Charles D. Small seemed to always be stuck taking up the slack where other cartoonists left off. He lived in Cleveland in 1925 and got on with NEA there, and his first signed assignment was Mudd Center Folks. NEA had just lost the panel cartoon series The Old Home Town to Johnson Features and the syndicate had Small provide a replacement. His version was Mudd Center Folks, in my opinion a much superior feature. Small did not follow the lead of Lee Stanley, whose Old Home Town was a rather frantic and slapstick look at small town life. Small instead chose a warmer, folksier approach that owed more to another NEA panel, J.R. Williams’ Out Our Way. The drawing style is very much like Williams’, and the gags are gentle.
This excellent feature didn’t immediately catch on as a replacement to The Old Home Town. Many NEA clients chose to continue the original feature through its new syndicate, and just how many folksy panels does a newspaper need? Even though Mudd Center Folks came free as part of the NEA package service, it ran in few papers. A shame really.
After Mudd Center Folks, Small continued to pick up where other cartoonists left off. There was Bugs, the radio panel, and then the long-running Salesman Sam, in which Small did such a perfect impersonation of George Swanson that you can’t tell one from the other without looking for the signature.
Mudd Center Folks ran from July 6 1925 to April 20 1926.
Tomorrow: an Ink-Slinger Portrait of C.D. Small