Obscurity of the Day: Seatless Sam, The Subway Gink

Here’s a great strip that Clare Victor “Dwig” Dwiggins did for the New York Evening World. The weekday strip started on October 24 1911 under the title of Seatless Sam, the Subway Gink, then on November 21 changed to Sammy and the Subway – The Quest of a Seat. The series ran until December 28 1911.

This was the heyday of the New York evening papers, when strips came and went at the whim of the creators, and ephemeral subjects and matters specific to New York City were embraced rather than shunned. Later these newspapers would realize that strips with local content could not be successfully syndicated.

Dwig always turns in delightful material, but I especially like this strip, specifically the part of the series in which Sammy is girl-hunting on the subway (top two examples). I love it that Dwig gave such wonderful smart droll dialogue to those girls. In those days beautiful girls were almost always either portrayed as demure debs or gum-chewing airheads. I suspect any attractive girl riding the subway in those days had better be in the tough Dwig mold, not a china doll, to hold her own.

One comment on “Obscurity of the Day: Seatless Sam, The Subway Gink

  1. Even in those days, the IRT and the BRT (later the BMT) were known for being very noisy and crowded (see, for example, the description of the subway in P.G. Wodehouse's novel "Psmith Journalist," set in New York right about this time). Finding a seat on the subway would have been difficult, indeed, and something readers would have related to, easily. The World's headquarters on Park Row was scant yards from the very first station opened, near City Hall.

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