Obscurity of the Day: Mr. Broad of Wall Street

A quick glance at these strips, especially if your eyeglass prescription needs updating, tells you that you’re looking at George McManus art. A closer glance will have you thinking George must have been drawing these with his left foot. But no, this isn’t the work of George McManus, but rather his brother Charles.

Charles made a little cottage industry out of this bargain basement version of his brother’s style. In some of Charles’ strips it is pretty clear that brother George either gave him a hand or provided model sheets from which Charles could copy.

Charles’ longest-running creation was Dorothy Darnit, but he also penned this strip, Mr. Broad of Wall Street, for the same outfit, Bell Syndicate. Mr. Broad debuted on December 5 1921, changed names to Freddie the Financier on March 27 1922, and is last found running new material on April 7 1923. As with Dorothy Darnit, though, the strip was resold to country papers for many years afterward. I’ve seen Mr. Broad running as late as 1932.

What I find interesting about Mr. Broad is that the art is a full step above the quality of the Dorothy Darnit strips, which are really pretty cringe-worthy. Did Charles get more help from his brother on this one, did he apply himself more to this one for some reason, or did he employ a ghost? I dunno.

I do know that the brothers were pretty close. Charles eventually got a high-level position at King Features, presumably but not definitely on George’s coat-tails, and my impression is that Charles was no bumbling fool but rather had a pretty good head for management and business. But very little has been written about him, so to try and decipher the relationship between the two, and how much of Charles’ success was directly due to his famed brother, is up in the air.

Thanks to Mark Johnson for the scans!

3 comments on “Obscurity of the Day: Mr. Broad of Wall Street

  1. Charles W. McManus was born in St. Louis, Missouri in July 1880 as recorded in the Registry of Births, City of St. Louis; the partially obscured day of birth looks like 30. On his World War I Draft Registration Card, the partially obscured day of birth looks like 31; his middle name looks like "Waldaull". The California Death Index recorded his day of birth as 3.

    According to the 1900 U.S. Federal Census, Charles was the second of three sons born to George and Kate; Leo was born four years before Charles who was followed by George Jr. two years later. Charles was a salesman of dry goods. The family lived in St. Louis.

    In 1910 Charles and his parents lived at 549 West 113th Street in Manhattan, New York City. His occupation was printer in advertising.

    Charles signed his World War I draft card on September 9, 1918. He lived with his parents at 551 West 170th Street in Manhattan. His occupation was clerk at the Boyle Robertson Company. His description was short height, medium build with brown eyes and dark hair.

    In the 1920 census Charles lived with his mother at the same address just mentioned. His occupation was artist in the comic picture business.

    Charles passed away on August 31, 1941. His death was reported in the New York Times on September 1.

    Brother of George—Idea Man for 'Bringing Up Father' Cartoon

    Charles W. McManus, silent collaborator in the creation of the comic
    strip "Bringing Up Father" and brother of George McManus, the
    cartoonist, died today, after a brief illness, in the Queen of the Angeles
    [sic] Hospital. His age was 61.

    Mr. McManus, as an idea man, aided his bother in depicting the
    antics of Jiggs and other familiar ironies of the Irish character. He
    was also an artist, at one time producing the cartoon feature of
    "Tiny" and "Mr. Wall in Broad street [sic]."

    George McManus, who resided in New York, visited in Southern
    California frequently to consult with his brother and had been here
    for the last three months.

    Another brother, Leo McManus of New York, also survives.

    by Alex Jay

  2. Thanks Cole, and I've updated the post to properly credit your brother, Charles (good one!).

    Alex, this is interesting stuff. Don't recall having read that Charles helped with gags on BUF before, though I suppose it's natural. I could swear I saw a memo from George to Charles from 1943 regarding the new third-page format for the strip, but that just shows how addled my gray matter is. Thanks for setting me straight.


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