Obscurity of the Day: Once Upon a Time

Fairy tale strips have been tried many times, but seldom have they attained any great popularity. Once Upon a Time is no exception to the rule. Walter J. Enright penned this one that adapted classic fairy tales to the comic strip medium.

The strip has a bit of a checkered history. Syndicated by McClure starting on June 1 1925, the strip in some papers went under the moniker of Make-A-Book, and in those cases included instructions for cutting out the strips to form a booklet (not exactly rocket science). The original run of the strip seems to have ended on August 5 1926, but McClure continued selling the strip in reprints as late as 1929. In 1933 Whitman Publishing issued a Big Little Book based on the strip even though McClure seems to have quit selling it four years earlier.

W.J. Enright first pops up on my radar in the oughts, illustrating a few books, and then drops out of sight until the advent of this strip. By 1929, however, he was producing illustrations for the New York World and did a short-lived Sunday panel titled Here and Thereabouts. Then he disappears again. He, or perhaps more likely his progeny, pops up again in the 1950s as W.J. Pat Enright, when he has a few children’s books published.

Be sure to read the above samples, a complete tale with some rather ‘Grimm’ doings. Doctor Wertham would not be pleased!

4 comments on “Obscurity of the Day: Once Upon a Time

  1. What a wonderful strip. I’d love to see more of it. I notice in the bottom of the final strip we see the name Hansely Gretel, as if the author was trying out a possibly punny pen name.

    Here was some concise storytelling I wish I could absorb in full.

    Thanks for sharing this find.

    Bill Willingham

  2. In the category of better late than never, I have him listed as: Walter Joseph Enright, 1879-1969. He worked as an editorial cartoonist in 1915. He published his cartoons until at least 1941.

    Info from: “Original cartoons by American Cartoonists from the collection of Mr. Charles L Howard, February 6 to March 4, 1939,” pdf file: AIC1939AMCartoon_comb.pdf ; “Political Cartoon Collection, 1889-1944: Inventory,” Princeton University Library – Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library, 2001, viewed online: http://arks.princeton.edu/ark:/88435/th83kz33s

    Sara W. Duke, Curator, Popular & Applied Graphic Art, Library of Congress, sduk@loc.gov

  3. W.J. "Pat" Enright was a noted editorial cartoonist for the New York World and other newspapers. He did indeed write and illustrate his own books in the 1950s. His only progeny was his daughter (with Maginel Wright), Elizabeth Enright, who grew up to become an illustrator and a Newbury Award-winning author.

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