If you just take a passing glance at Walter Wellman’s If strips, you assume you’re in for some saccharine little versified tales of little boys frolicking in fantasy land. But then you read one and that whole hypothesis goes out the window. Wellman, loose screw that he was, seems to have taken a dare from some bullpen wag to create a strip guaranteed to give kids nightmares. If my vote counts, Wellman won the bet.
If, in which a boy named Willie (of course) is tortured by inanimate objects and animals bent on his destruction, is truly deranged. Given that it ran in the Boston Herald‘s comic section near the end of its run, you start to understand where ol’ sourpuss William Haskell was coming from when he called the section “vulgar” and “tawdry.” If ran from March 17 1907 to January 12 1908.
Walter Wellman was an incredibly prolific cartoonist with an immediately recognizeable style, but he’s under-represented in my Stripper’s Guide listings because he spent a good portion of his time on non-series work. Even some of his series are so quirky that they’re hard to track. Luckily in the Sunday color sections at least he toed the line and produced coherent series.
Her’s another Wellman series, Oh, Where, Oh, Where, Has That Willie Boy Gone (see what I’m talkin’ about with all those darn kids named Willie?).