Obscurity of the Day: Jimmie the Messenger Boy

Was there eveer a cartoonist that had a more intriguing name than Redw. Shellcope? Too bad his cartooning doesn’t live up to the promise of that cool name. Redw.’s Jimmie The Messenger Boy started on 5/3/1903 in the Philadelphia Inquirer and ran until June 1913. The stories, seldom much better than the one in our sample here, were pretty basic slapstick humor, and the art, though excellent, was swiped lock, stock and barrel from the great William F. Marriner.

I guess Marriner’s style was easy to copy, because there was a crop of at least a dozen cartoonists who did imitations, mostly pretty accurate, of his style. His wispy lines and kids with enormous heads on tiny bodies make the stuff instantly recognizeable.

Regarding the June 1913 end date, I can’t do better than that because the Philadelphia Inquirer on microfilm very rarely includes the Sunday comic sections starting about 1910. I’ve checked different versions of the film, but all are missing most sections. It’s a real shame since there’s some great material there to be indexed. Most of my Inquirer dates after 1910 come from indexing papers that took the section in syndication. That gets me pretty good dates for most stuff up to about 1915. After that it gets really tough because, as I mentioned in the last post, the Inquirer‘s syndication pretty well died after that.

8 comments on “Obscurity of the Day: Jimmie the Messenger Boy

  1. re: Redw. Shellcope
    This name came up elsewhere sometime back and it sent me on a google search.

    The name “Shellcope” doesn’t have a lot
    entries so the search was rather quick.

    First is a 1928 Ocean City, N.J. city
    directory which lists a R. Edward and
    Marie Shellcope as homeowners and in the
    business of “Art goods”.

    This leads us to a Marie Carter Shellcope who was a graduate of the
    Philadelphia Academy of Fine Arts.

    An Andy Madura page selling Sunday
    comic strips gives us a Jimmy the
    Messenger Boy page credited to
    “Rube Shellcope?”. Don’t know if the
    question mark is for crediting the
    page or the name.

    Of course the Ohio State page gives us
    “Red W. Shellcope”.

    So what is his name? I dunno.
    But it was an interesting journey.


  2. I’m afraid I’m the source on OSU’s Red W. Shellcope. In days past I interpreted his signature that way, and they used it as I gave it to them at the time.

    “R. Edward” makes a lot of sense, tho I see no period in his sig between the R and E. The romantic in me always hoped that his name was something like “Redwing”, though.

  3. Hello, Allan—-The last episode of JIMMIE THE MESSENGER BOY is July 6, 1913. (“Jimmie The Messenger Boy gets doused”).—-Colew.Johnson.

  4. Thanks Cole! I guess you have all those sections in hardcopy? Lucky dog…

    Here’s some other Inquirer dates that I’ve been unable to find on microfilm:

    Fineheimer Twins – continued running as an occasional filler until at least 1930 – do you have an end date, and do you know if they were just reruns in later years?

    Hank Hinkle by Gallagher (1908)- can you shed any light on this feature – my notes make no sense to me.

    Kid Trubbel – I have tentative running dates of 1910-18; the film is so fragmentary that I can’t get any closer.

    Plumbing Pete by Gallagher – another mysterious one from 1908 – not in my Inky index, but referenced in SG as being in my files, but can’t find it there.

    That Irresistable Rag – best I can do are tentative dates of May 1913 to sometime in 1916. Another Doyle production after Knerr left?

    Our Friend Mush – need an end date for it in the Inquirer (before it became Just Kids that is).

    Hippo And The Monks by Gallagher – looking for an end date, best I can do is sometime in 1915. I note that this one ran more often in the Inquirer’s syndicated section than it did in the home paper. That’s all we need…

    Little Possum Gang – need an end date, sometime in 1916?

    DeSmears the Portrait Painter – need an end date, sometime in 1902?


  5. Hello, Allan—-As a collector, If I may be allowed to brag, I’ve been very fortunate in my INQUIRER holdings.—FINEHEIMER TWINS-The newest date I have is Dec. 1928, in the Inky itself. At this point, it only shows up once in a blue moon, strictly as a 1/2 page filler for ads, as is this one. It’s in the mag section, bloated with Christmas toy ads. It is by Doyle, and has a very “generic” aspect to it. I do not think that the Inky ran reruns. —-HANK HINKLE -I have six episodes, from 12-13-08, to 2-14-09. (There may have been more in syndication.)It’s another rube farmer strip.—KID TRUBBEL- By Payne,8-7-10 to 12-22-12, By Gal, 1-5-13 to June 1918? (Somewhere I actually have the section, but it’s like Schlieman’s Troy around here.) —PLUMBING PETE —I do not see any examples. Only in syndication???—-THE IRRESISTABLE RAG-By Knerr 6-15-13 to 11-15-14, By Joe Doyle 8-16-14 to ?1916.——HIPPO AND THE MONKS—Last one is 12-13-14.——Don’t know eggs actly when OUR FRIEND MUSH turned into JUST KIDS. Mid-1923.—LITTLE POSSUM GANG Ended Mid-1918, sorry!—DESMEARS THE PAINTER-I have but one episode, 12-29-01.—-By the way, I have a one-shot strip IT WAS NOT A CASE OF SUICIDE, OH ,NO! 1-12-02, signed R.Edward Shellcope.—Cole Johnson.

  6. Yo Cole –
    * I have a note that the latest Inky Fineheimer I have found was in the January 12 1930 section.

    * Hank Hinkle – here’s a weird one – the strip ran twice in the Boston Globe as a b&w strip on 9/12 and 10/9/08, earlier than in the Inquirer itself. Do you figure the Inky only ran it in their section when they had a hole to fill, and it was syndicated earlier? Is this one of those that requires a trip the Gateway of the West?

    * Kid Trubbel, thanks for the info, and for sending me off to wiki to find out who the hell Schliemann is.

    * Irresistable Rag, I take it Doyle’s start is interspersed with Knerr leftovers? My latest on this series is 12/3/16 in the Pittsburg Dispatch, which may be running late. I have a 10/29/16 from the Evansville Journal-News which seemed to be running things on time.

    *Hippo and Monks – this is the end date I had from the Inky, but I had a cryptic note saying that it lasted until early 1915 at least, but no reference as to where I saw it. Doing Mr. Schliemann proud here today…

    * Little Possum Gang – ok, any idea when Doyle took it over from Payne?

    * DeSmears – there’s a 12/1 episode signed Elliot, but seems to be by Mohr (?!?!), and the other was your date of 12/29. I think I got that 1902 date from one of those Trina books, but looking over my index I think its likely those were the only two.

    Thanks very much for checking into all this stuff!


  7. Hello, Allan—-The 1-12-30 Fineheimer–is it a 1/2 page ad filler? ——HANK HINKLE-The INKYDOODLE seems to have had more strips than they knew what to do with. (The PRESS was like this, too). They might have strips run in client papers that took the place of ones in the home paper, for no reason I can think of. (Example, The 4-19-08 AUSTIN STATESMAN runs a BIG SCALPER where the INQUIRER ran a JIMMIE. There was no ads involved, either.) —–Yes, Doyle’s first IRRESISTABLE RAGs are blended in with the last Knerrs. —-Payne’s last POSSUM GANG is 12-1-12. The feature is taken over by Gal from 12-8-12 to 7-20-13, then by Doyle 7-27-13 to it’s 1918 conclusion.—-CORRECTION: You’re right, I missed the 12-1-01 HOW DESMEARS, THE PAINTER, GOT A SUDDEN RISE IN THE WORLD signed Elliot. Does it look like Mohr’s work? —-Cole Johnson.

  8. * The 1-12-30 Fineheimer is a half pager, and there’s not another one through June where I quit indexing in that session.

    * Yes, I’ve too seen quite a few Big Scalpers in other papers compared to the few that ran in the Inq. What I wouldn’t give to understand the logic behind it all…

    * Much thanques for the Possum Gang run-thru.

    * According to my indexing notes the Elliot DeSmears did appear to be about the same as the Jean Mohr version.


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