Category : Mystery Strips

Mystery Strips: Whatta Life and Kampus Keeds

Winter is coming on and that means outside projects finally get put on hold and the Stripper gets to spend a lot more time in his archives. And what work awaits him there? Giant teetering piles that must be put under control, itemized, categorized, inventoried and put to bed in their rightful places. And what that means is that he turns up mysteries at a fair clip. 

Today that mystery goes beyond a comic strip, it started out as a whole doggone newspaper. What I have here is the May 6 1933 edition of the New York News. Nothing mysterious about that, you say? Nah, I didn’t say Daily News, just News. It’s a black newspaper published out of New York City, a city that already had a black “News” paper — the Amsterdam News. At first I wondered if the Amsterdam News experimented with this as a new name, but no dice there. Finally I found a slight mention of a paper called the New York News and Harlem Home Journal on WorldCat, but the listing offers no information except that it was published in the 1910s-30s. Jumping to my books on black journalism history, I find that not one of them mentions this paper, at least as far as the indexes are concerned. Jumping over to the Library of Congress listings, I learned that there are only two reels of microfilm for the paper known to exist, partial years from 1921 and 1927. Now that’s what I call a newspaper that flew beneath the radar. 

So here’s the front page headline area and the indicia, plus a snippet of a tirade against other black papers below the indicia. 

 Okay, so the newspaper is no longer a complete mystery, just very, very obscure. Why do we care? Naturally I wouldn’t be beating my typing fingers to the bone here if there weren’t comics somewhere in this story. And yes there are, in fact two of them. This issue include strips of Kampus Keeds and Whatta Life, both by a Lucille Fitzgerald. Being 1933, and assuming that Lucille was African-American, she would be the very first known published black female cartoonist, pre-dating Jackie Ormes by four years.

 

The only problem for me is that I’d love to put these strips in my database, but with only one sample of each I have no proof they were series. I know this is a real longshot, but any help out there??

3 comments on “Mystery Strips: Whatta Life and Kampus Keeds

  1. Being historically illiterate, I looked up Father Divine on Wikipedia. A controversial figure, his religious movement boasted considerable resources. Wondering if this barely-a-footnote publication was sponsored in whole or in part to counter more critical press. Perhaps it was primarily aimed at his followers with little circulation beyond, which would help explain why it didn't seem to last beyond some incomplete archives or attract attention from newspaper historians, who might have dismissed it as a house organ. Conceivably it stopped publishing altogether for stretches.

  2. Interesting thought. I confess I had Father Divine mixed up with Father Coughlin, so I had to go read about him. Since he moved his base of operations to Harlem in 1932, he could just have been a subject of interest in 1933 when this paper was published, or, as you say, he was now behind it. He certainly is all over it.

  3. A.J. Liebling's "Profile" of Divine in the New Yorker in 1936 was one of the biggest mainstream examinations of Divine in that era, and I think has been anthologized.

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Posted in Mystery Strips3 Comments on Mystery Strips: Whatta Life and Kampus Keeds

Mystery Strips: Tomorrow’s Comics

Although the headline says this is a mystery strip post, this one’s not so much mysterious as just so exceedingly rare I don’t really know what to do with it.We’re going to cover the whole range of a syndicate’s offerings today, the comics of Argonaut Entertainment.

Never heard of them? Well, you’re not alone. I’d never heard of them until Charles Brubaker stumbled upon a whole page’s worth of unfamiliar comics in a 1994 issue of the Gaffney (SC) Ledger. Here’s a sample:

The lineup consists of Bots by Ron Matzov, Dagney by Kelly Kennedy, Franky and Ralph by Moira Manion, Grey Matter by London and Chianca, Hobnob Inn by Paige Anderson, Time Trek by Jack Warren, Pipo and Company by Tomé, Amber Waves by Dave T. Phipps, Off The Top by Carl Jung and David Evans, Everything’s O.K. by O.K. Elkins, Clancy by John Brundige, Carlos by Roy Delgado, Lunatic Fringe by Wardo, and Leadbellies by Thomas Burton. 

The only feature with which I was familiar was Phipps’ Amber Waves, which was later syndicated by King Features Weekly Service, and continues to this day as far as I know.

This lineup stayed consist through the entire run in the Gaffney Ledger. And here’s where we get to the problem. The Gaffney Ledger, a thrice weekly paper, ran the page from November 6 to December 4 in their ‘experimental’ Sunday edition (the longstanding Monday edition moved to Sunday and added a few extra features) — a total of five times. The paper announced after this five week trial run that the Sunday paper had not been the big seller they were hoping for, so they moved it back to Monday and dropped the extra features, including the page from Argonaut Entertainment. 

So not only did I have a mysterious page of ultra-obscure comics, but with a five week run I had to ask myself whether it qualified for listing in my Stripper’s Guide database. After all, I have said in the past that features that appear only in ‘test runs’ don’t qualify — they have to be used as regular features. They might have really, really short runs, but they can’t just be mere samples. 

So, more digging, and I eventually came up with another run, this time in the Charlottesville (VA) Observer. This was a year earlier, and lasted … hmm, what a coincidence … five weekly appearances. The page ran from August 5 to September 2. The line-up changed slightly each week. Here’s a sample page:

The complete line-up over the five week period was as follows (number in parentheses is a count of the times the feature appeared): Cuff & Rubin by Curt Brandao (5), The Brass & Fern by Steve Riehm (5), Dagney by Kelly Kennedy (2), Franky & Ralph by Moira Manion (5), The Purple Ort by Dan Fikes (4), The Art of Living by Valerie Costantino (2), Mum’s The Word by Dan Rosandich (2), Business As Usual by Steve Brackett (2), Carlos by Roy Delgado (3), Leadbellies by Thomas Burton (3), At A Glance by Michael J. Saporito (3), Everything’s O.K. by O.K. Elkins (4), and The Real World by Steve McNeon (1). 

Now with a second sample run in hand, we at least also had a syndicate name and the headline “Tomorrow’s Comics.” That was the clue that helped answer the big question, “Just what the heck is this stuff?”

It turns out that Argonaut Entertainment was primarily a creator of comic book inserts for college newspapers. The name of the comic book? Tomorrow’s Comics, of course. There are apparently seven known issues, and you can see one of them here appearing in the Oregon Daily Emerald, and here in the Miami Hurricane. The comic books offered readers short runs of a big batch of daily style strips by what they billed as some of the brightest young undiscovered cartoonists. It was actually not a bad idea, and the publisher obviously had standards, because most of the strips are gifted amateur to semi-professional level. Learning the name of the publisher also led me to this advertisement in Editor & Publisher, from July 28 1990:

And I found that the publisher’s Tomorrow Comics page was offered in the E&P listings from 1991-94. Whether they had any takers in mainstream papers beyond test runs is, of course, the $64 question. So please Please PLEASE if you know of a paper that ran the page on a regular ongoing basis, contact me so that all these features can find a permanent place in the Stripper’s Guide database. Or, if you know anything about the syndication, or are one of the creators, I’d love to hear your story.

I found a few other interesting tidbits while trolling the interwebs looking for more information. First one concerns  the comic strip Franky and Ralph, by Moira Manion. The strip was about a fox and snake that end up living in encroaching suburbia when their native habitat disappears. This, of course, is the central thesis of Over The Hedge as well, and in 2006 there was a minor flap about whether Fry and Lewis might have been inspired by this earlier feature; the story was covered by Minnesota Public Radio.

Besides Amber Waves, I found one other feature that lived beyond Tomorrow’s Comics. Hobnob Inn, in addition to becoming an early webcomic, ran weekly in the Virginia Gazette from June 28 1997 to October 10 1998. 

Thanks for much of this information from Charles Brubaker!




6 comments on “Mystery Strips: Tomorrow’s Comics

  1. I am quite familiar with this source, as I did submit features to it years ago. They even showed some interest to one of my submissions, in fact, though turned it down a second time. I may have seen an ad for this source either in E&P, or in CARTOONIST PROfiles, or in Don Cook's "The Funnies Paper" fanzine.

  2. Grey Matter by London and Chianca

    London and Chianca are Dave London and Pete Chianca. They currently do a webcomic "Pet Peeves" (full disclosure: they interviewed me for their podcast). Their "About Us" page does mention "Grey Matter", saying it ran in over 100 newspapers in US and Canada. I wonder how many of those 100 papers are college publications, tho.

    https://www.petpeevescomic.com/about_us

  3. I tracked down one of the cartoonists, Ron Matzov, and asked him about Argonaut. This is what he wrote:

    "My understanding of their business strategy is that they were trying to access the untapped market of the thousands of weekly and biweekly community papers. The syndicates weren’t supplying weekly papers, so Argonaut offered community papers a weekly supply of ‘free' cartoons from their roster of 50 artists. Argonaut provided free page-layout services and email delivery. They were based in Cincinnati. Lenny Dave was my contact at Argonaut. The expectation was that some of the comics would catch on, and eventually create merchandising opportunities. I viewed them as a startup cartoon syndicate for small/local newspapers. Around 1994, Argonaut had a list of enrolled weekly papers in the U.S. and Canada with a combined reach of around 1.2 million people weekly. I think they may have had a couple of conventional newspapers on the list. I actually don’t know what happened to them after that, or why they shut down."

  4. If I had a nickel for every startup syndicate that thought weekly papers were a vast untapped market just waiting for them to exploit it … well, I wouldn't be rich, but I'd have quite a stack of nickels. –Allan

  5. At the time that I submitted a few comics to them, I was honestly not sure what type of publications they were targeting. But, for some reason, I was guessing that it was not the typical distributors that targeted daily newspapers.

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Posted in Mystery Strips6 Comments on Mystery Strips: Tomorrow’s Comics

E&P Mystery Strips: Letter ‘S’

 I stalled out on this series with letter ‘R’ in 2013, but here are the ‘S’es and all it took was slightly less than a decade! 

Okay, here’s how this works, for those who haven’t been keeping up with the whirlwind pace. The Editor & Publisher Syndicate Yearbooks, published from 1924 until 2010, listed theoretically all the available syndicated features, including comic strips and panels. Those listings often included features that I’ve never been able to locate. Some of them, no doubt, never appeared anywhere and were just wishful thinking. But if you look at previous letters, and the later exclamations of discovery from myself and others, some of these features can and do let themselves be found by the most intrepid researchers.

Therefore your task, if you wish to accept it, is to go forth on a hard target search of every research library, online digital newspaper archive and the material in your own collection, and report back to Stripper’s Guide Central with your discoveries. 

Title

Creator(s)

Syndicate

Advertised Format/Frequency

Years Advertised

Notes/Status (blank means still a mystery)

Saddle Sore

Frank Barnett

American International

Daily panel

1989-91

 

Saddle Sores

George Alblitz

Trans World News

Daily strip

1976-78

 

Saint Paul & Duncan

David Watkins, Wayne Dunifon

Suzerain

Daily panel

1992-95

 

Saltwood

D. Leahy, Piper

Columbia Features

Daily

1988-89

 

Sam & Max, Freelance Police

Steve Purcell

At Large Features

Weekly strip

2001-02

No mention of a newspaper series on the charcaters’ Wikipedia page.

Sam Mantics

Carey Orr Cook

Sam Mantics Enterprises

Twice weekly strip

1990-93

 

Sam Scout

W.Clay, Len Glasgow, Lane, Mead, Warkentin

World News Syndicate

Daily/Sunday strip

1972-77

 

Sampson

Ken and Lorretta Bank

Dickson-Bennett

Daily panel

1984

 

San Victorino

Gamez

Colombian Comics

Daily/Sunday strip

1990-96

 

Sandcastles

Greg Curfman

Sandcastles Syndicate

Weekly strip

1976

 

Sandlot Sammy

Harry E. Godwin

Quaker Features

Daily strip

1925

 

Sandy’s World

Roy Doty

Paradigm-TSA

Daily/Sunday strip

1999

 

Santigwar

R. Lee

American International

Daily strip

1987-89

 

Sargent MacDoogle

Rick Wilson

Wilson Syndicate

Daily panel

1975-76

 

Sassafrass Tea

Bob Howard

Bob Howard Enterprises

Weekly panel

1973

 

Sassy Makes Three

Arlene Rowles, Ann Mace

Cascade Features

Weekly

1990

 

Saturn Against The Earth

Uncredited

Press Alliance

Weekly strip

1940

 

School Daze

John Owens

American International

Daily panel

1993-94

 

Scientific Sam

Maurice Beam

Universal Press

Daily strip

1935

 

Scoop Roundtree

Nathan Diggs, J. Anderson

Amadou Features

Weekly strip

1973

 

Scorer

John Gillatt, Barrie Tomlinson

North America Syndicate

Daily strip

1992-98

Well-known British strip, but did it appear in US newspapers?

Scotty the Wonder Dog

E.I. Reed

Miller Features

Daily strip

1939-40

 

Scrappy

Charles Mintz

Eisner-Iger Associates

Daily/weekly strip

1937

Is this the same as the known “Scrappy Sayings” panels?

Scraps

Michael Wakinyan

United Cartoonist Syndicate

Daily

1987-88

 

Screams

Guy Gilchrist, Ralph Hagen

DBR Media

Weekly panel

2002-2000s

 

Scroll of Fame

A.S. Curtis

Self-syndicated

Sunday strip

1951-61

 

Scruffles

Uncredited

TV Compulog

Weekly strip

1976

 

The Sea Hawk

Uncredited

Eric Jon Inc.

Weekly strip

1955-61

 

Sea Rations

James Estes

Star-Telegram Syndicate

Daily strip

1974

 

Seaweed

Johnny Sajem

Trans World News/Allied Press

Daily strip

1977-81

 

Sebastian

Alex Stefanson

Dickson-Bennett/Weekly Features

Daily panel

1984-85

 

See For Yourself

Uncredited

Associated Press

Weekly

1946

 

Seems Funny But It’s True

Ralph S. Matz

Matz Features/Unique Features

Daily strip

1936-39

 

Seven Errors

F. Hays

BP Singer

Weekly

1976-78

 

Shakespeare Plays

Luzny

Canada Wide Features

Daily strip

1947-48

Any distribution in US?

Shamrocks

Kessler, McCarty

Kay Features

Daily panel

1932-33

 

Shanghai Lil

Sarge O’Neill

Southern Cartoon Syndicate

Daily panel

1970-78

 

Sheena, Queen of the Jungle

W. Morgan Thomas

Eisner-Iger Associates

Weekly strip

1938-39

 

Sheriff of Pina Coda

Mike Moen

Suzerain

Daily strip

1986

 

Sherlock Home

Bob Goodbread

Dickson-Bennett

Daily panel

1984

 

Sheroderfield

Jeff Koterba

Dickson-Bennett

Weekly strip

1980-81

 

Sherwood

Robert Nunn

Weekly Features/American Way Features

Daily strip

1986-88

 

Sherwood Forest

Mike Bannon, Dave Gregory

Dickson-Bennett

Daily/weekly strip

1981-84

 

Short Cake

Pedro Moreno

United Cartoonist Syndicate

Daily panel

1982

 

Short Stuff

Jack Flynn

Trans World/Dickson-Bennett

Daily strip

1978-84

 

Short Short Stories

Charles Hendrick Jr.

Continental Features

Weekly panel

1998-2000s

 

Showcase for New Cartoonists

John Shepherd

Self-syndicated

Weekly strip

1993

 

Side Laughs

William Ferguson

NEA

Weekly strip

1937

 

Side Show

Oz Black, E.H. Peterson

Inter-American Newspaper/Thompson Service

Daily panel

1934-36

 

Sideline

Rick Goldsberry

American International

Daily panel

1990-91

 

Sign-o-Rama

M.W. Martin

Self-syndicated

Daily panel

1970-79

 

Silent Sam

Kern Pederson

American International

Daily strip

1988-98

 

Silky ‘n Vixen

Russ De Marks

Russell Enterprises

Daily strip

1969-71

 

Silly Dillies

Bob Lagers

Ledger Syndicate

Daily panel

1967-70

 Found! by Charles Brubaker in Pittsburgh Press.

Simon Cool

Jerry Breen

Allied Press

Daily strip

1980

 

Simple Interest

Anthony Schultz

J Features

Weekly panel

1998-2000s

 

Simpleman

Wim Van Wieringen

Douglas Whiting Limited

Unstated

1959

Dutch – appeared in US?

Single Again

Michael Byrne

Allied Press

Daily strip

1980-81

 

Single Again

Evan Diamond

Miller Features

Daily strip

2000

 

Sister Anne

Peter John Fugere

Trans World

Daily/weekly panel

1976-78

 

Six-Gun Days

Reg Manning

McClure

Daily/weekly

1931

 

Sketch Book

Gaylord,Zibellie

United Feature

Daily panel

1946

 

Sketches

Lambert Guenther

T-Bean Syndicate

?

1926

 

Sketches

George Spohn

Matz Features

Daily strip

1934

 

Sketches From Life

Joseph Buresch

Unique Features

Weekly strip

1938

 

Sketches From The War Front/Sketches From Life

Ralph Matz

Matz Features

Weekly strip

1939,1941

 

Skip Logan

Al Fagaly

Thompson Service

Daily strip

1937-41

 

Skipper Windward

P.J. Kuhn

Douglas Whiting Ltd

Daily strip

1961-64

 

The Skipper

Ron W. Stanfield

Trans World

Daily panel

1977-79

 

Skippy

Percy Crosby

Winford Co.

Daily/Sunday strip

1971-72

Re-run syndication.

Sky Capers

Joel Shalit

Dickson-Bennett

Weekly panel

1980-81

 

Sky Pirates

Uncredited

Allied Press

Weekly strip

1940

 

Skyrocket Steele

William Everett

Watkins Syndicate

Weekly strip

1939

 

Slangy Seth

Maurice Beam

Universal Press

Daily/weekly panel

1935

 

Slapsic

Tom Hickey

McNaught

Daily panel

1958

 

Slewfoot

Nellis Johnson

Dickson-Bennett

Daily/weekly strip

1981-82

 

Small Potatoes

John Barclay

American International

Daily strip

1989

 

Small Shots

Bill Johnson

Richmond Syndicate

Daily/Sunday panel

1979

 

Small Talk

Allan H. Kelly Jr.

Self-syndicated

Daily panel

1983-2000s

The copyrighted logo was dregistered as abandoned as of 1985.

Small World

Don Roberts

United Press International

Daily strip

1984

 

Smile Awhile

Dave Allen

Worldwide Media

Weekly panel

2000-03

 

Smile A While

Joe Buresch

Newspaper Art Features

Daily panel/Sunday strip

1939

 

Smiles

Frank Chapman

International Syndicate

Daily panel

1924-39

 

Smiling Out Loud

Sarge O’Neill

Southern Cartoon Syndicate

Daily panel

1970-76

 

Smitty

Don Gibbons

Weekly Features

Daily strip

1986-87

 

Snapper Smith

Uncredited

Beacon Newspaper Svc

Daily strip

1940

 

Snappy Grampy

Lyle Sterrett

Trans World

Daily panel

1976-78

 

Snojoe

George Donison

Canada Wide Features

Daily strip

1970-71

Appeared in US?

Snubby

Reg Manning

Bell Syndicate

Daily strip

1946

 

The Soaps

Joan Altabe

Dickson Features

Weekly strip

1980

 

Socko the Sea Dog

“Teddy” (Jack Kirby)

Keystone Press/Lincoln Features

Daily strip

1938-40

 

The Solar Legion

Uncredited

Beacon Newspaper Svs

Daily/Sunday strip

1940

 

Soldier Comic

Max Milians

Minority Features

Weekly strip

1942

 

Solve This Crime

Philip Nowlan

National Newspaper Svc

Daily panel

1931

 

Some Things Never Change

Stephen Templeton

American International

Sunday panel

1995

 

Something New For Tots To Do

Frank Hopkins

Audio Service

Daily panel

1926

 

Son & Co.

John Roman

King Features

Daily/Sunday strip

2000

 Found by Henkster in Detroit Free Press on a trial basis on a few dates; Salt Lake Tribune ran it for a few months

Sophisticated Lady

Dorothy Mylria

National Newspaper Svc

Daily panel

1957-59

 

Sorry About That

Joe Capelini

Community Features

Daily/weekly panel

1981

 

Sourdough

Robert Tremblay

United Cartoonist Syndicate

Daily

1986-88

 

South Sea Girl

Thorne Stevenson (and John Forte)

Phoenix Features

Daily strip

1974

Have seem much original art from the early 50s but never anything in newspapers.

Space Case

Hoey Morris

Callie-Pearl International

Daily strip

1983-84

 

The Space Frontier

James V. Johnson

Sun News Features

Daily strip

1960-63

 

Space Shots

Emil V. Abrahamian

Trans World

Daily panel

1978

 

Space-Nuts

Pedro Moreno

United Cartoonist Syndicate

Daly strip

1982-84

 

Spaced Out

Keith M. Manzella

Newspaper Features

Daily strip

1988-94

 

The Spacers

Emil V. Abrahamian

Trans World

Daily/weekly strip

1978-98

 

The Spacians

Larz Borne

Ledger Syndicate

Daily strip

1965

 

Sparky

Bob Larsen

Dickson-Bennett

Daily strip

1984-85

 

Special Ed

Pedro Moreno

Comic Art Therapy

Daily

1993-94

 

The Specialists

Bill Barry

Adventure Features

Daily/Sunday strip

1994-95

 

Speed Centaur

Malcolm Kildale

Watkins Syndicate

Weekly strip

1939

 

Spencer Steel

Dennis Colebrook

Eisner-Iger Associates

Weekly strip

1937-39

 

Sport Day

Bill Morgan

Columbia Features

Daily panel

1981-84

 

Sport Snickers

Lenny Hollreiser

Hayden-Kennedy Syndicate

Daily strip

1950

 

Sport-Spots

Brook Slover

R-GAB Features

Daily/weekly panel

1980

 

The Sporting Thing

 

Joe E. Buresch

Self-syndicated

Weekly panel

1959

 

Sportoons

Cliff Johnson, Bill Mittlebeeler, Jim Richardson

Dickson-Bennett

Daily/weekly panel

1980-84

 

Sports Cars Speed

Judd Burrow

B&B

Weekly panel

1960-63

 

Sports Chuckles

Al Leiderman

American International

Daily panel

1992

 

The Sports File

Emil V. Abrahamian

Trans World

Daily panel

1978-97

 

Sports Woman

Sandy Dean

Dickson-Bennett

Daily/weekly panel

1984-85

 

Sportsfun

Merve Magus

Dickson-Bennett

Daily/weekly strip

1982-84

 

Sportsville

Thomas E. Moran

Trans World

Daily/weekly panel

1976-78

 

Spot

Donald Vanozzi, Joe Zeis

Sparks Syndicate

Weekly

1991

 

Spy Hunters

Lochlan Field

Watkins Syndicate

Weekly strip

1939

 

Squeegee

Ken Muse

Community Features/Dickson-Bennett

Daily/weekly panel

1980-95

 

Squeeky Break

Ray Rubbin

Dickson-Bennett

Daily panel

1983-84

 

Squiggles

Grace Lee Richardson

Dickson-Bennett

Daily strip

1980-81

 

St. Peter’s Gate

Pedro Moreno

United Cartoonist Syndicate

Daily panel

1980-84

 

Stacy

Randy Bisson

Dickson-Bennett

Daily/weekly strip

1981-98

 

Stained Glass

Jonny Hawkins

Davy Associates

Weekly panel

1998-2000s

 

Standouts

Mal Eno

Atlas Features

Weekly panel

1949-50

 

Stanislaus

Dan Nevins

Chicago Tribune-NY News

Weekly strip

1980

 

Stanley & Decker

Roger Kliesh

Wade’s Cartoon Svc

Weekly strip

1991

 

Star Points

Carl Kuhn

Thompson Service

Daily/weekly panel

1935

 

Star Warriors

F. Treadgold

BP Singer Features

Weekly strip

1978

 

Star Weevils

J. Michael Leonard

Rip-Off Press

Weekly strip

1978

 

Startling Facts

Ferd Himme

Lowery Cartoons

Weekly panel

1932

 

The State of Georgia

R. David Boyd

Mark Morgan Inc

Weekly

1993-2000s

 

Static

B.W. Depew

Register & Tribune Syndicate

Daily panel

1928

 

Station I-M-D-Z

Jack Jay

Paramount Syndicate

Daily strip

1937

 

Status Quo

Charlie Wible

Richard Lynn Enterprises

Daily panel

1978-79

 

Stella Starlet

Martin, Stone

Dickson-Bennett

Daily panel

1984

 

Still Waiting

Bryan Ubaghs

At Large Features

Daily strip

2001-02

 

Stitch In Time

James Janeway

American International

Daily strip

1992

 

Stories of Real People

Vernon Rieck

Velerie Productions

?

1961

 

Stories of the Opera

Bernard Baily

Bell Syndicate

Daily

1949

 

Strange Accidents

Bunny Hogarth

Leeds Features

Daily panel

1933

 

Strange Encounters of the Unexplained and Bizarre

Fred Hull, Bill Barry

Adventure Features

Daily/Sunday strip

1981-83

 

Strangely Enough

John Duncan

JAD’s Service

Weekly panel

1938

 

Stranger Than Fiction

Ralph Matz

Matz Features

Daily strip

1939

 

The Strangest Thing

Everett Erwin

Western Newspaper Union

Weekly panel

1946

 

Strike Out

Martin Grodt

Editors Syndicate

Daily panel

1949-50

 

Stromboli

Mario Risso

Trans World

Daily/weekly panel

1976

 

Strongman

Uncredited

Beacon Newspaper Syndicate

Daily/Sunday strip

1940

 

Stump The Ump

Dywelska, Kent

Liberty Features

Weekly strip

1991-94

 

Stumpy Stumbler

Emil V. Abrahamian

Self-syndicated

Daily/weekly strip

1983-2002

 

Sub Rosa

Mimi

Bell Syndicate

Daily strip

1925

 

Subito

Bozz

Press Alliance

Daily/Occasional (!)

1950-52

 

Suburbia

Don Raden

Suburban Features

Weekly panel

1976-85

 

Sugar

Jack Fitch

A.S. Curtis Features

Daily strip

1949-61

 

Suggestion Box

Steve Moore

Star Group

Weekly

1984-85

 

Sunday Laughs/Sunday Laugh Male Cartoons

Paul Swede

BP Singer

Weekly strip

1973-93

 

Sunday at the Movies with Louie Loophole

Joe Gurrera

Comic Art Therapy

Sunday

1994-95

 

Sunny Side Up

Frank Drake

United Cartoonist Syndicate

Daily

1985

 

Sunny Sue

Jack Fitch, Edna Markham

A.S. Curtis

Daily strip

1950-61

 

Sunset Park

Ralph Aspinwall

Dickson-Bennett

Daily/weekly strip

1981-82

 

Super Kat

William L. Harper

Palestine Herald Press

Daily/weekly strip

1975-78

 

Super Shrink

Edward Stark

Trans World

Daily panel

1977-79

 

Super And Pals

Blackburn, Thomas

Trans World

Daily panel

1977-78

 

Suzerain’s Wildlife

Joe Fahey

Suzerain

Daily

1986

 

The Swingers

Barbara Jones

Allied Feature

Daily panel

1969

 

Swoosh Morgan

Rolland Lynch

N.E.W.S.

Daily/Sunday strip

1949

 

Sycamore Center

Graham Hunter

Oklahoman & Times

Weekly strip

1965-66

 

 

14 comments on “E&P Mystery Strips: Letter ‘S’

  1. As "Anonymous" pointed out, "Saturn Against the Earth" is a translation of a strip which appeared in an Italian weekly comics magazine. So is "Sky Pirates" ("Il Pirata del Cielo"). Both features found a home in short-lived American comic books: "Saturn" in McKay's "Future Comics" and "Pirates" in Hawley's "Sky Blazers" (both 1940). The E&P listing may have been a trial balloon to judge syndicate interest in the features. Maybe the owners didn't get the desired result and decided to go with comic books instead.

    I've seen (but unfortunately don't have) a trade display ad urging editors to buy these two titles as well as a third, "Zorro of the Metropolis." "Zorro" doesn't seem to have appeared anywhere. The McKay and Hawley books only lasted a couple of issues each, taking the Italian strips down with them. I speculate that the buildup to World War II put an end to this international venture.

  2. Since posting above I ran across an Italian essay shedding a bit more light on the issue. According to the article, the success of "Saturno Contro la Terra" (1936-1938) in Italy inspired its publisher, Mondadori, to try selling Mondadori strips to English language markets. "Through La Helicon Italiana, an organization created in the 1930s to promote national comics abroad" they pitched Mondadori product in England and the United States as well as in Europe and Latin America. The project was blocked by "Italian foreign policy" in regards to the War. Little information about Helicon Italiana exists because their headquarters were bombed out in 1944.

    It's interesting that "Saturn" and other Mondadori comic projects were conceived and plotted by Cesare Zavattini, who after the war found fame as a screenwriter of neorealist classics such as "Bicycle Thieves" and "Umberto D."

  3. "The Strangest Thing" by Everett Erwin appeared in "The Virden (Ills.) Recorder" from 18 July 1946 to 18 September 1947.
    "The Spacians" by animation great Larz Bourne would've been interesting, but I was told by people involved in the project that though the "ledger Syndicate" (or, "The NEW Ledger Syndicate" announced several titles, including a revival of the original Ledger's star feature, Hairbreadth Harry, they only managed to get one strip launched, "Batman". This was in 1966, where you'd think the hottest property on TV would be a smash, but the new Ledger was even worse run than it's inspiration, and flopped.
    "Scorer" was handled by us at KFS/NAS for several years, along with the London Mirror's other offerings like "The Perishers" and "Millie", but we really couldn't get US papers to touch anything but Andy Capp. So As far as I know, no US Scorer sales.

  4. The feature listed as "Slapsic" is "Slapsie," based on boxer and character actor Slapsie Maxie Rosenbloom. It's mentioned in many online bios of the artist, Tom Hickey…though, in Internet fashion, they may all be quoting a single source. I've never seen an example. I have posted a request on a Facebook page run by someone trying to do a Rosenbloom documentary. Maybe that will turn up something.

  5. Here's a random addition for you-
    I see in your book you have no end date for the panel THAT'S THE STORY OF MY LIFE by Wm. Box. It ends with a special kiss-off episode on 30 September 1961. (Windsor (PO) Star)

  6. Hi Mark — You must have a better source for that paper. On Google News Archive, that date is missing pages, including the one with the final TTSOML 🙁

    –Allan

  7. Hello Allan-
    It IS in the Google Windsor Star file-
    Page 45 in the 28 September entry, it has a lot of pages from the 30th's ish.

  8. Silly Dillies is a particularly exciting find as it has long been assumed that the revived Ledger Syndicate that distributed Batman never successfully launched any of their other offerings. Not true it turns out.

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Posted in Mystery Strips14 Comments on E&P Mystery Strips: Letter ‘S’

50% Obscurity, 50% Mystery Strip: Chester Gould’s Panel Cartoon Series

 

Chester Gould, later of Dick Tracy fame, spent several years at the Chicago Evening American in the mid-1920s honing his craft and producing a slew of material. Unfortunately this early work by Gould is little known, and the histories I’ve read only talk of it in vague generalities and offer a lot of incorrect information. To that problem I have not been immune, and the information about early Gould material in my own book ticks both boxes — it is vague and offers incorrect information.  

For instance, I have since learned from Jean Gould O’Connell’s book about her father that The Radio Catts and The Radio Lanes (which I list separately) are actually the same strip — it went through a title change partway through the run. 

O’Connell also shows a few samples of an untitled panel cartoon series Gould produced, but doesn’t really say anything about it in her text. She seems to consider these editorial cartoons, even though most of them are strictly gag-oriented. 

I recently got a sampling of the cartoons, all of them dating from August 1925. Although some are vaguely and limply editorial in nature, like the bottom example here, most are strictly playing for laughs. In fact, there was at least one running title used (Things That Can’t Be Done) that would seem to indicate that Gould was trying to achieve something at least adjacent to the Briggs/Webster mold. 

Based on this sampling I believe there was a series worthy of listing in my book, though my information is essentially a mere few shards of a smashed pot. O’Connell’s book seems to show a sample of the feature from 1926, so I gather it ran a good long while. I also note with some bemusement from my examples that they are copyrighted to just about any newspaper Hearst owned, the choice apparently being based on nothing more than what the typesetter took a fancy to at the moment. 

If anyone knows of a source for good primary source information on Gould’s early series, I’d sure like to know about it. I confess that I haven’t kept up with the various Dick Tracy reprint books, wherein there might very well be the occasional article about his early work. Of course, the ideal solution would be a trip to the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library in Springfield Illinois, the only library that has a substantial amount of Chicago Evening American microfilm, albeit missing some important months. Sadly, crossing the Canada-US border in these days of covid is a major undertaking and I won’t be making that trip anytime soon.

2 comments on “50% Obscurity, 50% Mystery Strip: Chester Gould’s Panel Cartoon Series

  1. Hello Allan-
    I see that "THINGS THAT CAN'T BE DONE" lasted at least to 6 November 1925 in the Rochester Evening Journal, and Gould's (apparent)one shots were there at least to 23 July 1926.However, if you're familiar with the online files of that paper, you'll know it's rife with gaps and missing pages.
    It would seem that they were going to have Gould be a lesser member of the editorial cartoonist pool for the Hearst chain papers, which was lead by T.E.Powers, and O.P.Williams. Gould's contributions seem to appear least frequently, maybe every fortnight. A similar thing hapened about 1929-30, with Jimmy Hatlo out of the SF Call, except that Gould had a great idea for a humor panel, and Gould's comics for Hearst, (Like "Fillum Fables") generated no interest.

  2. That is, HATLO had a great idea for a humor panel….That being of course, "They'll Do It Every Time".
    -MJ

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Mystery Strips: Alligator Joe and Pete the Piker

In the pages of The Fourth Estate, February 27 1915 edition, we find this short article: 

A SOUTHERN CARTOONIST

Henry Muheim, cartoonist for the Florida Metropolis of Jacksonville, has been attracting considerable attention in the South through his bright and timely cartoons.

After graduation from the Providence School of Design, Mr. Muheim did cartoons under Sid Greene of the New York Telegram, but then in charge of the art department of the Providence (R.I.) Telegram. For the past eight years Muheim has been furnishing the cartoons for the Metropolis on national and local topics. These have been so good that they have been reproduced by the London Sketch, among other papers. His comic strip, “Alligator Joe” is known throughout Florida.

In Editor & Publisher, January 14 1911 (thanks to Alex Jay for digging this up), we get another glimpse of Mr. Muheim’s activities:

Jackson Metropolis Staff Changes

A complete reorganization of the staff of the Jacksonville (Fla) Metropolis has been made recently. E. E. Naugle, formerly sporting editor, is now on the city desk. Frank L. Hulfaker is news editor. Ernest Metcalf has taken charge of the State news department. George D. Love, formerly of the Denver Post copy desk, is on the City Hall and Federal Court run, while George Benz, formerly of the Philadelphia Telegraph. is doing police work. W. J. Morrison, the well-known turf writer. who has seen service on Baltimore and Montreal papers, has taken the sporting desk. with L. S. Clampitte, formerly of the Chattanooga News, as assistant. Henry Muheim, the cartoonist, has recently created a novel character for the sporting editions of the paper in “Pete the Piker,” which has caught on with the racing fraternity now attending the winter meeting at Moncreif Park.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 “Alligator Joe” is a strip I cannot locate. Same with “Pete the Piker”, though it is less clear that it was a strip — character might have just been a sports cartoon mascot.

The Florida Metropolis is unavailable on microfilm, no doubt because in its day it was best known mainly as a real estate developers’ journal, and I don’t mean that in a good way — I mean folks selling swampland to gullible tourists. You’d think that a strip that was ‘known throughout Florida’ would show up in an occasional mention elsewhere, but my searches have turned up nothing. The title “Alligator Joe” itself seems unlikely — there was a pretty famous guy in Florida who exhibited and sometimes even wrestled alligators known by this name. Unless the strip was actually about that guy?

Anyway, Muheim was at least definitely at the Metropolis. Here’s a rare surviving cover page by him. Nice attractive style. Ironically, the cover of a special real estate section:

So, can anyone offer proof of the existence of “Alligator Joe” or “Pete the Piker”?

One comment on “Mystery Strips: Alligator Joe and Pete the Piker

  1. Hello Allen-
    Warren B. Frazee, the guy known as "Alligator Joe" was probably the most famous man associated with Florida, who made himself famous for being the "Crocodile Hunter" of his day. He had an alligator farm in Florida from which you could buy gators through the mail! Sometimes his name in news articles is Frazier. He had a famed gator exhibit at Coney Island where you could see such wonders as a reptilian incubator. He died in 1915 at his exhibit at the Panama-Pacific exposition in 'Frisco.
    It would seem entirely possible that he, as a self-promoting showman, could have a cartoon series, especially in something like "Florida Metropolis," designed to intrest one in the glories of that state.

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Obscurity of the Day: The Marsoozalums

Pinpointing important firsts in the newspaper comics world is seldom simple. What is the first newspaper comic strip? Well, long story. How about first adventure strip? For that you can get arguments that put it anywhere from the 1890s to 1929.

One first that seems a little simpler is first science fiction strip. Buck Rogers, right? Well, some folks disagree. There is a faction that points to a much earlier feature, Mister Skygack from Mars (debuting 1907), but as much as I love that delightfully witty feature, I’m sorry but it is a panel cartoon, not a strip, and so therefore, doesn’t qualify in my mind.

In StripScene #13 (Fall 1980), Mark Johnson offered a few additional contenders. He suggested 1902’s Sandy Highflyer, an airship pilot who sometimes travels through space, as the first SF strip, but he noted that there are even a few earlier contenders. Along with a mention of 1901’s Professor Gesla, a mad scientist strip by Dwig, he brings up a feature by Jimmy Swinnerton called The Marsoozalums, saying it is “about a clan of spacemen living on a far-off planet. It started on February 24 1901 for Hearst.”

There was no sample of The Marsoozalums with the article, and I had no samples, but the Johnson brothers are as trustworthy as it comes so I did include a listing for the feature in my book, though it was a listing full of question marks.

Many years later Cole Johnson sent me a scan sample of The Marsoozalums, as shown above. I was disappointed to find that Swinnerton had merely added some antennae to his oft-used tykes, or bears, or tigers, and called them Martians. Not much of a sci-fi spectacle, really, but we do have aliens and a rocket ship, so I can certainly see them as a contender. Only problem is that, just like Mister Skygack, it is a panel feature, not a strip. But Cole’s short message, which I didn’t really clue into at the time, is alarming. He says “Here’s a weird one from Swinnerton. The first extra-terrestrial series? Or is it a one-shot?”

Now that I’m finally trying to tie up the research on this feature, decades later than I should have, I’m faced with the possibility that the panel was a one-shot! I first checked the interwebs to see if someone else had any information about the feature. About all I could find was Luca Boschi’s website, and to my horror he offers the very same sample of the feature as Cole did. That led me to be practically convinced that Cole’s intuition was right — we have a one-shot.

Finally, though, I combed through records in the OSU Bill Blackbeard collection, and found that he had a Chicago American for February 24 1901, and the cited title was indeed different from our sample: “The Marsoolazums. A Funny Scene That Swinnerton Saw Through a Telescope on the Planet Mars”. I breathed a sigh of relief, and did a bit more poking around. I had already checked Alfredo Castelli’s superb book, “Here We Are Again”, and had been disappointed to find yet again the same strip installment that I already had. But a second more thorough look revealed a second sample elsewhere in the book. Lo and behold, that one had the February 24 title. I can’t show it to you here, because the PDF is locked, but it is a panel of the same sort of alien hijinks as the sample above.
Did the panel run any additional times than those two? I don’t know for sure, but I tend to doubt it. Does anyone know of any more?

EDIT: Alex Jay found the second installment of The Marsoozalums in the Denver Post. Note that it ran as a weekday strip there, not in the Sunday comics section:

One comment on “Obscurity of the Day: The Marsoozalums

  1. Wish I could add something here. I'm guessing that the sample Cole sent you was from a St.Louis Globe-Democrat, by the crumbly edge and that its in black & white. Had about three months of single pages from that period. So hard to find any available papers on file that carried a Hearst or even partial Hearst Sunday section that early, outside of the chain.
    Beyond of the G-D, the only other one that comes to mind is the Boston Post.

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Mystery Strips: Small Fry Diary

[the following article ran in the April 8 1961 issue of Editor & Publisher. The mystery in this case is not about the existence of the feature; Small Fry Diary was successfully syndicated for many many years. However, in my experience the feature never featured a panel cartoon by Reamer Keller; it was always a little text feature with a teeny tiny never-changing masthead. Granted, the masthead may well have been supplied by Keller, but this article certainly makes it sound like Small-Fry Diary featured a new cartoon each day. I’ve been able to verify that two of the papers mentioned in the article did in fact not run the feature with a cartoon panel. Can anyone solve the mystery?]

‘Small Fry’ Writes ‘Diary’

After 20 years of gag writing for cartoonists, N. E. Coan (1083 W. 37th St., Norfolk 8, Va.) is now syndicating his own feature, “Small Fry Diary.”

The panel drawing has appeared on the front page of the Norfolk (Va.) Ledger Dispatch for the last eight years and in the comics section of the Salisbury (Md.) Times for the last seven years. Since the first of the year, it has been appearing in the Bridgeport (Conn.) Post.

The short, one-column panel is drawn by a cartoonist friend of Mr. Coan, Reamer Keller, for whom Mr. Coan, an accountant, has written for 20 years. Mats of the panels are sent to papers with four weeks of gags in diary form.

“Small Fry” is about a precocious lad who writes a daring diary that reveals the provocative and humorous incidents engaging him, his mother, dad, brother, sister, uncle and aunt in gales of spontaneous laughter.

Samples of “Diary” copy: “Monday: ‘Every time my girl and I kiss, sparks fly. It’s not that we’re so romantic. We both wear dental braces.’ ” “Thursday: ‘Mother puts up the best jam, but she puts it up so high. I can’t reach it.’” “Saturday: ‘Tonight was a wonderful evening. The moon was out and so
was her parents.”

Mystery Strips: George Lemont in San Francisco Call-Bulletin

[This article was printed in the Editor & Publisher issue for April 8 1961. Lemont had just begun a TV gag panel for NEA called Station Break in January 1961, and it sounds like that’s the feature they’re discussing here. But the article seems to indicate that it was a local feature of the Call-Bulletin. Can anyone unravel this mystery?]

Radio Humorist Turns Cartoonist

George Lemont, a radio and television humorist, is doing a daily panel cartoon for the San Francisco News-Call Bulletin. It’s a return to his first love. George always wanted to be a cartoonist. At the age of 12 the San Francisco Call-Bulletin printed one of his drawings.

After his military service was ended, Mr. Lemont found no newspaper takers for cartoons. He did a television drawing show for youngsters over KRON-TV. Next came mixed television and radio station duty for 11 years. A period as night club entertainer followed.

His drawings with one-line captions satirizing radio and video situations have been accepted as a regular feature. Syndication is forecast.

2 comments on “Mystery Strips: George Lemont in San Francisco Call-Bulletin

  1. My old notebook has an unsourced comment on the Station Break entry that it "began in S.F. Call-Bulletin with different title."
    That title ???

  2. Only explanation I can come up with is that this news story was submitted long before April 1961, and E&P had it in the slush pile long enough that by the time they printed it was out of date. –Allan

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Mystery Strips: Howie Reed

[Here is an article that ran in the April 21 1962 issue of Editor & Publisher. Has anyone encountered Howie Reed in a newspaper? The New Orleans Times-Picayune would seem a good place to start, but unfortunately it seems to not be online.]

New Book Page Panel Drawn by Fitzgerald 

A new weekly two-column cartoon panel called “Howie Reed,” created especially for book and literary pages, will be distributed by General Features Corporation, beginning May 13. The panel devoted to books is the work of Albert J. Fitzgerald, New Orleans (La.) Times-Picayune. The panel is entirely pantomime depicting the humorous side of books, always with book store or library background.

Through fictitious action, Mr. Fitzgerald shows that books do things and he illustrates the humorous reactions of people to the subject matter in current and past best sellers.

Gentle Character
The star of the panel is a gentle character, the keeper of a book store or library, as the case may be, who is witness to the most fantastic happenings imaginable in and out of books. 

Mr. Fitzgerald is originally from Braintree, Mass. He early showed artistic ability and earned his first dollar at the age of eight by selling a drawing to the Boston (Mass.) Herald-Traveler. Throughout his public school days, he continued his progress as an artist and in high school was once forced to forfeit first prize in a poster contest because the judges felt he must have copied it. Despite this discouraging injustice, he continued his creative art.

The artist developed a deep interest in books at an early age and this interest has been intensified in recent years. Before he left high school, he had accumulated a library of 300 volumes. With one of his books, he taught himself to spin a baton and led two bands.

Army Service
With the start of World War II, Fitzgerald enlisted in the Army but continued his two loves — art and books. At Camp Plauche, La., he was assigned to the Graphic Training Aids unit, where he spent a year and a half working with other professional artists on posters and military training aids. Later he went to radio school and was active as a radio operator on an Army ship. While aboard ship, he started a lending library (free) to encourage reading. 

In 1947, Mr. Fitzgerald joined the promotion department of the Times-Picayune as creative artist.
“I started developing the idea for ‘Howie Reed’ about five years ago and after much experimentation, changing, improving, trial by error, consultation with editors and finally the syndicate we arrived at the present form, which we think is just right,” said Mr. Fitzgerald.

One comment on “Mystery Strips: Howie Reed

  1. It may be that the panel changed its title from the punnish Howie Reed (How W/He Read) to something else, as there was a baseball player with the name Howie Reed at that time (1958-71).
    That said, I'm not finding anything panel-wise for Albert J. Fitzgerald either.

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Mystery Strips: Pepless Pete

Here is a mystery strip from the collection of Cole Johnson. This tearsheet of Pepless Pete ran on October 5 1919 in the St. Louis Globe-Democrat. Cole told me he had no idea if it was a series, but that he’d never seen another. As far as I know, the G-D is not available digitally, so unless someone happens to have more material in their collection, someone needs to go old-school and get to a library that has the paper on microfilm if we’re going to solve this mystery.

Although the strip is signed, it is obscured by a combination of flaky newsprint and archival tape. To me it looks like “K. Jay B—–“. Anyone?

2 comments on “Mystery Strips: Pepless Pete

  1. There is a microfilm run of the Globe-Democrat. Cole would borrow reels via interlibrary loan, while trying to complete his Philadelphia Inquirer project. (the G-D was a reliable client for years, and sometimes ran the Inky's fifth page that they themselves didn't.) He stopped bothering with them when the microfilmers perversely stopped capturing the comics, though they were evidently in the volumes used. That obtained for the final years of the Inquirer's full section offerings, about 1914-5. At that time, The G-D switched to a NY Herald section and maybe 1917 or 1918 started knocking out a page so they could feature their own home made stuff, like ol' Pepless here.
    If anyone wants to give it a shot, by this time, they may have started to include the comics again in the microfiles.
    About the condition of the page: This was once the property of the St.Louis Public Library. There, in the late 1930's, A new idea in unneeded, useless make-work projects was launched by the WPA; do something with the hundreds of years of newspapers in big volumes in public library stacks. What they proceeded to do was disbind the runs of the Post-Dispatch and the Globe-Democrat, the two leading papers of that day. They then covered each page, front and back, with a weird, very thin white gauzey fabric, pasted on. It left them opaque, and presumably useless, though a strip of new paper was glued to the edge, presumably for a re-binding project later.
    But that never happened, perhaps they realized just how nuts the whole fiasco was, or the taxpayer's money was suddenly spent sensibly. But this fiasco left behind hundreds upon hundreds of large boxes of these strangely done pages, filed away in some kind of madman's obsessive order; 32 pages of second sports pages from 1909, 77 pages of magazine section back covers, 1921, 46 third want ad pages, 1917, 10 pages of page 9, 1901, etc.
    They were all just warehoused until the 1970's, when Cole and I had a look. Some comics, here and there could be found, But you'd have to have unlimited amounts of time, body strength and patience to sift through the whole lot. A few pages were extracted, but then the removing of the cruddy covering was sometimes impossible to rub off (and I'm talking half an inch at a time)and it seemed to suck all the moisture out to the paper as well, making them as brittle as the dead sea scrolls, especially at the edges.
    Fortunately these paper's runs were preserved in other repositories.Some fun.

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