To Herriman or not to Herriman – Poll Results

Thanks to all of you for voting!

First, my apologies for not posting yesterday. I’m training a new software tester and it’s keeping me extra busy. And at night I’m busy watching those poor Ottawa Senators get the crap beaten out of them in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Tallying the web and email votes so far, the results are ~80% in favor of running all the material, ~20% for highlights, and one voter who wants both Herriman and stripper photos. Sorry buddy, you’ll have to visit Craig Yoe’s blog for that material! So it looks like we’re going to post everything unless there’s a real surge in votes going the other direction.

Some of you have commented that the material should be published in book form. With the advent of that has become a possibility, but I have to nix the idea for this particular project. I wouldn’t be comfortable putting my name on a book of this material unless I was also going to do all the research on L.A. politics so that I could explain all the cartoons. Having taken years educating myself in turn of the century New York City politics I know what a huge project that can be, and I have to wimp out on you guys — I’m just not willing to put in such a big effort for a book that could very well sell just a couple dozen copies. I’ve got my hands plenty full with Stripper’s Guide research, not looking to add more to my plate. That being said, if there is some LA history expert out there who would like a collaboration I’m all ears.

Despite wimping out on this particular project, I would like to put my two cents in that I am nevertheless a big supporter of annotating cartoons. I see a lot of reprint books coming out with material that really cries out for explanations. The typical reader cannot be expected to fully understand and appreciate the subject matter in early comics and cartoons, and I think publishers should consider having someone write annotations for the material. And I’m not just thinking about editorial cartoons. There are plenty of comic strip reprints that would benefit greatly from annotations.

For instance, when I read reprint books of Gasoline Alley, Terry and the Pirates, Out Our Way and such, I can’t help but wonder if the average reader goes away not understanding what’s going on half the time. For those not immersed in the pop culture of the time, do they know what Walt Wallet means when he refers to a woman as a ‘grass widow’? Or when Mutt is called a ‘plunger’? Or Tillie refers to a fellow as a ‘sheik’?

I doubt that it would reduce the charm of these strips to be annotated when necessary, and it would certainly help readers to follow the nuances of the story better, making them more likely to be customers for more reprints.

6 comments on “To Herriman or not to Herriman – Poll Results

  1. Yes, annotations are are really helpful, and often fun to read. As long as they are kept separate from the comic strips/pages. The most horrible example is the new translations of the Tintin albums here in Sweden, where they’ve placed the annotations on the bottom of the pages wich disturbs and interrupts the reading flow.
    BTW: The Gasoline Alley books you mention *have* annotations! Check in the back of the book. 🙂 And Bill Blackbeards debaffler pages in the Krazy books are just great!

  2. Hi Joakim –
    Actually I was referring to the Spec Productions GA book. Haven’t seen the new ones yet, probably will pass on them since I already have most of the run in clips. The Spec books were comped in return for some research that I did for them.

    I prefer annotations printed along with the strips, small enough that they can be ignored if you don’t need them.


  3. actually, my new book “clean cartoonist’s dirty drawings” WILL have some work by herriman fitting that title, both a previously published piece and an previously unpublished piece of art repro’d from the original. thanks for mentioning me in your great blog, alan. there’s an incredible treasure every and every day on stripper’s guide!

  4. My favorite recent wrong annotation was from one of Checker’s Winsor McKay books – where they wonder if the “obvious fake name John Kendricks Bangs” was a McCay penname. Yow. Has Bangs ever been out of print?
    But yes, lots of folks dont know the difference between a grass widow and a sod widow. Or of course, now how many songs you got on those big CDs back in 1920s…..

  5. Hi Steven –
    Yeah, those olden days CDs were really low capacity storage devices. Just two songs!

    Here’s a pop culture icon that I’ve never been able to fully decode. In the 1880s and 90s it was common to indicate someone was a young dandy by showing him sucking on the end of his walking stick. What kind of weird iconography is that? Where did it come from?


  6. Hello, Allan—I’ve also seen the “dandy” character with the cane at his mouth many times when I go back to the 1890’s. I call this guy a “Cholly” as that seems to be the name he’s given most of the time. I read him as an English dandy, or a pretentious American aspiring to be one. I’m assuming the cane up to “Cholly”‘s mouth was a gesture of pondering, like scratching your head. —–Cole Johnson.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *