This strip is about a spinster, Lucinda, who runs a boarding house. One of her boarders is Buck Bee, an uncouth cowboy type. Lucinda has fallen for him, and fallen hard. Wackiness, of course, ensues as Lucinda pursues the thoroughly uninterested Mr. Bee. I initially thought that the characters might be intended as actual bees — note the apparent antennae on Lucinda’s head — but I eventually found a strip in which Lucinda’s hair curls are the butt of a joke.
Lucinda and Buck Bee ran on the World Color Printing weekly black-and-white kids page from about December 1918 to about June 1919*. The specific dates are uncertain because subscribing papers tended to play fast and loose with the publishing schedules for these pages. Alex Jay found a whole batch of them printed in the Elmira Telegram in May and June 1918, but they were apparently running a batch of samples sent out by WCP. Do sample strips, perhaps sent out well in advance of intended publication, count as original publication? Hmm. Gonna have to think about that one.
A good portion of the content of those World Color weekly black and white pages was old material bought by the syndicate to recycle, but I’ve been unable to find Lucinda and Buck Bee appearing anywhere earlier, so it seems like it may be an original.
The strip is credited to Belle Strode, of whom I know nothing (but Alex Jay seems to have tracked her down; watch for tomorrow’s Ink-Slinger Profile). Most of the material that World Color used on those weekly pages was second or third rate at best, but Lucinda and Buck Bee is actually pretty well written and drawn. Or maybe it just looks good in comparison to the rest of the page …
* Sources: Taunton Gazette and Lincoln Journal-Star