Clare Briggs was not above using his characters in marketing, as can be seen in this 1917 ad for the B&M clothing store in Iowa City. Briggs’ kids are usually a bit ragged around the edges and in need of a bath, but he’s cleaned them up here and decked them out in the finest the B&M has to offer.
Given that a small clothing store in Iowa City is unlikely to have made a deal with Briggs on their own, I guess the cartoonist was offering niche-specific pre-made cuts through a marketing firm. He probably got the idea from Richard Outcault, who made a very nice cottage industry out of selling cuts of the Yellow Kid and Buster Brown to local stores of various specialties.
Thanks to Cole Johnson for the scan.