Obscurity of the Day: Willie

Over a decade before Hal Forrest found his claim to fame as the artist, and later sole creator, of Tailspin Tommy, he made an early foray into the world of newspaper cartooning at the Philadelphia Record. The strip was untitled but featured a precocious little boy named Willie, so Willie I hereby christen the strip. The strip only ran five times. The first four were daily style outings (though printed on Sundays), while the fifth was a larger Sunday-style half page strip (but still in black and white). The first four episodes appeared January 16 to February 13 1916, and then the half-pager ran on April 2 1916.

According to an otherwise pretty reliable sounding website about Tailspin Tommy and its creator, Forrest’s first pro work was at the Philadelphia Telegraph in 1911, a strip called Percy the Boy Scout. I haven’t indexed the 1911 Telegraph, but I’m a bit skeptical of that claim, especially since the author says next “he collaborated with Lee Pape, author of Little Benny’s Notebook, on a Sunday page of colored comics in the Philadelphia Record.” This was supposedly sometime in 1915-17, but that paper I have indexed and I say it didn’t happen. There is, however, Willie, which wasn’t mentioned.

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