Obscurity of the Day: The Gentle Touch

We’ve discussed the short-lived Boston Traveler syndicate here before; it started in 1908 and pretty much petered out before the end of 1911. The Traveler traded exclusively in weekday strips, and with the exception of C.A. Vioght, most of their bullpen gang were relative unknowns. That doesn’t mean, however, that they were all bad. No, the editor at the Traveler had a pretty good eye for cartoonist horseflesh. One of the brightest of his merry band was William Stevens, who produced a few series for the syndicate in the 1908-10 period. Unfortunately, these series seem to be the sum total of his cartooning output. While the common name makes IDing him questionable, I think he is likely to be William Lester Stevens, who became somewhat notable in fine art.

The Gentle Touch, which ran on weekdays from July 6 1909 to January 21 1910, would be Stevens’ final series for the Traveler. Although the gag is repetitive, the sumptuous drawing and wonderful attention to body language and facial expression make every episode a lesson in how to bring interest to depicting a conversation in a comic strip.

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