Obscurity of the Day: Casey the Cop

When United Press decided to get into the syndicated feature game in 1922, United Feature Syndicate started out with just two comic strips (that I know of). One was Al Posen’s Them Days are Gone Forever, a cute rhyming strip, and the other was Casey the Cop by Harold M. Talburt. Both were quality features, but in my opinion Casey the Cop was the star attraction and had the potential of being a blockbuster hit that would run for decades.

You wouldn’t expect too much from a feature about a dim-witted cop. Those had been a staple of comics pages practically since they were invented, and they were pretty stale and formulaic. However, Talburt’s sense of the absurd combined with his superior cartooning ability revived the genre and cooked up a daily dose of deliciously gourmet wackiness. Even when a gag doesn’t really work (the bottom strip for example), the expressive physicality of Casey, the ridiculous hat on the flapper, and a very rare female jump-out-of-the-panel take make readers not care much if the ‘official’ gag isn’t up to par — they’re too busy grinning over the presentation. (The other three samples above are each firing on all eight cylinders in my opinion; I laughed out loud at #3).

Unfortunately, Casey was created for a very small start-up syndicate by a creator who definitely had bigger plans for his career. Maybe if the strip had found a long list of subscribers from the start, Talburt and his syndicate would have stuck with it, but they didn’t, and Talburt shortly gave up the strip and went on to a long career in editorial cartooning, even winning the Pulitzer in 1933.

The delightful Casey the Cop ran from March 6 1922* to June 23 1923**.

* Source: Brooklyn Eagle
** Source: Albany Evening Herald

7 comments on “Obscurity of the Day: Casey the Cop

  1. As we all know, and as you note in the text,
    it is United Feature Syndicate – the "Feature" being singular.
    But the copyright notice on the displayed strips read "Features" – plural.
    Any idea how long that lasted?

  2. Hi DD — It was Tom Heintjes who pointed out the lack of an 's' on UFS to me many years ago when I made the error on an article I wrote for Hogan's Alley. I still have to remind myself every time I type in the name to be sure to drop the 'S'. As for how long the 'S' stood when they first got rolling, that's hard to answer. Looking at newspapers online, I see the copyright without an 's' right from the beginning of Casey in other papers. Why it was given with an 'S' in the Buffalo Express (whence my samples came) is a mystery. Looks like a normal syndicate slug to me, but I guess the newspaper typecast it themselves. — Allan

    PS — DD, is Daily Cartoonist no longer sending emails? Mine stopped, and its not going into spam as best I can tell.

  3. I can't help but notice that the "S" in "Features" is misaligned from the rest of the copyright slug. Which makes me thing somebody added that in later.

  4. Allan – I asked around and apparently some people still get emails on occasion (for whatever reason),
    but according to the powers in charge they are "not something we’re actively supporting or maintaining."

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