Obscurity of the Day: The Man With an Elephant on his Hands

Here’s one of my favorite comic strip titles, The Man With an Elephant on his Hands. Sounds like something Damon Runyan might have written about a loveable gangster who steals an elephant from a circus and then tries to unload it. However, this strip is actually doing an homage (which sounds a lot nicer than a rip-off) to a song of the same name. The song was originally featured in the 1891 musical play Wang, a comedy about a Siamese monarch. The play was revived in 1904, and apparently inspired cartoonist Everrett E. Lowry to do this strip. Yes, that really is how he spelled his first name.

Lowry produced a lot of features for the McClure Syndicate. This one only ran from January 15 to March 19 1905, and came and went while he was producing no less that three other features for McClure. I don’t think it’s too hard to imagine that the short run of this strip came as a result of a ‘cease and desist’ letter.

Lowry produced like mad for McClure during this period, but he was active much longer, and he really spread the wealth. His features appeared at one time or another with no less than seven different syndicates.

Tip of the hat to Cole Johnson for the scan. Thanks Cole!

6 comments on “Obscurity of the Day: The Man With an Elephant on his Hands

  1. Hello, Allan—This was the plot of several silent comedies as well. One featured an early appearance of Lon Chaney! In 1920, a company was formed, the "Elephant Producing Corporation", to make nothing but such comedies. They got as far as two, and went bankrupt. One of them, AN ELEPHANT ON HIS HANDS with Hughey Mack and Dot Farley, survives, and it's hilarious. Who can resist watching an elephant knock down hotel walls and squirting people with his trunk?—Cole Johnson.

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