Saturday, October 15, 2011
Not Herriman Saturday -- Q & A Instead
Our Gang Ad -- Cole Johnson sends this Royal Gelatin ad, saying that it might be by Virginia Huget. I see no particular resemblance to the art style I associate with her, but it's also well established that she was pretty good at aping other styles. Anyone want to weigh in with an opinion on whether this is Huget, or maybe you'd like to nominate some other cartoonist?
Newspaper Archives on the Web -- I know about Newspaperarchive.com, of course, and the Library of Congress has a selection of digitized newspapers, and then there's Google Newspaper Archive as well. There's also Newslibrary.com, which I know very little about. There's also some localized websites like this one for Utah and one for New Jersey papers, for which I've somehow lost the link. If you know of other sources for digitized newspapers available on the web, either free or fee, I'd like to know about them. I think a link collection for digitized newspaper sources would be a great resource. Ideally we'd also tabulate a list of newspapers and date ranges as well, but that may be impossible to do as it is a pretty swiftly moving target.
Labels: Q and A
His signature started appearing on the strip in June of 2000 (June 14, 2000 signed 'Schorr'; June 21, 2000 signed 'Schoor/Smith').
A few years ago I found the Old Fulton New York Post Cards site - "Search Over 17,587,000 Old New York State Historical Newspaper Pages":
California Digital Newspaper Collection, dnc.ucr.edu/cdnc
Don Markstein had a stroke in February, and now Don Markstein's Toonopedia is gone. Anyone have any info?
Friday, October 14, 2011
Obscurity of the Day: Louis Kniep's Comic Strip
|October 15 1905|
|December 10 1905|
|January 14 1906|
|March 4 1906|
|September 23 1906|
|October 21 1906|
|February 10 1907|
|September 22 1907|
|November 3 1907|
|March 22 1908|
|April 12 1908|
Although newspapers in Newark and other cities in the shadow of NYC always managed to make do, usually on a steady diet of B-grade syndicate features, there was an exceptional receptiveness at these papers to local features.
Blog reader Fram, who braves the dark waters of the Google Newspaper Archive in spite of an annoying interface, spotty coverage and buggy digitization, discovered the feature sampled above, perhaps the earliest local feature to appear in the Newark papers.
The Newark Call began publishing a weekly strip by Louis Kniep in their Sunday edition on or before October 15 1905. (Most of the dates cited in this post will be approximations -- many issues of the Call are missing from the Google archives.) The strip usually starred animals, though none were nominated for star billing for a long while. The strips are certainly not notable for quality of art or gags -- in fact they are quite firmly in the amateur category. What is notable is the level of cruelty and violence depicted -- Fram aptly described them as outdoing Tom and Jerry in that department, practically verging on Itchy and Scratchy territory.
Starting in September 1906 a dog named Towser takes star billing on occasion, and kids named Peter, Freddy and Tommy are named more than once. By 1907, though, Towser has been renamed Fido, and Fido he stays for awhile.
Finally in September 1907 Kniep makes a breakthrough and comes up with a consistent star player he calls the Wooden Man. Other than being drawn in a weird blocky way, the substance he's made of doesn't seem to be a major plot consideration, but hey, at least Kniep finally made the effort to develop a running character. The Wooden Man's horse, also presumably wooden, is more memorable than his master -- he sports a belly-side door in the Trojan style.
While Kniep was zeroing in on the comic strip convention of recurring characters, his writing was getting increasingly disjointed. Not that Kniep's work was ever the model of clarity, but some of the strips I perused near the end of the run were downright incoherent. Finally the Call seems to have had enough and the series ends on or soon after April 12 1908.
So, besides the minor novelty of this amateurish local comic strip lasting over two years, what can we say of interest? Fram offers this nugget -- he did a little digging on this Louis Kniep fellow and discovered that a Newark native by this same name competed as a gymnast in the 1904 Olympics! If it is the same fellow, he was about as good a gymnast as he was a cartoonist. He placed 44th in his best event.
Thursday, October 13, 2011
News of Yore: Charles F. Batchelder
Labels: News of Yore
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
Obscurity of the Day: Doddlesby's Home Tasks
Doddlesby's Home Tasks, a cute little gem about a fellow who can't seem to successfully fix anything around the house, was easy to recognize as a series once the main character was named. Unfortunately that happened months into a very sporadic run, and cartoonist Charles Fletcher Batchelder did many non-series strips and panels at the same time to throw me off the scent. Unfortunately, once I'd finally recognized the strip as a series, the previous batch of microfilm reels had been sent back to the lending library and my notes, copious as they were, did not yield a start date for the series prior to the naming of the main character.
Perhaps not fascinating information, but it is my excuse for now saying that the series first gained a named star on October 15 1901, but that the proto-series predates it by a few months. I can say with authority, though, that the series last appears on November 14 of the same year. So there.
Thanks to Cole Johnson for the samples!
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
Ink-Slinger Profiles: Virginia Huget
Labels: Ink-Slinger Profiles
Monday, October 10, 2011
Obscurity of the Day: Gentlemen Prefer Blondes
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes was a surprise bestselling novel of 1925 by Anita Loos. Despite garnering tepid response from critics, the public went mad over the adventures of gold-digging flapper Lorelei Lee and sent the book through twenty printings in just its first year of publication.
Bell Syndicate smelled a good property for comic strip adaptation, procured the rights and had the feature on the market in a matter of a few months. The strip debuted sometime in April 1926 (can anyone supply the exact date?) with art by Virginia Huget. This was Huget's first newspaper series, but it was a good move for her as it may have been an entree into her later high-profile Sunday magazine cover series like Miss Aladdin, Babs in Society and Double Dora.
The writing on the strip is credited to Anita Loos herself, but the chances that she actually had anything to do with it are slim. Although Loos was an astonishingly productive writer (check out the long list of screenplays on her IMDB page), she was putting most of her energy in 1926 to writing a Broadway show version of the novel. My guess is that Huget, who later wrote flapper material in the same vein as Loos, handled her own writing chores on the strip.
Huget didn't stick with the strip for long, perhaps chafing at her lack of a writing credit. Phil Cook took over on July 26 and did a creditable job as well. It was all for naught though, because the strip was cancelled after just five months in the papers, expiring on September 25 1926. Why it didn't catch on is a bit of a mystery, although the surfeit of other flapper strips already infesting the funnies pages was probably no help. It could also be that, as is often the case with licensed features, the royalties were spread too thinly and no one ended up making enough money to suit them.
Although the strip had a very short run, Bell Syndicate eventually gave it a second life by selling off the backlog of strips to an outfit called American Newspaper Features. That firm sold the strip to newspapers looking for cheap material in 1929 and the early 30s, presumably without the handicap of paying royalties to Loos.
Sunday, October 09, 2011
Jim Ivey's Sunday Comics
Labels: Jim Ivey's Sunday Comics