Obscurity of the Day: Kate And Karl

Mary Hays was definitely a relative of the better known distaff cartoonists Margaret Hays and Grace Drayton, possibly a sister though no one is quite certain. Mary seems to have been younger than the other two, and certainly was not nearly as gifted artistically. Her only long-running strip was Kate And Karl, done for the Philadelphia North American. All of the cartooning Hays clan worked at the North American in the first two decades of the 20th century, the others most notably with the long running popular series The Turr’ble Tales of Kaptin Kiddo. Mary definitely was trying to echo the style of Grace Drayton, but her version comes off as flat and lifeless by comparison. Her storytelling ability, too, leaves something to be desired as our sample attests (I had to read it three times before I could even decipher the continuity and the gag).

Kate And Karl ran 9/24/1911 through 11/30/1913, and was later reprinted in the World Color Printing Sunday sections of 1917-18. It’s my understanding that Mary Hays went on to be a well-regarded paper doll designer.

2 comments on “Obscurity of the Day: Kate And Karl

  1. Mary A. Hays (later Mary Hays Huber) was a daughter of Margaret Gebbie Hays, and a niece of Grace Gebbie Wiederseim Drayton (Margaret and Grace being sisters). In her early career Mary hadn't come into her own artistically, but she was very young!
    She later designed/illustrated a good many items for the Dennison and Gibson companies; the companies neither credited their artists nor kept a record of their names. I have seen her name on a couple of children's magazine pages, one of which I own, and I have seen just her initials (MH) on one Gibson postcard which is recognizably in her style (and which I also own).

    I realize that postcards, bridge tallies, and holiday stickers aren't your primary interest, but I thought you might enjoy having some of the information I've been able to glean over the past few years.




    Elizabeth Huntington Hall

  2. Hi Elizabeth —
    I'm always thrilled when readers write with additional info about these cartoonists. So many of them are ciphers to me, it's great to hear about their other endeavors!


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