Obscurity of the Day: Do’s and Don’ts

According to researcher Tim Jackson, Do’s and Don’ts belongs here in our salute to Mel Tapley. He claims that the creator, ‘Stann Pat’, is Tapley. It stands to reason — Tapley’s middle name being Stan and Pat being Tap backwards. However, I cannot completely squelch this nagging voice in my head that says the quality of the cartooning on this feature eclipses Tapley’s usual work and then some. The skilled use of the grease crayon, the strong anatomy and panel design really don’t quite find their matches in other Tapley productions. Why he would reserve some of his best work to appear under a pseudonym is a mystery. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. On the other hand, Jackson apparently met and interviewed Tapley before his death in 2005, so perhaps Tapley himself claimed credit for the feature, and the pseudonym certainly seems to be a red flag.

In any case, whether ‘Stann Pat’ is Tapley or not, it’s an interesting feature. Black papers made a habit of trying to ‘improve the race’ with both cartoon and prose admonishments about good behavior. The case was made over and over in the  pages of the black press that the race would more quickly gain the respect and rights they wanted if they had good manners and behaved well in public. Do’s and Don’ts was one of a handful of cartoon features that tried to drive this message home.

Do’s and Don’ts was syndicated by Continental Features and the earliest appearance I find is August 30 1943 in the Atlanta World. The feature appears sporadically (and most likely late) in its pages until 1948. A very similar feature, also bylined by Stann Pat, was Your Public Conduct; it ran for a few months in 1944 — it may just be an alternate title for Do’s and Don’ts.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.