Obscurity of the Day: The Demon Demonstrator

Here’s a real one-note strip from the pen of Russ Westover, The Demon Demonstrator. Funny enough but awfully repetitive. Salesman shows off his wares, demo backfires. What really saved the strip was Westover’s snappy dialogue, which livened up the proceedings quite a bit and kept New York World readers from getting bored with the same old, same old.

The strip ran on an inside page of the Sunday funnies section  in quarter-page format from June 13 1920 to February 6 1921. It was right at this time that Westover jumped ship to the Hearst camp and introduced his new daily, Tillie the Toiler, which would prove so popular that a Sunday would be added the next year.

7 comments on “Obscurity of the Day: The Demon Demonstrator

  1. Hi Brad —
    She's an immigrant — probably Dutch, Norwegian or some such — and (according to the humorists of the time) they say 'bane' a lot in place of 'have','are', or 'am'. So for instance "I bane going to the market" is either "I am going to the market" or "I have been to the market".


  2. In the 50s, reading and hearing old old jokes, I got the impression that "bane" was somehow derived from Scandinavian languages, mostly Swedish. If we looked into it, I bet we'd find bane as a verb form in Swedish.

  3. Definitely Swedish. The Swede, though not so apparent today, was once a large segment of the immigrants to our shores, and, like any incoming nationality, was caricatured into the into the popular culture venues like movies, comic strips (remember "Yens Yensen, Yanitor" or "Phyllis"?) and vaudeville. The dialect was well established long before talkies, though by then the Swedish wave of immigrants had died down. Philadelphian El Brendel made a career out of playing the dumb Swede with that dialect. Beery's early comedy character in drag was named "Sweedie", a rather imposing scrub woman/laundry worker/kitchen help, sort of like a real life Powerful Katrinka.

  4. A comic-book Swede who way outlasted the immigration trends was Olaf of the Blackhawks. As I recall he said "ban" rather than "bane." And, of course, "Yumpin' Yiminy."

    This being the Christmas season I must also salute "Yogi Yorgesson" (Harry Skarbo), who hit the Top 10 in 1949 with "I Yust Go Nuts at Christmas," a very funny song, dialect or no dialect.

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