Herriman Saturday

I think an appropriate subtitle for this Saturday’s offerings would be “Herriman in a Hurry”. Herriman produced the first two cartoons for the September 16th paper, the second two for the 18th. The first, in which he reports cartoonographically (a fine word I just made up) from a Los Angeles dog show, is obviously a rush job. The cartoon vignettes are small and unimaginative, and the captions, which are ostensibly humorous, all fall flat or are, as best I can tell, simply non sequiturs.

The second cartoon is an illustration for a short story. Herriman did a lot of this work at the Examiner. I made copies of very few because the illustrations were typically much smaller and less detailed than this particular one.

Herriman got a day off on the 17th, but then came back on the 18th with two ambitious political cartoons. In the first he introduces a new icon to represent the Southern Pacific company, an octopus. He’d use this representation quite frequently from now on, and he was able to draw it very effectively. Unfortunately he was still in a rush, and the woman representing “public sentiment” is very badly drawn. Herriman seemed to be trying to spruce up the rushed drawing with a ton of crosshatching, most of which just turned to mud.

The final cartoon is better executed if rather unimaginative, but here Herriman had the opposite problem — a lot of his linework was too thin and barely reproduced in the paper. Of course my photocopying doesn’t help matters any, but much of the background drawing is almost invisible in the paper itself.

If anyone finds particular text in the cartoons hard to read just let me know and I’ll interpret. In the last cartoon the two tiny figures at the right side are tagged as Pardee and Black Hayes. Pardee says “Such dog demmy-tasse, such dog”, Hayes replies “Uh-Huh”.

5 comments on “Herriman Saturday

  1. Little to say, just to keep in exercise.
    Concerning “The Octopus” – According to http://www.streetcar.org/mim/spotlight/yesterday/octopus/index.html this menacing nickname was first used to define the SW Railroad in a San Francisco Chronicle article of February 19, 1895; I found an earlier use in the Nov 20 1894 Los Angeles Times and still earlier in a cartoon by Frederick Keller from “The Wasp” magazine (1887)
    (see < http://userwww.sfsu.edu/~aomendoz/rrca.htm>) probably the term it was already popularly diffused since the accidents of 1880 described in Frank Norris’ The Octopus (1901) (look in Google “Octopus” + Wikipedia” – For some reason the blog doesn’t accept the complete adress of the page>
    That’s all – All the best to everybody – Alfredo

  2. re the non-sequiturs in the dog show cartoon.
    the one at top right is surely a reference to Tad Dorgan. ‘Bunk’ was tad’s dog character around this time. These things can always also be a case of both artists referring to something commonplace we no longer know about, but the ‘New York Exhibit’ tends to support my suspicion, as well as the figure with long legs, which is how George represents Tad elsewhere. Allan is quick to dismiss this cartoon, but on the contrary i think we should see it as the first glimmer in all of the selections so far of the true Herriman. A great deal of Classic herriman reads like so many ‘non-sequiturs’ to the unacclimatized ear.

    Take back you disparaging words i say!!!

  3. Hi Eddie –
    I take a back seat to no Herrimaniac in my enjoyment of the master’s wordplay, and you may be right about the possible Tad reference. But I still say the cartoon is spinach and I say the hell with it.


  4. “Very badly drawn” for Herriman is still pretty freakin good for us modern day mere mortals.

    And yeah, I was having trouble making out the text, if you could post what they’re saying I would appreciate it.

  5. Hi Mad Dog –
    Here ya go, the whole thing (clockwise order from upper left, mostly):

    Caption:When The Dog Catcher Visits
    Man: “Who’d a thought it?”
    Dogs: “Skip”, “Breeze”, “Zip Along”, “Poke along, poke along, kid”, “well, well”, “Don’t hesitate”.

    Dog: “Now I wonder where that li’l runt’s gone and hid?”, “I wonder if that big stew knows who he’s sitting on”

    Bulldog: “Say wot is that dominant primordial beast anyhow?”

    Caption: Bunked Again
    Man: “Bunk I’m ashamed of you”
    Tag on dog: Booby
    Sign: New York Exhibit

    Winged dog caption: A “pipes” idea.
    Sign: Irish Setter (Irish mostly obscured)

    Two men and dachshund:
    Man 1: “Wot again, oh no oh no!!”
    Man 2: “Don’t git scared Mister, we keep ‘im curled up so’s to save room.”
    Sign: From Germany

    Cat: “Come on Mary it’s no place for use.”

    Sign: Arrived To (sic) Late To Be Classified
    Sausage: “Boow”
    Dog: “Alas”
    Sausages on ground: “You don’t catch me here again”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.