Obscurity of the Day: The Sorrows of Solomon Swellhead

A well-drawn entry from World Color Printing’s first ‘official’ year of existence, The Sorrows of Solomon Swellhead takes the term ‘swelled head’ and draws it literally, with the arrogant Solomon’s noggin growing ever larger until his ego his punctured. The cartoonist on this feature, L. Edgren, may or may not be kin to the more famous sports cartoonist Robert Edgren. I just don’t know. This strip is the only known series to be signed with this monicker. One thing’s for sure, L. Edgren certainly hadn’t mastered the art of placing word balloons in the proper order for reading. Amazing how this seemingly obvious and simple convention just didn’t seem to come naturally for some early cartoonists.

The series began on May 8 1904, and the end date is unclear because World Color played pretty fast and loose that year. In the San Francisco Call the last episode ran on October 23, but we know that many strips from the first half of the year were used later as more papers were added to the WCP service roster around mid-year. One of these days I really must get busy and cross-reference the contents of the New York Daily News (early adopter/possible origination point of World Color Printing) with papers that picked up the service in mid-1904.

Wondering about some of the turn of the century pop references? Chauncey Olcott was a very dapper entertainer famed for writing several enduring Irish ditties. Eugen Sandow was a famed bodybuilder and strongman.

Thanks to Cole Johnson for the scans!

2 comments on “Obscurity of the Day: The Sorrows of Solomon Swellhead

  1. Allan, Alex Jay had posted a profile of Edgren that now seesm to have disappeared from here. Perhaps you can repost it?

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