doerer lived at 912 East 36tth and was the Baltimore News-Post promotion manager.

Doerer passed away September 21, 1972, in Baltimore. He was laid to rest at Most Holy Redeemer Cemetery. The Kansas City Times said Doerer retired December 30, 1967 from the Baltimore News American and “had worked on newspapers in Philadelphia, Washington, Boston, Elizabeth, N. J., Richmond, Va., and Lancaster, Pa.” Some of Doerer’s original art can be seen herehere and here

—Alex Jay


Comments: Post a Comment

Monday, January 15, 2018


Obscurity of the Day: Daffy-Dinks

Daffy-Dinks was a local strip drawn for the Lancaster (PA) Semi-Weekly Intelligencer by Tom Doerer. The pun-filled strip ran there from May 14 to November 22 1919.

Many of the puns in Daffy-Dinks are based on the names of local businessmen. This may seem an odd subject for gags in a comic strip, but small local papers like the Intelligencer were often looking for excuses to mention people in the community. It was good business because those people would invariably buy the paper, perhaps even multiple copies, to see their names in print. More importantly, though, businesspeople got mentions in hopes that they would in return place advertising in the paper. Doerer's Daffy-Dinks is by no means unusual in that many cartoonists were tasked with putting local people's names in their cartoons, but it certainly was unusual in making them the subject of some of the most excruciatingly bad puns you'll ever encounter.


Love the "loose", confident style shown here.
Any idea what kind of bugs these are supposed to be?
Eagerly awaiting Jay's profile, Doerer looks quite accomplished by this time.

Post a Comment

Saturday, January 13, 2018


Herriman Saturday

June 8 1909 -- LA is loosening up on the liquor laws by allowing for wine with meals in restaurants. But what constitutes a bona fide meal? Cops are becoming gourmands in search of the answer.


Comments: Post a Comment

Friday, January 12, 2018


Wish You Were Here, from Harris H. Brown ... by guest contributor Evan Schad

This unique card was copyrighted in 1906 by A.C.C. (Art Color Co., Philadelphia), and wonderfully drawn by Harris H. Brown (artist of Willie Green for the Philadelphia Record). There's a tiny "HHB" signature on the card near the edge of the border on the right-hand side. I ID'd him years ago when I saw other cards signed by the same artist, and noticed a similar signature on one of the sample Willie Green strips posted here on Stripper's Guide.

Judging by the "Atlantic City" text placed on the card, I'd say that this was sold with other comic cards with this same color scheme at the Boardwalk at Atlantic City, NJ.

-- Evan Schad


Comments: Post a Comment

Thursday, January 11, 2018


King News by Moses Koenigsberg: Chapter 15 Part 2

 King News by Moses Koenigsberg

Published by F.A. Stokes Company, 1941

Chapter 15

  The Propaganda Plant (part 2)

link to previous installment   link to next installment

There was a profusion of nettles for one traveling alongside the Hearst trail in the early stages of the First World War. The most pernicious thorns bristled from the pen of Philip Francis. He was the writer of editorial leaders for the Hearst morning papers from 1914 to 1921. During those seven years, he sat next to the throne. He was a stormy petrel. Yet no other lieutenant exerted a more noticeable influence on Hearst’s political policies. He seemed to hold not only the complete confidence but the affectionate regard of his employer. Hearst showed this on one occasion to my discomfort.

Sinn Feiners vociferous in promotion of an Irish republic and professional patriots of every sort, including revolutionists from Russia, Latin America, the Levant and the dark corners of Europe, flocked around Francis. He posed as a champion of oppressed countries—a Simon Bolivar at the typewriter. Short and squat, with a swarthy complexion, protuberant eyes and saltant gait, he was not prepossessing. Meeting him stirred self-reproach for keeping in mind the picture of a giant toad.

No matter how much I might have struggled to entertain a comradely disposition toward Francis, it would have been wrecked by his editorials on the World War. My abhorrence for Prussian militarism approached the nature of an obsession. It had been implanted in my childhood. It was like a personal estate. So Francis’ predictions of German victory kept us at arm’s length. An open clash with him followed a full-page spread that appeared in Hearst newspapers of November 23, 1916. It was a broadside with a twenty-five-year echo—a blast of Homeric mockery in which we may espy the silhouette of Lindbergh accepting a torch from Francis in a prophet’s relay.

In the mold of a patriotic exhortation for preparedness, Francis had disposed of the greatest of all military conflicts at the halfway mark. This left him free to marshal powerful arguments against loans or credits to the Allies. “The Teutonic powers are winning the war,” the ponderous screed proclaimed. “The genius of Hindenburg has triumphed. That wonderful old man, who now looms up as the greatest of living soldiers, among the greatest of soldiers living or dead, has altered the whole face of the war in eight short weeks. The Allies are beaten.”

From this tribute to Germany’s transcendent hero, the editorial turned to Germany’s transcendent destiny. “If there is anything certain in forecasting the future,” it ran on, “we are going to have to face after peace, a victorious, hugely powerful, enormously equipped and angrily resentful Germany, with Europe in the hollow of her mailed hand and with Russia either bound to her will with chains or with ties of amity and alliance. It is our own fault that ... the pettifogging of our Department of State, and the amazing folly, childish credulity and vulgar vituperation of a large part of our press and a number of our public men have alone been the instruments in changing the steadfast and admiring friendship of Germany and Austria-Hungary into a sullen and vengeful hostility.”

My displeasure over this diatribe was sharpened by word that German authorities had provided for its translation into forty-odd languages and for the distribution of a hundred million imprints. The facts were like smoldering embers in my mind when I next saw Francis. We met in the library of W. R. Hearst’s Riverside Drive apartment. A stickler for niceties would not have approved the conversation. Beginning with a challenge of Francis’ knowledge of military affairs, it touched on patriotism, loyalty and lineage. Francis was especially vigorous in claiming the background of seven American generations.

The entrance of W. R. Hearst interrupted our colloquy. Maybe Hearst thought we were going into a dance. The bunny hug was popular at the time. Hearst put his arm around Francis and led him away. Francis was expostulating. George Thompson, Hearst’s valet, watched from a balcony overhead. Five feet two, roly-poly, with fringes of red hair setting off his ivory baldness, Thompson was as much a major-domo as a body-servant. He was truly clairvoyant in his master’s intimacies. A moment after Hearst and Francis had withdrawn, George Thompson told me “Your appointment has been canceled.” That should have been convincing enough proof of the high preference in which the court favorite basked. Other instances were to follow. All contributed to the enigma of a death certificate that several years later sealed the name of Philip Francis in one of the unsolved mysteries of the Hearst organization. The story unfolds itself in subsequent pages.

The initial momentum of King Features Syndicate carried it through the growing war menaces of 1916. The progress of Newspaper Feature Service also continued, despite the gathering storm. But as America approached a state of belligerence, my professional enthusiasms fell under the questioning of a troubled mind. The same urge that drove me into the volunteer army of 1898 was again pressing upon me. Now, however, the path of duty was not so plainly marked.

Time had entrusted me with potentialities that transformed my capacity for service. Journalistic resources committed to my keeping could be more efficiently marshaled for national victory than any field force the leadership of which I might reasonably expect to attain. The sounding, maintaining and stimulating of morale could be organized into a military effectiveness. No matter how meager were the final results, the merit of this reasoning was to be confirmed by the logic of events.

My first skirmish on the home front was with George Creel, Chairman of the Committee on Public Information. It had been generally assumed that he would surround himself with seasoned journalists. A considerable number of his selections irritated members of the Fourth Estate. He chose quite a few committeemen with newspaper experience of the next-door or across-the-hall variety—advertising, circulation and promotion workers.

Perhaps I went to our meeting handicapped with a prejudice. My Denver friends, Frederick G. Bonfils and Harry H. Tammen, owners of the Denver Post and the Kansas City Post and at one time employers of Creel, had painted him to me in an unfavorable light. They were especially critical of his conduct as Bonfils’ companion on a trip to Africa. Bonfils undertook the journey to the tropic jungles to meet former President Theodore Roosevelt and persuade him to run for the presidency in 1912. The stunt was a grandstand performance to promote the Denver Post. It was not judicious to accept without reserve the Bonfils and Tammen version of a private controversy. But my parley with Creel prompted the thought that, for once, the Denver partners might have landed on the right side of a quarrel.

It was proposed to the chairman of the Committee on Public Information to place at his disposal the facilities of the two syndicates under my management. In addition, cartoons and articles, of a number subject to agreement, would be devised and distributed without effort or expense on the committee’s part. The engagement would lay on Creel one requirement. He must put himself on record as earnestly supporting the demand for an unreserved declaration of newsprint as a wartime essential. In the 1940-41 regulations, that would have meant setting a fixed priority. It would spell official assurance of shipping space for the paper to be consumed in the publication of newspapers.

Creel’s answer convinced me there were many men better fitted for the post he held. It contained no allusion to newsprint. “We have made a thorough survey of syndication,” he said. “We have examined it from every angle and we find that it will not serve our purposes.” The hand that the chairman of the Committee on Public Information extended as I turned to leave was ignored. “If you believe you have made a thorough survey of the processes of syndication,” he was told, “you are utterly mistaken. It happens that such an investigation could not have been made with any degree of completeness without reaching my attention.”

Acceptance of my proposal would have greatly advanced cooperative relations between Creel and a considerable section of the newspaper fraternity. His failure to earn the favor of a larger number of publishers was regrettable. But it was no more depressing than the shyster methods with which some of them attempted to translate war conditions into the disadvantage of competitors. Most of the schemes were ingenious. In the main, they were twofold. First, the field of interest in which a successful rival held leadership was to be discredited. Then a supply of newsprint was to be withheld equal to the quantity represented in that leadership. And all these pleasant artifices were presented as patriotic measures.

An example was the movement to eliminate classified advertising for the duration of hostilities. It was skillfully camouflaged. Tabulated reports were analyzed in an effort to show how central bureaus—civic auxiliaries of the army compiling directories of lodgings, vacancies, undrafted personnel and similar data— would minimize the usefulness of the want ad. This was specious enough to color the claim that here was a model illustration of how to make great savings of tonnage for military purposes at the least public inconvenience.

The idea seems to have first found expression in Philadelphia. There was no need to mention that the Philadelphia Inquirer had long since outdistanced its morning contemporaries in small ads; that premiership in this sphere, as in other departments of newspaper success, was more dependent on habit than any other factor; and that, once lost, it would be recoverable only in a competition in which all the entrants could start from scratch. This ruse to liquidate supremacy in classified advertising got no farther than the more audacious though not so well reasoned maneuver to equalize circulation by limiting the size of headline type. One of the postulates of this notion was that such part of a heading as extended beyond 72 points—one inch—was sheer waste.

The strongest and the most aggressive campaign to employ wartime regulations for the discomfiture of newspaper rivals was directed against the colored comic. Of course, the gentlemen who formulated the strategies of this undertaking may claim that they were inspired only by patriotic motives and publishing considerations. What actually happened remains more significant than any interpretation they may choose to offer.

It would have been idle in 1917 to dispute the preeminence of the Hearst “funnies.” In metropolitan competition, the New York World and the Chicago Tribune Sunday comics trailed along together far behind the leader. By syndication standards— in number of newspaper outlets of distribution apart from total circulation—the Newspaper Feature Service pages ranked ahead of both the New York World and the Chicago Tribune sections. This was the state of colored comic affairs when F. B. Knapp, manager of the New York World syndicate, visited me on a formal errand.

Knapp made it clear that his call was in behalf of both the New York World and the Chicago Tribune. The two publications had agreed to proceed together in a program of patriotic sacrifice. They purposed to decrease the consumption of newsprint in the United States by many thousands of tons. The aim was to save 50 percent of the stock used for comic supplements by printing the pages in half-size. My cooperation was requested. Without it, Knapp said frankly, the project might fail. The adherence of a large majority of Sunday publishers was requisite for success. Defeat was certain if I held the ready-print clients of Newspaper Feature Service in line against the step.

To cut in two the most conspicuous part of the Sunday newspaper would be a radical departure. If the New York World and the Chicago Tribune were bent so eagerly on an act of heroic abnegation, why did they pause for my assistance? Why didn’t each of them set an example for others to follow without asking for the aid or consent of anyone? Knapp had said success or failure depended on the course to be taken by Newspaper Feature Service. Success or failure at what—saving newsprint or depreciating the colored comic?

The garb of patriotism covering this proposal needed a dry cleaning. It was questionable whether the mathematics of the scheme would hold water. If all the “funnies” in the country were halved, the resultant conservation would total little more than one percent of the white paper consumed. And that boon would be offset by the bane of fiscal dislocations through wage shrinkages. The shadow of guile loomed behind the seemingly gallant gesture of the New York World and Chicago Tribune.

A cunning design became discernible. The power of an instrument of popularity may be fixed by the volume of its application. The smaller the space a feature occupied, the less would be its pull. Slashing the comic supplement in two could be calculated to make a corresponding split in its potency. The Hearst leadership would thus be crippled to that extent.

Those in the rear of the procession would lose nothing. Their relative positions would remain the same. Indeed, they might find greater advantage in the abolishment than in the mere belittlement of the “funnies” until the end of hostilities. Then, before peace was restored, a realignment of competitive resources might be effected. Much of this fine-spun ratiocination received ironic endorsement in the tabloid which arrived a few years afterward. The newcomer proved that a half-size could be extremely successful—at half price.

My refusal to chop down the “funnies” had evidently been anticipated. I felt that Knapp secretly sympathized with my stand. He notified me that the Chicago Tribune would not abandon its purpose. He understood that it would go over my head in an endeavor to convert my customers to its will. Two days later, he reported that the Chicago Tribune was sending “a call to duty” to all the publishers of comic sections in the United States. It was a broadside of five hundred telegrams. It was an appeal for “comradeship in a patriotic measure.” It included an astonishing proposition. The Chicago Tribune offered to bear the financial burden of installing the change it recommended. It would make the necessary engravings and matrices at its own expense for any publisher so desiring. But even that striking exhibition of altruism failed to move a single client of Newspaper Feature Service. Possibly the generosity of the proposal brought under suspicion the high idealism which professedly inspired it.

Up to that point, the battle had been in the open with legitimate weapons. Then came an attack from behind. A bureau of the United States government joined the opposing forces. A letter reached me on the stationery of the War Industries Board. It was signed by Thomas Elliott Donnelly, Newsprint Controller. It purported to be written “in the national interest.” It was plainly a circular communication. It advised publishers to lessen the demand for tonnage by decreasing the dimensions of comic sections. A reduction of 50 percent was suggested.

My capacity for righteous indignation has been a source of satisfaction. But it was taxed to the limit by Donnelly’s brazen message. It was no longer only the colored comic for which I must fight. Here was a bureaucratic attempt to stifle the freedom of the press. There was no question of federal authority in wartime to limit the cargoes deliverable to civilians. But if only an ounce of newsprint reached a publisher, he must enjoy perfect liberty to make whatever use of it he might elect. To restrict the quantity of white paper usable in one part of a newspaper was an assumption of the power to apportion the amounts allowable for the rest of the publication. The thought was intolerable.

Herbert Bayard Swope
The Newsprint Controller was a Chicagoan. It might be wholly unwarranted to deduce that his action was responsive to the wishes of the Chicago Tribune. But the coincidence was at least remarkable. It drew added significance from the fact that Donnelly was an associate of Herbert Bayard Swope, assistant chairman of the War Industries Board. Swope had been appointed to his post from the staff of the New York World. He maintained an affiliation with that newspaper for a number of years, serving as its executive editor after the war.

Throughout his coruscating career, Swope has shown a rare zest for manipulating men and affairs. My earliest meeting with him was in the ’90s in St. Louis. There, his reputation was long tied to the memory of the first pair of spats worn by a Missouri journalist. The spats did a lot to distinguish him in those days, though in later years they struck a minor note in the verve of Swope’s ensemble. Herbert evinced a keen curiosity when he saw me in Washington outside Donnelly’s office. His concern about my mission became quickly enveloped in a grinning reticence. In the next few hours, he passed me several times. His growing amusement was not fully hidden. At seven o’clock I stopped him. “If I leave tonight without seeing Donnelly,” I announced, “I’ll go to President Wilson tomorrow.” Swope shrugged. But Donnelly presented himself shortly thereafter.

The Newsprint Controller was astonishingly acquiescent. He agreed that the War Industries Board possessed no legal right to determine what matter should appear in or be omitted from any newspaper. By the same token, it was unauthorized to apportion to any part of his publication a publisher’s quota of printing stock. Donnelly admitted “the possibility” that, because of the letterhead on which it was written, his communication “might be misconstrued” by some of the recipients as having the force of a governmental direction. He promised to sign a specific denial of such meaning. The document would be handed to me the next day.

Rudolph Block aka Bruno Lessing
Meanwhile, before tackling official Washington, it had seemed proper for me to apprise W. R. Hearst of the facts. He might care to take a hand in the game. He wanted not only one but a number of hands. He would furnish all the help I needed. He would instruct W. A. DeFord, chief of his legal staff, to join me at once. Other of his lieutenants would follow without delay. My protest must be pressed to a quick decision. With DeFord came Rudolph Block, editor of the Hearst comics and more widely known as Bruno Lessing, author of a notable series of farcical yarns, among them the Lapidowitz series.

The choice of Block for this assignment was typically Hearstian. The humorist was known to his employer as a master of personal intrigue. No breastwork against a tyrannical usurpation of power could be built out of Bruno Lessing’s comedy; but Rudolph Block’s aptitude for phenagling should match any tricks of the opposition’s cabal. Yet if it was in Hearst’s mind to pit Block against Herbert Bayard Swope, he was, in the parlance of pugilism, “outmatching his man.”

DeFord and Block were present at my second meeting with Donnelly. They witnessed an emotional explosion that left me with an indelible regret. It was the sort of melodrama that only an exhibitionist might recall without discomfort. In extenuation, however, may be pleaded the greatest rage that had ever seized me. The Newsprint Controller had taken counsel overnight. He refused to carry out his promise. The manner of Donnelly’s statement was as exasperating as its text. “We have decided not to tie our hands with such a commitment as you have asked me to write,” he said, in the same tone with which he might have dismissed a request for alms.

The phrasing of my reply should be explained. It bridged the years back to my boyhood, when, among men who commanded respect and confidence, speech without bombast was like food without salt. Antidotal saturation afterward instilled an active aversion for the magniloquence that had tickled my juvenile hearing. But the virtues of that therapy vanished under the impact of Donnelly’s utterance. My words blared forth as if in instinctive rote: “I’ll create such a storm around your ears that your descendants will skulk from its memory like whipped curs.”

Against that fanfaronade should be credited the offender’s ready submission to restraining hands. The outburst had not been fruitless. Donnelly volunteered to resume consideration of my demand. Thereupon, I withdrew, leaving to DeFord and Block the task of getting from the Newsprint Controller the written instrument concerning which he had broken his pledge. Donnelly delivered the writing to DeFord two days later. But that did not terminate the war-time war on the comic supplement.

The last attack came four months before the Armistice. Walter G. Bryan, publisher of the Atlanta Georgian, telephoned me from Asheville, N. C. He was attending the annual meeting of the Southern Newspaper Publishers’ Association. Some misguided patriots had “gone haywire.” They had persuaded the convention to adopt a resolution to eliminate color supplements in order to release a corresponding tonnage for military uses. No sectional newspaper organization enjoyed higher standing with the national administration. Its conclusions would surely be accepted by Washington officialdom as warranting translation into general effect.

Bryan had exhausted his ingenuity in a vain effort first to defeat and then to delay the action. Now he called on me for help. The importunity was at least flattering. It implied the possibility of rescuing a forlorn hope in a deliberative assembly of which I wasn’t even a member. But the issue was too commanding to permit the weighing of personal equations. Bryan had obtained a special invitation for me to speak the next day during a period to be interpolated in the regular program.

The occasion clings to my memory almost as much for its atmosphere as its significance. The courtliness of the old South flowed through the proceedings of the Southern Newspaper Publishers’ Association under the presidency of F. G. Bell, publisher of the Savannah News. The outcome of the hearing granted to me could not be adequately recorded without the substance of my speech. A condensed version is given here:

The winning of a war depends on two branches of science—physics and psychology. The layman is accustomed to look to the first—in the application of material forces—for the decisive result. The expert regards the second— the intangible resources of the mind—as the determining factor. Napoleon said that in warfare the ratio of the mental to the physical was as three to one. Bismarck observed that wars were won with imponderable elements. Both were affirming the paramountcy of morale. Both knew that the will to conquer was the supreme requisite of a victorious army.

Whence comes that spirit? It is inseparable from the home, for the security and the ideals of which the patriot has gone forth to fight. The firmness of the front line is measured by the determination of those in the rear. It is the family that holds the last trench. In the domestic circle burn the fires that light the soldier’s way. Those fires, fueled by tradition, are fanned by habits of thought. In the guardianship of those habits of thought the press fulfils its highest duty—the most sacred office of journalism.

General Pershing has appealed for the maintenance of “the cheerio spirit” back home. That message echoes the wisdom of Napoleon and Bismarck. It bids us to stand sentinel over the customs, practices and usages—including the sports, games and amusements—that are the lifebuoys of our national temperament. Yet it has been proposed in the name of patriotism to discard one of the largest single elements of “cheerio” in our normal establishment— the colored comic.

The Germans seek to overcome the minds and wills of their adversaries. The end for which they strive could not be more fully served than by lowering the level of the American temper. . . . Casualty lists will soon be coming along. We need all the cushions available to soften those shocks. I find nothing patriotic in a plan to impair or to lay aside any instrument of mirth and good cheer. On the contrary, the patriotic course of the American newspaper runs in the opposite direction.

A publisher can render no better service than by expanding his circulation and so providing matter to lighten the hearts of a wider circle of readers than he has been reaching. . . . Morale is essential to victory. We are an emotional people and on more than one occasion our sense of humor alone has saved us. . . .

The convention of the Southern Newspaper Publishers’ Association graciously accepted my suggestion. It reconsidered the resolution for a suspension of color supplements. The matter was referred back to the same special committee on conservation of newsprint that had started the trouble. An all-night session was held. Members hesitated to reverse themselves in too abrupt a right-about-face. A solution was found in a parliamentary device. The committee renewed its report. It was a general affirmation of the association’s loyal adherence to the government’s policies. But the revised finding contained no recommendation. All allusions to color sections were omitted. The "funnies” were saved.

Twenty-three years later, in the Second World War, a scientific survey was made of the reading habits of American soldiers. The canvass was conducted by Dr. Lyman Bryson, of Columbia University. The result was a formal endorsement of the comic as a major stimulus of morale. No newspaper feature matched the popularity of the “funnies” in the cantonments. My thesis of 1918 became a demonstrated principle in 1941.

The favorable consideration accorded to my views by the Southern Newspaper Publishers’ Association was at wide variance with their interpretation by Dr. Alfred McClung Lee in his labored tome, The Daily Newspaper in America. He used a professorial incubator to hatch out of one passage this gist: “Anything to divert attention from the facts.” He assumed that I sought to hide the truth about the war. The humidity of this assumption was understandable. It welled from the same springs of exuberance that fed some of Lee’s statistical freshets. In point was his testimony before the Federal Communications Commission in July, 1941. He showed that during the preceding decade the dailies newly launched exceeded the number of established newspapers that disappeared. A most enlightening discovery! Equally illuminating would be the observation that the canoes, manned by lone anglers trying unfished waters, outnumbered the fleets of trawlers and whalers that ceased operation in the same period. 


Comments: Post a Comment

Wednesday, January 10, 2018


1968 Blondie TV Show

I am an ardent fan of the Blondie movies of the 1930s and 40s starring Arthur Lake and (...sigh...) Penny Singleton; and I was aware that there was a short-lived TV show attempted in the 1950s. But until I just happened to pick up this Blondie paperback issued in 1968 I was unaware that there was yet another attempt to bring Blondie to life:


Here's a promo for the show that I found on YouTube:

(Blogger keeps deleting the video from my post for some reason, so instead please follow THIS LINK to the Youtube video)

"Blondie, so soft, so bouncy, Blondie, so slight ..." indeed! Patricia Harty is a worthy successor to Penny Singleton, but other than that, boy, what a hokey show; kinda creepy even. Somehow the show was kept on the air for thirteen episodes, according to IMDB.

I still have this book, missing the front cover and falling apart. I remember watching the show, but don't remember anything specific about it. I do know that the young actress who played the daughter appeared on other TV shows of the era, even if I don't remember her name.
Looks like Pamelyn Ferndann to me. She has another comic strip connection; she voiced Lucy in some of the Peanuts specials.
I remember this series as well as it's 1957 predecessor where Arthur Lake reprised his role as Dagwood from the 1938-50 movie and radio series.
In that one, Pamela Britton played Blondie. It was a flop, a midseason replacement for LIFE OF RILEY, and only about twelve episodes were made. The 1968 version seemed a halfhearted affair, the actors were young and unknown, they looked too young, even too small to match up to the firmly ingrained Penny Singleton and Arthur Lake personifications, still present by way of the popular video presence of the old movies. The only recognizable faces were the oft-used child star Miss Firdin, and the obviously embarrassed Jim Backus as Dithers. The series was bad, and to make things worse, it was sent to the "Death Spot" by CBS, pitting it against NBC's DANIEL BOONE. It lasted a half a season, leaving only one note of interest, an episode that had Dag learning self-defence with the help of Bruce Lee. The show ended forty-nine years ago yesterday.
Singleton later did the voice for Jane Jetson, playing opposite George O'Hanlon (familiar from a long series of "Joe McDoakes" comedy shorts).

Blondie had a half-hour animated special at some point; I only recall that Alexander was a teenaged inventor. Blondie, Garfield, Hagar, BC, Family Circus, For Better or Worse, Ziggy, Doonsbury, Pogo, Cathy, Far Side, and probably some others got the half-hour special treatment. Peanuts accumulated enough specials to qualify for a series (and then they went ahead and made a series anyway). I recall a Popeye special, but that was a spin-off from Hanna Barbara's Saturday morning version.
There were two animated Blondie specials in the 1980's; BONDIE AND DAGWOOD (1987) and BLONDIE AND DAGWOOD-THE SECOND WEDDING (1989). Loni Anderson was Blondie's voice. They were made for Hearst in Japan by Marvel productions/Toei Animation.
Not only did Pamelyn Ferdin provide the voice for Lucy in "A Boy Named Charlie Brown" but the boy, Peter Robbins, was the voice of Charlie Brown in several shows.
Dagwood was played by Will Hutchins, who starred in the Western series "Sugarfoot."
You may want to buy the 2015 book "Blonde Goes to Hollywood: The Blondie Comic Strip in Films, Radio & Television" by Carol Lynn Scherling. A paperback will cost you about $25.00 at Amazon. Since you liked the Singleton-Lake movies you should check out the surviving episodes of the "Blondie" radio series that aired at the same time. Arthur Lake was always Dagwood in this series, but Blondie was played by Singleton, Ann Rutherford, and I believe at one time by Lake's real life wife Patricia. It is amazing how many cartoonists and their creations have appeared on radio and TV over the last 80 years.
Post a Comment

Tuesday, January 09, 2018


Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: John V.B. Ranck

John Van Buren “Jack” Ranck was born in Pennsylvania on November 15, 1875. His birthplace is based on census records and the birth date is from the Social Security Death Index. Ranck has not been found in the 1880 U.S. Federal Census. Information regarding his education and art training has not been found.

The Philadelphia Inquirer, June 14, 1895, published the following classified advertisement.

Artist—Original pen artist wants position on paper or lithographic designing or sketching. Jack Ranck, Burlingame, Pa.
An 1896 Columbus, Ohio city directory listed a “John V Ranck” who was a draughtsman residing at 189 North 5th.

In the 1900 census, Ranck resided in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania at 28 53rd Street. He and his wife, May, had a year-old daughter, Dorothy. His occupation was recorded as “Plaster”.

The 1906 Cleveland, Ohio city directory said Ranck was a Cleveland News artist who lived at The Naylon. Ranck was still with the News in the 1907 directory but at a different address, 640 East 115th NE. Ranck appeared to be a freelance artist, at “16 Wick blk”, in the 1909 directory which had his address as 10800 Orville Avenue NE.

According to the 1910 census, Ranck was a Brooklyn, New York resident at 380 East 17th Street. He was an art manager.

The 1912 and 1913 New York City directories said Ranck was an editor who worked at 203 Broadway in room 906, and resided in Brooklyn at 1618 Beverly Road.

American Newspaper Comics (2012) said Ranck drew Household Hints, from September 19 to 30, 1913, for the New York Evening Mail. The following year Ranck produced The Uniped, which was written by C.L. Edson and ran from January 13, to April 3, 1914 in the Evening Mail.

The Official Gazette of the United States Patent Office, August 25, 1914, had this patent filing: “John V. Ranck, Brooklyn, N. Y., assignor to Powers Photo Engraving Company, a Corporation of New York. Filed Apr. 14, 1913. Serial No. 761,119. (CI. 95—5.)”

1915 New York state census said art manager Ranck and his wife lived in Brooklyn at 781 Ocean Avenue. The 1915 Directory of Directors in the City of New York had this listing: “Ranck. John V., 203 Broadway. Multitone Engraving Co., Incorporated, The, Dir.”

Ranck was one of many newspaper artists who attended the dinner by the publication committee of the Motion Picture Board of Trade. It was held at the Hotel Astor on March 12, 1916 and reported in The Editor & Publisher and The Journalist, March 18, 1916, and Motography, March 25, 1916.

In the 1916 New York City directory Ranck remained at the same Brooklyn address and was an artist with the Evening Mail. Ranck’s address was 1547 Broadway in the 1917 directory. The Billboard, June 9, 1917, noted Ranck’s new location: “J. V. Ranck, who draws the best pictures in pictures says he has moved to Suite 1702 Godfrey Building.”

Ranck produced artwork for scores of sheet music covers.

Ranck’s full name appeared on his World War I draft card which he signed September 12, 1918. The self-employed artist resided at 18 Oak Lane, Mountain Lakes, Morris County, New Jersey. He was described as medium height and build with brown eyes and gray hair.

Ranck the illustrator continued to reside in New Jersey in Boonton at Mountain Lakes in the 1920 census. Ranck maintained a studio in Manhattan at 1170 Broadway, room 1103, in the 1922 New York City directory. In 1925 and 1926 his Manhattan studio address was 235 West 40th.

The 1930 census recorded Ranck as a self-employed magazine illustrator whose home was Mountain Lakes, New Jersey. A 1933 directory listed Ranck’s Manhattan studio at 56 Cooper Square, 11th floor.

According to American Newspaper Comics, Ranck illustrated a series of milk panel advertisements from 1938 to 1939.

Commercial illustrator Ranck’s address was 221 Fairview Avenue, Boonton, New Jersey, in the 1940 census. That same year, the first issue of Reg'lar Fellers Heroic Comics published two pieces by Ranck.

American Newspaper Comics said Ranck drew the series This Is America! for the Independent Press Service. The series ran from1944 to 1949.

The Altamont Enterprise (New York), June 6, 1947, published an editorial cartoon by Ranck.

Manhattan, New York City directories, from 1957 to 1960, listed Ranck at 25 Tudor City.

Ranck passed away in November 1965. The Social Security Death Index said his last residence was in New Jersey. Ranck was laid to rest in Wildwood Cemetery

—Alex Jay


Comments: Post a Comment

Monday, January 08, 2018


Advertising Features: This Is America!

Here's a feature that inhabits a weird gray zone between ad features and public service features. This is America!, penned by veteran illustrator John V. B. Ranck, was a series of panels and strips that told the stories of successful American entrepreneurs. As best I can determine it began as a weekly offering in 1944 (although this bio of Ranck claims he started it in 1941), changed to a strip around 1946, then went back to a panel, and the frequency was reduced to monthly through 1949 at least.

There's no doubt in my mind that this series was offered as a freebie to newspapers, because you'll find it running haphazardly as a space filler in some of the smallest rural papers. Usually these features are either trying to sell a product, or are issued by a government or other non-profit entity as a public service. This is America! definitely isn't trying to sell a product, and it didn't come from the government. That leaves it in that curious genre of features that were given away by some entity in order to push their ideas, rather than their products, on the public. This one evidently is trying to push the idea of entrepreuneurship, so perhaps it was commissioned by the Better Business Bureau or some similar organization. We cannot find out anything more based on the feature itself, as there was no syndicate/source identified. The only clue we get is the 1949 edition of Editor & Publisher's Syndicate Directory, in which This Is America! makes its sole appearance. The listing there credits something called the Independent Press Service. Unfortunately that has been a dead end for me, as I can find no information about this organization.


Comments: Post a Comment

Saturday, January 06, 2018


Herriman Saturday

June 7 1909 -- The Angels had a doubleheader with the Seals yesterday, and performed before a record crowd. All those Angel fans were disappointed when the home team took runner-up honors in both games.


Comments: Post a Comment

Friday, January 05, 2018


Wish You Were Here, from Walter Wellman ... by Guest Contributor Evan Schad

This linen-era comic card was published by the Massachusetts company Colourpicture sometime in the early to mid-forties as part of their "Morale Builders Series A". It has some great-as-always artwork by the prolific Walter Wellman, who had been doing postcard work since the late oughts (often self-publishing his own work!). This card depicts an Army soldier razzing Adolf Hitler, which as you many know was a common subject in military comic cards around this time. There is writing on the back, but unfortunately I can't tell you what it is as I only scanned the front of this card.

-- Evan Schad


Interesting thing is that the artist has used more of a World War I model for the American soldier -- note the linen leggings. The tunic-top is more the World War I model, too. Suggests to me that this card might be early 1942, at a time when the U.S. Army was still using Brodie Helmets and M1903 Springfields.
As well as the uniform, the tepid insult to Hitler might also indicate the card is prewar, when we were building up the armed forces for our possible actual involvement in the war.
Post a Comment

Thursday, January 04, 2018


King News by Moses Koenigsberg: Chapter 15 Part 1

 King News by Moses Koenigsberg

Published by F.A. Stokes Company, 1941

Chapter 15

  The Propaganda Plant (part 1)

link to previous installment   link to next installment

“I would rather own his God-driven pen than Rockefeller’s and Morgan’s combined fortunes.”—Thomas W. Lawson.

Printed in green, inside an artistic gold-embossed border, on a heavy buff card of fine quality, and enclosed in an envelope of impressive elegance, this striking sentence reached 1,500 editors or publishers on Monday, January 3, 1916. There was no intimation of the sender’s identity. Noted financier, author of Frenzied Finance and munificent advertiser of his crusade against Wall Street chicaneries, Thomas W. Lawson pulled a powerful stroke in the journalistic waters of the period. His extraordinary tribute to an unnamed genius excited a lively curiosity. The mystery was deepened the next day by another message, conveyed with the same sumptuous stationery, but on an authority quite different from Lawson. It read:

“As a figure, a personality, a force, he has no living rival.”— Cosmo Hamilton in London Academy.

Though the quotations from Lawson and Hamilton seemed to have touched the limits of eulogy, they were surpassed by the prophecy in this note received on the third day:

“He will be the pathfinder for an army of conquerors.”Australasian Nation.

At that point, the barrage of cryptic messages turned passive mystification to impatience in a number of newspaper offices. Action was sought. Postal authorities were consulted. In one case, official steps were suggested on the theory of possible fraud because “there ain’t no such animal.” A fourth communication, citing a statement by a famous partner of J. Pierpont Morgan, had the virtue of identifying its subject as a mundane creature of flesh and blood. It follows:

“If there is a man in this whole world who knows the value of efficiency and twentieth-century methods, as applied to business, it is this man.”—George W. Perkins.

Two more installments concluded the panegyric series, the sixth and final one reading:

“He is a torpedo, shot from the torpedo tube of the twentieth century, aimed at the obstacles that stand in the way of the twenty- first century.”—Houston Chronicle.

Accompanying this last card was a tasseled brochure. It solved the riddle of the audacious “teaser” campaign. It was the salutation with which King Features Syndicate presented itself to the newspaper world. It outlined what has been described as “the most spectacular program of promotion in the history of syndication.” A double-truck advertisement had been ordered in a popular magazine with a circulation of over 2,500,000 to attract a prospective clientele of less than 250. The deluxe pamphlet, timed for delivery on January 8th, contained a reproduction of that advertisement, scheduled to appear the same day in the Saturday Evening Post. It contained this introductory note, addressed to the 1,500 editors or publishers for whom the circular was prepared:

Ten million people will read the presentation on the two succeeding pages. Among them will be many readers of your paper. The advertisement herewith shown in facsimile costs for one issue ten thousand dollars. It represents the largest expenditure ever made in America for a single announcement of a newspaper feature. In the same degree, it expresses our faith in the value and importance of that feature. We believe that this advertisement without a parallel describes a feature without a parallel.

King Features Syndicate, Inc.

 Herbert Kaufman's Weekly Page, the premiere of which would mark the debut of King Features Syndicate.

Kaufman first claimed serious attention with inspirational essays published in the Worker’s Magazine of the Chicago Tribune in 1908. He was then the head of an advertising agency. He had been out of literary harness for more than a year when he accepted my proposal for a revival of his writing fortunes. “He is the only writer,” read a passage in one of my prospectuses extolling him, “whose fame in literature is fully matched by his fame in business advertising. The same pen that wrote The Dreamers, Why Are You Weeping, Sister and The Dirge of Doubt, evolved the worldwide selling campaigns embraced in the advertising of the National Cash Register, the International Harvester Company and similar organizations.”

Herbert Kaufman’s Weekly Page, sparingly illustrated, included a leading article, a humorous skit in colloquial rhyme, entitled The Low-Brow on Olympus, a Kaufman editorial, a treatise on the art of advertisement, several V (Vim, Vigor and Victory) Verses and some short commentaries. A proof of the first release was submitted in advance to W. R. Hearst with a table of rates for his Sunday newspapers. The offer was definitely declined. A week later, the broadside in the Saturday Evening Post apparently injected a good deal of excitement into the Hearst retinue.

About to board a train in the Union Station at Washington, I was halted by the shouting of my name over the loud-speaker ordinarily used for the announcement of trains. It was a long distance telephone call. The novelty of the experience startled me. A squad of red-caps escorted me to a booth in the concourse. W. R. Hearst was at the other end of the wire. He hoped he wasn’t too late to secure the Kaufman page for his whole chain.

“But you turned it down,” I remonstrated. “It’s already tied up in several places.”

“I seem to have made a mistake,” Hearst answered apologetically. “My people appear to think well of the feature. Please let me have it for as many of my papers as you can.”

Such a humility on Hearst’s part in editorial matters was incomprehensible to me at the time. Its explanation came in an amusing incident some years later. Hearst’s rejection of the Kaufman offering had been prompted largely by a solicitude on Arthur Brisbane’s account. Brisbane was regularly contributing to the Sunday edition an essay, which, in large type, with a powerful supporting cartoon, occupied an entire page. It was unsigned. The mere thought of allotting equal space in the same issue to a rival commentator might ruffle the pride of Hearst’s chief-of-staff. And if that might prove irksome, what would happen if the outsider’s name were spread across the top of the sheet while Brisbane’s chef-d'oeuvre remained anonymous? Surely this must not come about at Hearst’s instance.

The situation was altogether different when employees petitioned the proprietor to buy an article for use in newspapers for which they were respectively responsible. It would be ill-advised to deny such a request when concurred in by several managing editors. And it would be impolitic in these circumstances for a ranking executive to question his employer’s acquiescence. So, though Brisbane made no concealment of his dissatisfaction, it could hardly be vented in any reproach to Hearst. The niceties and nuances of this state of affairs became clearer to me when, some time after Herbert Kaufman s Weekly Page had run its course, Hearst summoned me to a private meeting.

“Brisbane’s contract is about to expire,” Hearst said tersely. “He’s acting up. He may become unreasonable. Whom can we get—somebody that Artie will consider a possible successor?” Hearst’s purpose was obvious. He had no intention of breaking with Brisbane. But he wanted “Artie” to feel that a substitute was on hand to replace him. Herbert Kaufman was chosen for that role. He wrote a daily review of national and international events which, by Hearst’s orders, was printed in a conspicuous position on the editorial page over which Brisbane presided. How much leverage this exerted in Hearst’s negotiation of a fresh agreement with Brisbane will never be known.

Kaufman’s daily mélange went into eclipse on the same axis on which his weekly feature had swung out of syndication in 1919. This apostle of efficiency declined to practice his preachments. At least, he fell short of the exhortation to “Do it now.” His compact with King Features Syndicate stipulated the completion of manuscript six weeks ahead of the publication date. That provision was never fulfilled. Kaufman’s first batch of material was three weeks behind schedule. His copy continued to lag until the matrices of his page lost all relationship to regular shipments.

The culmination came when he dictated his text over the telephone from San Francisco to New York three full days after the stereotyping deadline. Alexander Black, the author, then Sunday editor of Newspaper Feature Service, was called on to meet the crisis. In his young manhood, Black had been noted for speed as a court stenographer. He, himself, took Kaufman’s dictation over the wire. At the finish, Black asked whether Kaufman realized the difficulties he had imposed on the syndicate’s labor personnel. “Mechanics have no place in the economy of my life,” was the characteristic reply.

I have been unable to find a complete Kaufman page
The “circus stunt” with which King Features Syndicate crashed the main entrance of newspaperdom, furnished a new index of syndication statistics. Fewer than three hundred cities in the United States boasted Sunday editions of the rank for which a minimum rate was fixed for Herbert Kaufman’s Weekly Page. The 1,500 names on the “teaser” mailing list, two to each publication, thus represented more than five times the number of prospective clients. Territorial conflicts reduced still lower the aggregate of potential purchasers. Nevertheless, on its initial release date, the feature appeared in 120 papers. The roll grew to 165. Kaufman’s 60 percent of the gross revenues approximated $40,000 annually. That was a sizable amount at the time. A decade later, it would have been nothing to brag about.

The stamina that was taxed by commerce with genius of the Herbert Kaufman stripe was replenished through association with talents of the J. D. Gortatowsky type. Gortatowsky left the managing editorship of the Atlanta Constitution in 1916 to join Newspaper Feature Service. He accepted my offer of a position with little idea of what his duties would be and with far less of a notion that they would eventually lead him to the top of the Hearst organization. During twelve years he proved a pillar of strength and a reservoir of comfort as my assistant. After another twelve years, in belated appreciation of his rare capabilities, he was appointed general manager of the Hearst newspapers. That appointment was especially gratifying as confirmation of the judgment that prompted me early in our relationship to transfer him from special writing to a managerial post.

Few stories of success match in quaintness the circumstances of Gortatowsky’s entrance into the syndicate field. He “kicked” himself into the place he coveted. A letter of complaint won for him an invitation to write communications “from the other side of the desk.” “Gorty” had long hankered for a reserved seat in Manhattan. It is possible that this hankering directed the poising and phrasing of his prize epistle.

The occasion was what Gortatowsky considered an objectionable colored comic starring Dimples, the chubby five-year-old also known as “The Campbell’s Soup Kid.” It was an installment of the series created by Grace G. (Wiederseim) Drayton, whom Newspaper Feature Service held forth as one of its mainstays. The page that drew “Gorty’s” disapproval consisted of nine panels. In the eighth Dimples was shown romping with a girl pickaninny of like age. In the ninth, the two little playmates appeared in what was clearly the white folks’ nursery. They were preparing for a joint surrender to the sandman. And, horror of horrors! They were climbing into the same bed. Georgia has been called on to withstand many outrages, but, thank Heavens, it was spared the ordeal of looking upon this picture in bold print. The Atlanta Constitution went to its readers that Sunday devoid of its “funnies.” Every copy of the supplement was destroyed at Gortatowsky’s order.

Dimples in an uncontroversial Sunday page
A possible disaster was averted, but the Atlanta Constitution had suffered actual loss and damage. All the harrowing details awaited me in a formidable dossier on my return from a six weeks business trip. It included an exchange of correspondence between Gortatowsky and C. V. Tevis, office manager of Newspaper Feature Service. There was more amusement than chagrin for me in its reading. “Gorty” did not criticize Newspaper Feature Service. Instead, he commiserated with its management. He knew it must be distressing for us to realize the injury that had been done. He blamed himself rather than the syndicate. He was at fault for the absence of adequate precautions against such an adversity. Of course, that would be corrected, but he would welcome any offers of cooperation.

The letter Gortatowsky addressed to me was practically unanswerable. It described a grievance without stating it. It left no ground on which to question or debate the responsibilities. It put the syndicate on the defensive in the same terms in which it withdrew the cause for defense. The man who could frame that sort of message belonged on my staff. That was the highly desirable consummation for which Newspaper Feature Service became indebted to the broadmindedness of Dimples’ social attitude.

Chapter 15 Part 2 Next Week   
link to previous installment   link to next installment


Comments: Post a Comment

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Subscribe to
Posts [Atom]