Saturday, February 21, 2009
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...
Labels: Herriman's LA Examiner Cartoons
Friday, February 20, 2009
News of Yore: Harold Teen Reaches Middle Age
Harold Teen Reaches 30th Anniversary
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.
Labels: News of Yore
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
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!
Nize Baby was the Sunday running concurrently, but I tend to classify Gross' works separately since everything he did was only very loosely tied together. Besides, Gross actually did Nize Baby himself, whereas Looy Dot Dope pretty much just traded on his name.
I remember in my childhood, Winnie Winkle, Tillie the toiler, Dick Tracy,the katzenjammer kids etc. those were the good old days..
Thanks for your website.
Since kidhood, I've been nicknamed "Lòóy". I used to read Milt Gross's column in NYDaily Mirror. For a while, MG even emitted "Knock Knock" cartoons. I've been a longtime fan of his books.
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
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?
Monday, February 16, 2009
News of Yore 1952: Catching Up with the Hillbilly Slugger
By Erwin Knoll (E&P, 4/19/52)
"Play ball!" was the cry across the country this week, and among the bleacher idols getting back to work was the redoubtable Ike McBatt, better known to his many fans as "Ozark Ike."
It's been a long winter for Mr. McBatt, as it must be to any star ballplayer. H e dabbled in football and basketball, of course, and found time for an occasional romantic interlude with his perennial sweetheart, Dinah Fatfield. But his first love is the leather apple, and he and his fans must have been glad to see another baseball season launched.
Mr. McBatt, of course, is the creation of Ray Gotto, and the hero of the first successful baseball comic strip (the only baseball strip around now too, we think.) His often startling feats of athletic prowess are followed by readers of about 250 newspapers.
Mr. Gotto, who started "Ozark Ike" for King Features Syndicate over six years ago, is making noises like a major-league manager these days, predicting a big season for his star. He is also burying himself again in baseball record books and regulations, looking for those improbable but never impossible "fluke plays" that keep "Ozark Ike" readers guessing from day to day and
game to game.
"The accent in 'Ozark Ike'," Mr. Gotto says, "is not on what happens but on how it happens. Readers know that the hero will win all or most of the games. It's important to keep their attention focused on how he does it."
Mr. Gotto grew up in Nashville, Tenn., and claims to have played ball on every sandlot in that city. His weight—only 145— kept him out of professional baseball and he turned to his second love, cartooning. Though his formal art education consisted only of a correspondence course and some night classes at Nashville's Advertising Art School, he landed a job on the Nashville Banner's art staff after a brief free-lance stint. Here he did sports and editorial cartoons and advertising layouts.
In the early '40s Mr. Gotto decided to try his hand at a comic strip, and started working out a story line. "I assumed that there would probably be an increase in sports interest after the war," he says. "There usually is. Anyhow, sports was the only thing I knew very much about. I only went through high school in Nashville, and that by the hardest." "Ozark Ike" was just beginning to take shape when the Navy drafted the cartoonist in 1943.
While doing animations for the Naval Photographic Science Laboratory in Washington, Mr. Gotto found time to draw the first few sequences of "Ozark Ike." Shortly before the war's end he took them to King Features in New York. Syndicate editors liked the strip, but doubted whether a baseball story would appeal to female readers. A spot survey of secretaries and stenographers in the KFS offices proved that it would, and when the late Damon Runyon said he liked "Ike," the deal was clinched.
In the strip's early months, much emphasis was placed on the hillbilly setting and a desperate feud between the Fatfields and the McBatts. Since then, however, and especially since a Sunday page was introduced in 1947, most of the action has revolved around sports and especially baseball.
Mr. Gotto, by the way, unhesitatingly picks Cleveland and Brooklyn for this year's major league pennants. We suppose he's entitled to his opinion, but...
[Note: Ray correctly picked Brooklyn, but they met the Yankees in the World Series, not Cleveland]
Labels: News of Yore
Sunday, February 15, 2009
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:
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.
Labels: Jim Ivey's Sunday Comics