Obscurity of the Day: Jocko

GAR was one of the most prolific cartoonists at the Chicago Daily News in the 1900s, and that is no small feat considering that he was contending with the prodigious likes of George Frink, Ted Brown and C.F. Batchelder. GAR’s favorite subjects were jungle animals; although his allotted spaces were tiny, he populated his tiny panels with vast menageries.

The problem for this indexer is that GAR’s jungle strips all sort of blend together, and since running titles were rarely used in the Chicago Daily News, picking out individual series is rather like trying to sort snowflakes. With GAR and his jungle animals I almost threw up my hands in despair. Several discrete jungle titles are indexed in my Stripper’s Guide listings, but the ones that often starred monkeys in 1902-03 are indexed under the title Jocko. Jocko was the most often named simian when the series ‘started’ (I use the term loosely, of course) on August  4 1902. This was also essentially GAR’s first jungle animal strip of any kind; before that date he did mostly single panel cartoons, which I made no attempt to index (there were upwards of a dozen per daily page, and identifiable series were exceedingly rare).

Although Jocko really did start off being the star of the show, GAR soon added many other animals to the mix, often referring to them under the nigh-anonymous names of Mr. Elephant, Mr. Lion, etc. Then later in 1902 GAR seems to forget that his monkey star was named Jocko and starts referring to him as Chatters more often (see samples above). By 1903 the thread of a continuing strip is lost — GAR is producing all sorts of jungle strips, sometimes with new continuing characters but usually with anonymous animals. So to say that the Jocko, or Chatters, strip ends on some specific date is to engage in folly. Let us say that it petered out as a discrete series in mid- or late-1903 and be content with that.

GAR has previously been misidentified on this blog as K.E. Garman, and yet earlier in my research I thought GAR was Gar Schmitt. Tomorrow Alex Jay will put the kibosh on all that by unveiling his true identity.

Thanks to Cole Johnson for the samples!

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