Category : News of Yore

News of Yore 1925: J.R. Williams Will Spend More Time Out Our Way



J.R. Williams burst from obscurity onto hundreds, maybe even thousands, of newspapers in 1922 with his daily Out Our Way panel, syndicated by the ubiquitous blanket service syndicate, NEA. It’s hard to believe that the creator of a three year old feature could make headline news simply by signing his next contract, but such was the instant popularity of Out Our Way. Of course it didn’t hurt that NEA supplied the promo piece with the rest of their service, but still, editors had to make the decision to actually run it, and quite a few did. 

This piece ran in the October 23 1925 edition of the Dubuque Times-Journal, but a digital search finds it running in lots of other venues, from New Jersey to Alabama, Louisiana to Washington state. 

One comment on “News of Yore 1925: J.R. Williams Will Spend More Time Out Our Way

  1. In the 1920s-30s,NEA would often put in puffy little space fillers to promote their strips right on the proof sheets sent to clients, others about Williams accentuate his cowboy origins, with him decked out in western regalia.

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1952, The Year Al Capp Took Over the Boob Tube

In the 1940s Al Capp started making the rounds of the radio talk shows, and he also became a popular guest on early TV. Intrigued by the new technology, in 1952 Capp created two new programs for the young medium. One was a puppet show featuring his character Fearless Fosdick, and the other was a 15-minute weekly show featuring Capp himself, simply titled The Al Capp Show.

In the latter show Capp offered his views, which while not quite as incendiary as they would later become, were already well capable of ruffling feathers. One of his lighter episodes, though, consisted of him explaining how to use terms like shlemiel and schnook. Hopefully in the episode he gave credit where due for these Yiddishisms, but in the TV Guide edition of October 10-16 1952 they offered a summary of the program in which the less lexically knowledgeable would be left believing that Capp came up with these terms himself. Thanks to Mark Johnson, here’s the cover and article:

The Al Capp Show was 15 minutes long and ran at 12:15 PM on Saturdays, at least at the New York station where it originated. The program lasted about six months, with the first episode airing on July 12 and the last on December 27 1952. As far as I know there is no surviving video of any of the shows. However, this review gives a pretty good idea of what you would have seen; sounds like fun:


At least a few episodes of the Fearless Fosdick puppet show have survived, and here’s the first episode of the series. While the story moves along at a deadly slow pace, and the sparse gags are hit and miss, you can’t help but be impressed by the puppetry work:

2 comments on “1952, The Year Al Capp Took Over the Boob Tube

  1. Hi Allan,
    Thanks for this unusual Al Capp post. I have never seen one of the Fearless Fosdick TV shows before. As you mentioned, the comedy takes second fiddle to the marionette manipulation. The puppets don't really resemble Al Capp's drawing style too closely, but they are well designed, for 1951 marionettes. Even MORE interesting is that Al Capp isn't even mentioned ONCE and doesn't get the copyright line, a Mr. Cowan receives it instead. I think Dennis Kitchen has the complete run of the Fosdick TV show. In one of the L'il Abner reprint books, there is a good run-down on the program, and many good stills are used as illustrations.
    Mark Kausler

  2. Great info on Al Capp. The Fearless Fosdick marionettes looked great, and I also have never seen one of these episodes before. My favorite character was Fosdick's assistant "Shmoozer" who looks like a Shmoo (with ears and arms), with his bowling pin shape and funky whiskers. Capp was credited once, at the beginning of the episode where it was stated that the characters were based on Al Capp's famous (though unnamed) comic strip. Bob Carlin

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News of Yore 1976: Greeting Card Entrepreneur Enters Newspaper Comics Realm

 ‘Kisses’ postcard approach piques editors’ interest

By Patricia Roberts (Editor & Publisher, April 17 1976)

It’s not your everyday sales pitch.

A card arrives in the morning mail, no return address: “You’re so sexy you drive me up a tree. Love. Avalanche.”

At four-day intervals, similar cards follow: “Let’s monkey around! Love and kisses. Avalanche.”

“I’m getting ready for you. ‘Cause I heard dirty old men need love too! Love. Avalanche.”

And, finally. “We could have wild times together! Missed you. Love. Avalanche (305) 558-.xxxx“

The cards went to newspaper editors all over the country this spring, and most of them were intrigued enough to ring the Miami, Florida number and demand “Who’s Avalanche?”

By the time they found out, 27-year-old cartoonist Vivian Greene managed to talk them into taking a serious look at her cartoon strip “Kisses,” syndicated in about 90 newspapers in the U.S. and abroad.

Avalanche is the “Kisses” character most like the strip’s creator. Deceptively innocent-looking in jeans, a halter top and mod platform shoes. Into health foods, yoga, horoscopes and woman’s lib. Flirtatious. And with a philosophy that you can get anything you want if you’re cute enough.

Vivian Greene has a reputation for getting what she wants, and right now it’s to make her cartoon strip as successful as Charles Schulz’s “Peanuts.” And, if possible, even more profitable.

As a University of Washington Journalism major, she decided to become a syndicated cartoonist—an unusual ambition, considering she couldn’t draw.

She dreamed up a kind of elementary school soap opera—involving Avalanche, a dizzy secretary named Gabee, fat Rotunda whose diets always fail and Montgomery C. Roebuck, a sixth grade Phi Beta Kappa. Making rough sketches of the characters, she commissioned artists to do the drawing, and by the time she was 21, landed a contract with a New York syndicate.

But a few weeks before the strip was to be released, the syndicate went bankrupt. A series of part-time jobs proved disastrous, and Ms. Greene finally poured a cup of hot coffee on an insulting boss, was promptly fired, and decided that “If I was ever going to get anywhere
I had to do something on my own.”

Transferring the cartoon characters to a line of 48 greeting cards, she moved to Miami and founded Vivian Greene, Inc.

Within three years the company was doing a multi-million dollar volume of business and Ms. Greene was signing contracts to market Kisses toys, clothing, and gift items.

Her technique of bombarding editors with risque greeting cards signed “Avalanche,” (from her own “Juvenile Delinquent” line) may be unorthodox, but it gets both attention and results.

“But what counts is not the number of papers you sign up,” Ms. Greene says.

“It’s longevity. Dozens of comic strips don’t last past the 13th week.”


 “Kisses” has run a year in three large markets—The Toronto Star, Miami Herald, and the Philadelphia Daily News. And, says Peter Morris of the Toronto Star Syndicate, response has been unusually favorable.

“We had an extremely heavy response to a recent readership survey.” Morris said. “There were 1200 replies, with three to one favorable. ‘Kisses’ is reaching the youngsters, age five to teenage,
and above that age it’s reaching women. Readers seem to feel a strong affinity with the characters.”

Newspaper comic strips tend to be male-oriented, Ms. Greene believes, “because the editors who choose them are middle-aged men.”

“There’s very little on the comic pages for children.” she says. “’Kisses’ is designed for children. They like the characters because they’re really with it.”

The strip’s contemporary situations—a child’s parents getting divorced. sex education classes, black and white children placed together—have sparked controversy, including a couple of cancellations, she says. But most response has been positive.

“I really relate to children. I never had much of a childhood myself. I only had one parent, and I was just about the only white kid in my neighborhood,” she says.

A native of Seattle, she worked part-time jobs from age 12 to contribute to the family income, including writing articles for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, a high school column for the Seattle Times, and a “youth news bureau.” Her idols were Charles Schulz and Walt Disney. Her mother, a divorcee, earned only about
$4,000 a year as a department store saleswoman.

She never took an art course, still can’t draw, but designs and writes her strips, employing four artists to draw them. “It’s not a new concept,” she points out. “Walt Disney’s work was drawn by staff artists.

“And why not be another Walt Disney?” she asks, giving a big smile, much like her cartoon characters. They’re eyeless, she says, because “ ‘Kisses’ is about love and happiness. When you kiss
somebody you close your eyes and smile.”

“Kisses” characters never hit each other, because she doesn’t like violence. Nor will their faces ever appear on packages of candy, soft drinks or sugary cereals, she says emphatically, because those things can harm children.

Success has brought little change to her life style, except that it’s enabled her to make up somewhat for the childhood she missed. She bicycles to work, flies around the country to appear at autograph sessions, not infrequently turning up on roller skates with an “Avalanche” doll tucked under her arm.

Still single, she’s not sure she’ll ever marry because “there’re so many neat men in the world, it’s hard to choose just one. . . . Too bad marriage can’t be syndicated.”

[Tomorrow … more about Kisses]

News of Yore 1946: William Donahey Profiled

Comic strip version of The Teenie Weenies from late in the first run of the feature


 Donahey Talks About His Teenie Weenies

By George A. Brandenburg (Editor & Publisher, June 15 1946)

Some old screws, which served as his boyhood soldiers, plus an inherent interest in what makes children “tick,” served as guiding lights in the creation of the ‘‘Teenie Weenies.” 32-year-old Sunday
color feature drawn by William Donahey, top-flight watercolor artist with the Chicago Tribune – New York News Syndicate.

As a kid in New Philadelphia, O., Bill Donahey was what he today terms a “lone wolf.” He played by himself a lot and among his favorites were an assortment of screws which he imagined were soldiers. One screw head had some red paint on it and Bill made him the general. A broken screw, which wouldn’t stand on end, was called the dunce.

Later a Chinaman moved to town and opened a laundry. The Chinaman was an object of great curiosity among all the kids in New Philadelphia, including young Donahey, who, in turn, tied a piece of string on a screw for a queue and he dubbed this one “Mr. Chinaman.”

In later years, these same “characters‘’ and a group of others were to take form as the Teenie Weenies, then unbeknown to their creator.

Donahey was not a poor boy, in the sense that he was obliged to play with screws instead of toys. His father was a well-to-do cattle raiser and a respected politician.

Bill’s two older brothers became famous in their own right. The late A. V. Donahey, ten years older than Bill, was elected three times governor of Ohio and also served in the U.S. Senate. J. H. Donahey, eight years Bill’s senior, has been editorial cartoonist on the Cleveland Plain Dealer for many years.

Bill‘s father taught him the value of money early in life. “My father never gave me money, but he would ‘loan’ me his lawn mower or snow shovel and after I had made good use of them, I was paid accordingly.” Mr. Donahey told Editor & Publisher.

Later, when Bill went to Cleveland School of Art, his father advanced him the money as a loan through a series of 4% notes. “This also kept me from spending money extravagantly,‘’ remarked Donahey, “for I knew I was obligated to pay it back to my father.“

Upon finishing art school and after some private tutoring, Donahey was hired as an illustrator on the Plain Dealer in the days when artists covered the big news events, theatrical openings. etc., instead of photographers. Always striving for perfection, he soon found that he had a lot to learn about illustrating and for the first 2 1/2 years he was on the Plain Dealer he worked 20 hours a day, spending all his spare time practicing and perfecting his artwork. “During those first 2 1/2 years on the paper I seldom slept more than four hours a night and I didn’t take a vacation until after I had been with the Plain Dealer three years.” he said. “It was fascinating work, but required terrific speed and good draftsmanship, all of which had to be accomplished under great pressure.”

Marries Mary Dickerson

About this time, Donahey became acquainted with Mary Dickerson, a talented reporter and feature writer, who had already won recognition on the old New York Journal and old New York World. She was then a reporter on the Plain Deaier.

She and Bill decided to get married. But Bill first went to his father and offered to pay back the money he had borrowed while going to school. When he presented the money, his father declined, tearing up the 4% notes he had with his son’s signature.

In those days, a newspaper artist really earned his salt,’‘ remarked Donahey. “l had my regular daily assignments, plus a Sunday color page, and some special drawings for the editorial page, together with theatrical openings and a few other odd jobs.”

Donahey aspired to be either a magazine illustrator or a cartoonist. He noticed, however, that the Sunday color comic sections of those days didn’t offer too much in the way of a wholesome appeal to children. Most of the comics were of the slapstick variety and played up the pranks of youngsters, rather than appealing to their better

Attracts Patterson’s Attention
He pointed out this fact to the Plain Dealer managing editor, whose first reaction was: “0h, kids are just little savages anyway and they like this kind of comics.” Donahey kept “working” on his superior, however, and finally got him to consent to let Donahey draw a color page for the Sunday comics which would feature Mother Goose characters, “modernized” by special children’s verses, written by Donahey.

The beautiful color work, plus the kids’ verse in simple style, became immediately popular with Cleveland children. Donahey’s attractive color pages caught the eyes of Capt. Joseph Medill Patterson, late publisher of the New York News, then with the Chicago Tribune. As has been the case with so many of the Tribune-News comic features, Patterson encouraged Donahey to develop a new children’s page for the Sunday paper.

At this point, Donahey’s boyhood “playmates,” the screws, came back to his mind and the characters such as “the General,” the “Dunce” and “Mr. Chinaman” took form in the tiny folks whom he called the Teenie Weenies. Although the Donaheys have no children of their own. Bill had a deep fondness for kids, having watched his oldest brother’s family of 12 children grow up.

Began in May 1914 (actually June–Allan)
Donahey drew three pages, showing the Teenie Weenies busy in ttieir little way in the big world about them. Capt. Patterson was away when Donahey brought his drawings to the Tribune. He showed them to the Sunday editor, who took one look at them and said; “These stink, take ’em away.” Donahey waited for Patterson’s return and submitted them again. Patterson was so impressed that he ordered the page to run immediately in black and white in what was then called the Hint Section.

“But that section is already made up and we have advertising scheduled for that page,” protested the Sunday editor. “Put the ads somewhere else in the paper and get the Teenie Weenies in,” ordered Capt. Patterson. Soon after, in May, 1914, the Teenie Weenies became a regular feature in the Sunday paper and they have been there ever since, except for a short period a few years ago when Donahey tried to retire, but the demand for the feature was so great that he returned to his delightful job of keeping youngsters and oldsters amused.

The popularity of the Teenie Weenies was so great that Patterson urged Donahey to develop a daily strip as well, but Donahey declined, saying that once a week was enough. “This way I enjoy doing it and the kids like it, too; if I try to do a daily feature as well, I’ll tire of it and so will the ktds,” he explained.

A Painstaking Worker

He did retain the book publishing rights on the Teenie Weenies and Whittlesey House is publishing his fourth book soon. It takes him from three to six weeks to do each of the book illustrations, because he is methodical in proportioning his figures and backgrounds, and he is particularly painstaking about the color work.

He seldom draws more than one Teenie Weenie feature a week for the syndicate, explaining “you must have a feeling for what you are doing and I like to do things slowly and with considerable thought.” His color prints which are turned in for guides in the mechanical department are beautiful enough to be framed.

“I’ve never missed a deadline in 47 years of newspaper work,” remarked Donahey in a recent interview at his home in Chicago. There the quiet-spoken, diminutive Donahey, with a great shock of gray hair and his inevitable pipe, works during the fall and winter months in the second-floor front room which he uses for his art studio.

Likes the Outdoors
From May to October, the Donaheys hide away in their log cabin lodge at Grand Maraias in northern Michigan near Lake Superior. Donahey loves the outdoors as much as he does little children. He likes to fish, study Mother Nature at first hand, and still keeps up his syndicate schedule. In bygone years, Donahey and the late Gaar Williams, famed Hoosier cartoonist with the Tribune, enjoyed fishing and swapping yarns together on expeditions in the northern Michigan lake country.

Mrs. Donahey. author of children’s books under the name of Mary Dickerson Donahey, told Editor & Publisher that she is often given the credit for writing the stories which accompany her husband’s Teenie Weenie illustrations. This is not the case, she stated, for Donahey writes his own stories.

“I ‘illustrate’ the picture with a story.” he explained. “I draw my picture first and then write a little story to tell more about the details.”

Has Interesting Collection
In his studio is an interesting collection of tiny objects which youngsters all over the world have sent te him. They include tiny knives, beds, rugs, furniture and other small articles proportioned to meet the specifications of the Teenie Weenies if they could come to life and use them. Donahey gets a great many letters from youngsters, written in their own handwriting and often addressed to “Mr. Teenie Weenie.”

“I am always fascinated by children,” he said. “I see more interesting things in children than I do in grown-ups. People over-estimate a child’s intelligence. Youngsters have very little consecutive thought; that’s why they jump from one thing to another.”

The day we visited Donahey he had gone out and bought a fish in order to get the proper markings and coloring for a Teenie Weenie episode. Sometime next summer, the fish and the Teenie Weenies will appear in bright color under the magic brush of William Donahey, who has a Sunday “date” with boys and girls of pre-teen age across
the country.

News of Yore 1943: Tarpe Mills Profiled


 Meet the Real Miss Fury-It’s All Done With Mirrors

By James Aronson (New York Post, April 6 1943)

Girls, you’ll have to get in line. Tarpe Mills, creator of “Miss Fury,” is one of you, and she said today she isn’t letting go of Dan Carey just like that. Recently she wrote one of Dan’s more burning admirers:

“Listen, sister, put your name on the waiting list. I got here first!”

This fair warning is given because last month The New York Post received 533 letters from enthusiastic followers of “Miss Fury,” the colored comic page that appears in the Week-End Edition. A lot of the letters were from girls who thought that Dan Carey, one of the heroes of the strip, was mighty brave and handsome, and if they ever met up with a type like him, well, their hearts would be faint and

Tarpe Mills, Erasmus Hall High graduate, said that she literally stumbled into cartooning. She posed for portrait-painters, photographers and sculptors to pay her way through Pratt Institute. She studied sculpture and was told that she showed promise; but the market for birdbaths was pretty dry, so she went into animated cartooning.

Among other things she created a few cat characters which were used in a series of pictures, and finally, she said, “I was carried out of the joint with a nervous breakdown.” It was back to posing and free-lance drawing.

“Then,” she said, “a foot injury kept me out of circulation and I started a serial called “Daredevil Barry Finn” for one of the children’s comic books. I hated to drop Barry, so I went into the business whole hog and turned out such hair-raising thrillers as ‘The Purple Zombie,’ ‘Devil’s Dust’ and “The Cat Man.’

Miss Mills dropped her first name (she won’t say what it was) because it was too feminine.

“It would have been a major let-down to the kids if they found out that the author of such virile and awesome characters was a gal,” she said.

Miss Mills said she writes “Miss Fury” to provide amusement for kids and grown-ups
alike. “Fashions, a hint of romance and human interest for the adults. Fantasy and action for the youngsters.”

She admitted she doesn’t know where she got her inspiration except that she was one of those imaginative kids “who hang around the house reading books instead of running around outside playing hop-scotch.”

Who poses for the girl characters in “Miss Fury,” she was asked.

“It’s all done with mirrors,” she said. “l find it simpler to sketch from a mirror than to hire a model and explain just what the character should be doing.”

(thanks to Mark Johnson, who supplied the article)

News of Yore 1969: John Henry Rouson Profiled


 Former Commando Cartoonist now Fights Daily Deadlines

by Don Maley (Editor & Publisher, June 14 1969)


John Henry Rouson draws big laughs with four mini-cartoons he grinds out for General Features Syndicate. Rouson, a transplanted Englishman, says he learned to draw small during World War II when newsprint was scarce on Fleet Street and consequently newspaper art shrunk.

The four cartoons Rouson draws 24-times-a-week are: Boy and Girl, Ladies’ Day, Little Sport and Little Eve. Collectively they appear in 300 papers,according to the syndicate. As an example of the Liliputian size of Rouson’s work both the Little Sport and Little Eve panels are drawn on 1” by 7” inch panels. “All European artists have to draw small,” says Rouson, “in Europe space is valuable.”

His Boy and Girl feature was originally four panel but has been cut down to one column “but could be run in two.” Ladies’ Day is a six-a-week spot designed for distaff sports buffs. Although all four features rate high marks in the humor department. Their creator has a background that reads like something written by Ian Fleming — one of Rouson’s wartime buddies—and is chock-full of adventure, rather than fun.

The 60-year-old artist began drawing comic strips in the very early 30’s “Once I got started,” he says, “things happened quickly.” Quickly indeed. In his heyday in England young Rouson scratched his by-line on to six features: Shop Acts (“Life in a general store . . . six – a – week.”). Our Gracie (“Done with Gracie Fields six times a week.”) Little Sport (“Only once a week then.”), Boy and Girl (“Originally called Boy Meets Girl done once-a-week for the London Sunday Dispatch.”), Theatrical Caricatures for the London Bystander and gag cartoons for Punch.

“I wasn’t making too much money back in those days,” says Rouson, “only about $300 a week.” To supplement his income he appeared on British television drawing cartoons. “We had telly in England back in 1938 and ’39—it was very primitive,” he says. He also drew cartoons and wrote reviews for Modem Motoring, the Roots Motors monthly magazine.

Sporting Publisher

“Another fellow and I started a paper called the Sporting Record,” he says of another venture, “and we ran it for about two years. We bought it very cheaply and eventually built up a circulation of 14,000. We were all set to go into the football season when the war came along and killed it for us. We sold out to a publisher who was looking for a publication that would be a good source of newsprint for his other publications. He built it up however and sold it for a fat quarter-of-a-million. I got back the $20,000 I put into it.”

During the nine years that Rouson expended creative energy all over the British Isles he thrived. “It all sounds like an awful lot of work but it wasn’t really. Everything dovetailed together. I loved both sports and the theatre and I’ve always liked cartooning. I did the strips during the day and the rest of the work at night. It was wonderful in a way, I was in my 20’s then and was young and enthusiastic and found the work relaxing. But by the time the war came around I started to sag.”

Rouson joined the Royal Navy in September, 1939, three days before England went to war against the Axis powers. “I joined the Patrol Service,” he says, “and was assigned to a 46-foot yacht I had sailed before. We were at Dunkirk and were assigned to traffic duty, directing small boats in and out of the beach. The original crew of four grew to six and they promoted me to second in command. We ended up patrolling the Thames doing routine naval drudgery.”

Rouson hates drudgery and as fate would have it the sophisticated cartoonist who joined the Navy as an ordinary seaman (the lowest of the low in the Naval chain of command) was discharged seven years later as a Lieutenant Commander, O. B. E., G. M. The last two letters stand for George Medal, one of Great Britain’s highest military decorations. He succeeded in the Navy by joining an elite group of sailors who seemed hell-bent on committing suicide.

Because of his poor eyesight, the bespectacled Rouson knew he’d never see action more exciting than chasing skinny-dippers out of the Thames, so he volunteered for special assignments as a weapons defuser. “I thought I might have a go at it,” says Rouson Britishly. “It was a little rugged at first. Some of the devices we used in the early months of the war were, now that I think of it, rather laughable. (Sledge hammers and such.) We worked in teams—one officer, one sailor as a rule—and we lost a lot of men at the beginning, but the losses tailed off as we picked up greater experience.

Three Survive
“Of my original 12 man crew I guess only about three came through. Many of the volunteers were fellows who, like myself, had poor eyesight, or other slight physical impairments.” (A close look above Rouson’s horn-rims divulges a scar on the right side of his forehead—a permanent reminder that war is far from hilarious.)

During the early years of thewar, when the Germans were ‘blitzing’ England, Rouson and his crew were kept busy defusing large, magnetic naval mines the Germans parachuted from airplanes.

“At first the Germans dropped them into the sea,” he says, “but they made such a loud noise, scaring the pants off of everybody within earshot, that they switched tactics and started dropping them on land targets. These naval mines were dropped in large numbers during the ‘blitz’ attacks on Coventry and Glasgow. At Glasgow, when we were sent up after a raid, we found about 90 such mines that had been dropped all over the place, and, as was often the case, about one out of every three — in this instance about 30—failed to explode.”

In an attempt to booby-trap the mines, the Germans attached a 14-second timing device designed to blow up anyone attempting to take them apart. Once, Rouson recalls, there was an eight-second count on a mine which he was dismantling.

Rouson’s initial instructions for his dangerous assignment took one entire afternoon. “learned on the job,” he says. “A guy was killed the first day. We didn’t know anything about theory and were quite a group. There were playboys, teachers, businessmen and we even had a hunting secretary with us.” Later Rouson learned how to dive—for undersea work. On an island “south of Singapore,” he found one of the first Japanese mines ever recovered by the Allies. He was on the last English ship to leave Singapore before it fell to the Japanese.

Later he took the first acoustic torpedo out of a German sub—“in the Mediterranean off the French port of Toulon.”

Meets Ian Fleming

It was during this period that Rouson met Ian Fleming when his “Rendering Safe Party” became a “Commando Assault Unit,” and they worked closely with British Intelligence, to which Fleming was assigned.

One expedition Rouson vividly remembers was when six little Japanese two-man subs penetrated the submarine nets at Sydney, Australia, and sneaked into the harbor. “These little subs,” says Rouson, “probably came from a larger sub, got through the Sydney nets at night and created all kinds of confusion.” Rouson and his crew dived for, and reclaimed wreckage from five-and-a-half of them.

Rouson came back from the war with his Boy and Girl strip, which he drew all over the world and mailed to the London Dispatch from wherever his Navy assignments took him. He also returned with tattoed arms. “I got these,” he says of the tattooes, “in Singapore. Over there the Malay sailors respect tattooed officers and all of the British officers stationed there had tattooes, from the Admiral on down.” One of Rouson’s tattooes is a map of England inscribed in Chinese.

Rouson’s experience in the explosives field prompted the U. S. Navy to request his transfer here in 1944 to lecture on his activities to naval personnel. While here he decided that the U. S. was the best place, at war’s end, for him to further his career as a professional cartoonist. “I realized,” he says, “that if I was going to stay with cartooning my future would be in the States.” He had originally visited the U. S. briefly in 1939 and found then that American cartooning markets far surpassed those in England.

Before migrating to the States Rouson found himself at loose ends. “I had just gotten out of the Navy and had found the war to be very exciting. I just couldn’t visualize sitting at a drawing board for the rest of my life.”

Rug Fiasco
So he went to India with another recently-sprung member of his crew. “We bought a warehouse-full of Indian carpets there,” he says, “and had visions of making a fortune exporting them. But we couldn’t get an export license and had to get rid of them.”

Next the war hero — who wanted to be a jockey as a youth—placed an ad in a London paper which read: “Will go anywhere, do anything.” But no one wanted him to go anywhere, or do anything.

Then he went to Paris where he studied and painted steadily for two years before coming to the States.

“When I came here, in 1948, my first interview for a job was with the New York Herald-Tribune,” he says. “I applied for a spot as a theatre caricaturist and they sent me out on an assignment the same day of the interview — to Philadelphia. ‘Oh boy!,’ I thought, ‘This is how they do business in the States’.” Rouson can’t remember the name of the play he was sent to see in Philadelphia, but he does remember the stars: Melvin Douglas and Jan Sterling. “Miss Sterling had a broken nose,” he remembers, “and I noticed that it’s since been changed.”

Rouson stayed with the Herald-Trib until later that year when he Americanized Little Sport, the gag-a-day adventures of a harried, hapless little silent practitioner of many sports who usually seems to be on the losing end (when he rode to hounds, a fox chased thedogs).

Limited Budget
“I only brought $1,000 with me,” he says, “and my budget was extremely limited. I needed an income badly so I showed the strip to a few syndicates but they turned it down. The shape of the strip and everything else about it was so new that nobody thought it had a chance. One night at a cocktail party I met someone who told me I might try the Philadelphia Bulletin. I went there the following day but they too turned down the strip. They could see no hope for it and said it was the wrong shape and full of English humor. I showed it to a reporter who liked it and he told me to try the Philadelphia Inquirer. Eventually they bought it and ran it in the Inquirer and in the Morning Telegraph, another Annenberg paper. Later we syndicated it with George Little of General Features and within a few months we were in 70 papers.”

That was in February, 1949. In October, 1955 Rouson Americanized Boy and Girl, aided and abetted by George Little. Little Eve first saw the light of day in January of 1954 and was drawn by his ex-wife Jolita. Although divorced, Rouson continues to draw the strip under Jolita’s by-line. Ladies Day came into being December, 1958.

Horsey Artist
Little Sport started out as a racing feature, but in order to gain a more universal appeal Rouson switched his attention to all sports. “It’s simply an attempt to satisfy everybody from the major sports on down to horseshoe pitching and weightlifting. Racing, however, continues as my favorite sport. Baseball? The sport seems to have some wonderful personalities, but it still seems like ‘rounders’ to me.”

“I get some funny mail on that Little Sport,” says Rouson, for 17 years a resident of New York’s Staten Island, “a lot of people think there’s a code someplace in the strip that gives the numbers of winning racehorses. I don’t know how people see these things in the strip, the only code I use is a numerical one for the date.”

The self-taught artist is much sought-after by racehorse owners. “I do a lot of horse portraits by commission only,” he says, “and many of them have appeared in Turf magazine. I’ve travelled all over the U.S. and Canada doing horse portraits and love doing it. I’d like to do it full-time, but I have my strips and although it sometimes gets tedious doing four strips a week I like doing them too.’’

He finds painting to be a form of therapy. “Besides thoroughbreds,” he says, “I have a great appreciation for color . . . it’s such a welcome change to be able to use color after the daily routine of black and white in newspaper work.”

The son of a butcher (“It’s a paradox, he loved animals.”) Rouson is a life-long horse buff. “An uncle of mine,” he says, “was a carriage builder to the Royal Family and he owned some trotters. One of my biggest thrills as a kid was when he let me hold the horse’s reins. And I was always reading Sporting Sketches magazine, it was full of beautiful sketches of jockeys and horses.”

“I sometimes wish,” he says, gazing out at the view of New York Harbor he can see from his patio, “that I could devote all of my energy into just one strip. With income tax the way it is I could comfortably drop a strip or two and get along just great, but my contract won’t allow me to do so.”

The former theatre critic says he has “no enthusiasm for writing anymore.” He even hates to answer his mail. “Cartooning,” he concludes, “has become a way of life with me. It used to be an adventure, but no more. I’m at an age now where I feel that my next big adventure will be retirement.

News of Yore 1984: New Strip Dick and Jane Announced


Newspaper Readers Watching ‘Dick and Jane’ Run 

(from Editor and Publisher, March 24 1984)


 “Dick and Jane,” a comic featuring the characters many American schoolchildren learned to read with, was introduced by the Register and Tribune Syndicate (RTS) earlier this month.

Charter newspapers for Chuck Roth’s new strip include the Philadelphia Inquirer, Orlando Sentinel, Dallas Times Herald, Detroit News and Baltimore Evening Sun.

One Sunday episode reads, “See Dick eating a vanilla ice cream cone,” “See Jane eating a chocolate ice cream cone,” “See Sally eating a strawberry ice cream cone,” then the dog Spot zooms by and swipes the ice cream from each of the three cones. The last panel states, “See Spot eating a Neapolitan ice cream cone.”

“Even though the comic strip may be classified as adult-level humor, I have tried never to lose sight of the pure, simplistic approach,” said Roth. “Actually, as the strip progressed, I felt like one of the kids! I guess emotionally there’s still a child somewhere in all of us.”

RTS president Dennis R. Allen found Roth after a more than seven-year search for the right  “Dick and Jane” cartoonist.

Roth is president and founder of the California-based Roth International. The design company works with over 200 firms worldwide under licensing contracts to apply Roth designs to products in more than 100 categories. Prior to that, he headed the Roth Greeting Card Company.

The cartoonist traces his artistic beginnings back to the third grade in Toronto, where he entered the Ontario Safety League poster contest and won second prize over thousands of other entrants. Roth later completed the art course at Central Technical School in Toronto, and, after moving to the U.S., attended the Art Center School of Design in Los Angeles.

 Thanks to John Lund for sending the article. John, your email address is not working, my emails are bouncing back.


4 comments on “News of Yore 1984: New Strip Dick and Jane Announced

  1. So… Scott Foresman (or whoever by then owned the no longer used "Dick & Jane" books and characters) officially licensed this strip?

  2. Hello Allan-
    I myself was once taught with the aid of Dick and Jane,and their baby sister Sally. Though the adventures on offer were so imperceptible as to border on Zen, all these years later, are still vividly recalled. Don't believe "Dick and Jane" were a copyrighted trade mark as you can't control common forenames. The once familiar early readers were discontinued as their teaching method (Sight-Say) was abandoned in favor of more pop-fashionable theories (phonics). The short-lived Dick and Jane strip came along years after their schoolastic inspirations vanished from kiddies' sight.
    Denny Allen missed the mark many times in the last yearsof the R&T, and if memory serves, this was one of the titles that was often thrown back at him as an example of his poor judgement.

  3. I have a collection of the entire run of "Dick And Jane" from newspaper clippings and photocopies, and actually remember every gag, even down to their original publication dates. I have scanned all of them on my computer before, but consider making newer and bigger scans. Even though the "Dick And Jane" comic strip is not quite as strong in my mind nowadays, it still very much plays a big influence in my tastes for humor and characters today. When I first read this comic strip back in 1984, that was when I first discovered that I adore cute characters. I also draw comics as a hobby, and have drawn mainly adult male characters for years. But I am currently in a cute and gentle – and toning down – phase and now enjoy drawing small children. I began doing such a comic strip series in 2020. An old comic strip series that I worked on for years is now taking a back seat to this new comic strip series.

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News of Yore 1914: Winsor McCay and Wife Involved in Lurid Courtroom Drama

 From the Brooklyn Times, Sept. 24 1914:


An alienation suit for $250,000 has been filed in the Supreme Court by Mrs. Irene Lamkin against Miss (sic) Maude McCay of Sheepshead Bay.

Mrs. Lamkin alleges that Miss McCay stole her husband’s affections and prevailed upon him to abandon her June 15. When Mr. Lamkin left her, so Mrs. Lamkin asserts, he went to Sheepshead Bay. The Lamkins were married eight years ago. According to Mrs. Lamkin her husband met Miss McCay during the summer of 1913.

From the Pittsburgh Gazette Times, Dec. 23 1914:

Winsor McCay Tells Threats Of Mrs.Lamkin

 Cartoonist Testifies in Effort to Prove ”Frame-Up” in $250,000 Heart Balm Suit.


 [Special Telegram to Gazette Times]
NEW YORK, Dec. 22.    Winsor McCay, the cartoonist, was the star witness today in the trial of the divorce suit brought by Mrs. Irene Watkins Lamkin against her husband, Henry Tobin Lamkin. The case is being tried in the State Supreme Court before Justice Erlanger. Mrs. Maude McCay, wife of the cartoonist, is named as co-respondent.

The McCays assert that the Lamkins are acting in collusion. Mrs. Lamkin has begun a suit for $250,000 damages for alleged alienation of her husband’s affections against Mrs. McCay. Lawyer Norton announced he would prove a “frame-up” by the plaintiff and defendant of the divorce case to obtain money from the McCays.

Mr. McCay testified that he had been married 23 years and was satisfied that his wife was true and the victim of a “frameup.”

The night of March 8, McCay said, Mrs. Lamkin sought him at the stage door of a theater where he was appearing and threatened that unless he did something for her she would begin proceedings  against Mrs. McCay, saying:

“Your wife has ruined my home, alienated my husband’s affections and you will have to support me.” When he protested he could not support her, McCay said, Mrs. Lamkin threatened publicity, adding: “You are making $100,000 a year. I’ll bring suit against you and drive Mrs. McCay from New York.” McCay said she telephoned him continually until he consented to a meeting, He said Mr. Lamkin remarked: “They are together this very minute.”

Later he took Mrs. Lamkin to dinner and during the meal Mrs. Lamkin said; “If they are out together why can’t we be out together?” McCay said he spent $28 for wine that night and bought imported cigarets, after which he took her in a taxicab to Shanley’s.

“Her actions were such that I knew I was in the hands of a bad woman,” the cartoonist testified. “I would rather not tell the details. I took her behind the scenes at Hammerstein’s and later took her home, as she said we ought not to stay out all night.”

“After many telephone entreaties,” McCay said, he went to the Iowa apartments, “to see this $250,000 husband,” meaning Lamkin. Both Lamkins greeted him so cordially that he took them out for an evening in the all-night restaurant belt, the party continuing until 5:30 o’clock in the morning.

Lamkin on that occasion, the witness swore, declared that Mrs. Lamkin was the cleverest, handsomest woman in the world and that he was not going to give her up. Mr. McCay said his own reply was: “You stick to your wife, and if you injure my wife I’ll kill you.” He said Lamkin replied: “Your wife is a good pure woman. She thinks you are a great man, but you don’t take her out often enough.”

And finally from the Washington Post, Dec. 24 1914:


 Cartoonist’s Wife Vindicated of Charges in Divorce Case


 New York Jurist Dismises Action for Divorce on Motion of Attorney for Artist’s Helpmeet, but Refuses Similar Motion by Mrs. Lamkin’s Lawyer on Ground of Collusion 

New York, Dec. 23.

Mrs. Maude I. McCay, wife of Winsor McCay, a cartoonist, was vindicated today when Justice Erlanger, in the Supreme Court, dismissed the action for divorce brought by Mrs. Irene Walkins Lamkin against her husband, Harry Tobin Lamkin, in which Mrs. McCay was namd as corespondent.

The justice declared that there was evidence of collusion between the plaintiff and the defendant and refused to permit further attacks upon the character of Mrs. McCay by counsel of Mrs. Lamkin.

Denies Bathing Charge

In her deposition, Mrs. McCay denied, among other things, a charge that on one occasion she had taken a bath in the same tub with Harry Tobin Lamkin. Mrs. McCay not only denied all the charges made by Mrs. Lamkin, but advanced the contention that she and Lamkin were never married legally.

Refuses to Call It Mistrial

Mrs. Lamkin’s counsel made a motion that the trial be declared a mistrial, but this was promptly denied by Justice Erlanger, who said that in a case of this character, where the defendant refused to defend the action, the corespondent must be given all the rights of the defendant and be permitted to testify fully.

Lived Together Despite Conditions

Elliott Norton, counsel for Mrs. McCay, moved that the action be dismissed, and in his argument directed attention to the fact that it had been proven that the plaintiff had continued to live with her husband at least one year after she admitted she knew of his relations with other women.

News of Yore 1952: Cartoonist F.O. Alexander Honors Newsboys with Stamp Design


 Tribute Paid To Newsboys In Stamp Issue


Given Special Recognition Nation-Wide; Ceremony at Philadelphia

Philadelphia, October 6 1952 (AP) — The nation’s great paused yesterday to pay tribute to the boy next door — the one who delivers your newspaper.

The youthful champions of free enterprise got special recognition yesterday when the U.S. Post Office placed on sale a three-cent stamp honoring their service to community and country.

In a special ceremony at Benjamin Franklin Institute, Postmaster General Jesse M. Donaldson will present the first stamp to a newspaperboy. The Franklin Institute was chosen, Donaldson said, because Franklin was “probably the first newspaperboy.”

The stamp will be sold exclusively in Philadelphia for a short time and then will be placed on sale throughout the nation. It depicts a newspaperboy carrying papers in an average American community. On the boy’s bag is the legend, “Busy Boys . . . Better Boys.”The stamp, printed in three shades of purple, was adapted from a sketch made by the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin’s editorial cartoonist, F.O. Alexander.

The paper carriers were honored by the Bulletin at a banquet Friday attended by such prominent former newspaperboys as Secretary of the Treasury John W. Snyder, Harold Stassen, president of the University of Pennsylvania, former U.S. Senator Francis J. Myers and Horace A. Hildreth, president of Bucknell University and former governor of Maine.

Similar ceremonies were held throughout the country in conjunction with National Newspaper Week.

This post was possible courtesy of Mark and Cole Johnson, who sent me the newspaper clipping (from the Glens Falls Post-Star) along with the following promo photo of Alexander. Cole wrote the following on the back of the photo:
“F.O. Alexander in his office at the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin on May 28 1965. 
Alex strikes a pose with an unlit pipe at his drawing board. Out the window can be seen the northern end of the platforms at 30th Street Station. 
He gave me this original in about 1980, I have no idea where or if it was published. He passed away in 1993. He told me he lost his hair in a mustard gas attack in frontline combat in WWI. Pictures of him in the 1920s would bear that out.”

One comment on “News of Yore 1952: Cartoonist F.O. Alexander Honors Newsboys with Stamp Design

  1. Hello Allan-
    Actually, It were I who wrote the description of the photograph. I put in a lot of hours at the Philadelphia library tracking down (based on the edition of the Bulletin in the foreground and the cartoon he is pretending to work on) the exact date of the picture. It was great to have lots of time and energy to spend on such things.
    Still have yet to find any ultimate purpose for the photo's creation, it occurs to me he had it commissioned for his own use, if there were autograph fans, or something. The rough, unmatted edges, and the sharp quality tell me this is the photographer's proof, the last copy of the picture in his possession. It's now framed, on my hallway wall, next to a picture, undoubtably the final time ever, that he drew of Hairbreadth Harry, Rudolph and Belinda.
    You will remember on New Year's day 2019 the Stripper's Guide entry about the Evening Bulletin souvenir booklet? Well, Alex's office was on the side of the building, looking across to the train station.

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News of Yore 1972 : Morrie Turner Profiled

Wee Pals Strip takes its Creator into Big Business

by Jim Scott (Editor & Publisher, January 15 1972)


Morrie Turner conducts a ‘chalk talk’ for children in Berkeley school.
Integration came later to the fiercely competitive world of cartooning than it did to sports. But the progenitor, Morrie Turner, of Oakland, California, is making it just as big as Jackie Robinson did in baseball, proving anew to youngsters that it’s talent, not color, that counts. 

The genial Morrie, whose voice flows as soft as sorghum, is the creator of “Wee Pals,” a daily comic strip, that the Regis­ter and Tribune Syndicate, Des Moines, distributes to 75 papers, including two in Africa. 

(One African girl wrote Morrie: “Is it possible to make a living selling lemonade on the street?”) 

“Cartooning has always been the big interest in my life,” ,says Turner. “But newspapers have provided me with an extra bonus. It’s prestige, prestige that opens many doors, principally the door to childhood.” 

Close to Children
Turner appears frequently before school children in Oakland and Berkeley for “chalk talks.” He’s particularly proud of the “Wee Pals Read-in,” which he con­ducts during the summer, in Berkeley pub­lic libraries. Sometimes children refuse to believe that this kindly gentleman is an artist but their doubts vanish rapidly as he sketches Nipper on the blackboard. 

He draws about 30 letters a week, about half of them from youngsters. They even send him cartoon ideas-some usable. 

Morrie gets no inspiration from his own family, for his and Letha’s only child Morris, is grown, gone and working for the telephone company. 

Charles Schulz, of “Peanuts” fame has been Turner’s hero, and he admits pattern­mg Wee Pals after “Peanuts.” (Schulz first strip was called “Little Folks”) 

Like Schulz, Turner now is big in books – author of four cartoon works, “Wee Pals,” “Kid Power,” “Right-On, Wee Pals,” and “Wee Pals Getting Together.” He’s also produced two children’s books, “Nipper” and “Nipper Power.” Moreover, he and Letha turned out a “Black and White” coloring book. 

Further, Morrie authored “Freedom Is,” a cartoon compilation of opinions of sixth grade pupils in Berkeley schools. Another of this stripe, bowing shortly, is ‘God is Groovy,” in which youngsters  talk about God. 

Turner also is following Schulz into television. ABC will give Nipper and his friends the full-hour treatment in the Fall. 

Again like Schulz, Turner has gone into merchandising. An Oakland firm, Outta Print, is producing Wee Pals T shirts, bearing such legends as “Rainbow Pow­er” and “Peace Loves Peanut Butter and Jelly.” 

A comparative little guy himself, at 5-9, 165, Turner has odd work habits. He prefers the still of the night. 

He starts work at midnight and re­mains at the drawing board until around 4 a.m. 

“I also watch television,” “Rather, I listen to it. I watch the start of a movie for about five minutes to place the charac­ters in my mind, then turn away from it to go to work. After that, I don’t see the screen but simply hear the words.” 

He sleeps till around noon. Oatmeal is his favorite breakfast food. 

The Turners occupy a two-bedroom unit in an Oakland apartment building, and one bedroom serves as his office. Plaques and trophies he has won decorate the walls. 

Morrie finds plenty to do after break­fast. With Letha’s help, he answers his mail. Besides his grade school visits, he teaches an adult cartoon class at night at Laney College and also serves the Volun­teer Bureau, a wing of the Community Chest. And several times monthly he planes to the East or Midwest for appear­ances before school and parent-teacher groups. 

Turner didn’t make an impressive start in cartooning. In fact, he flunked an art course at Berkeley High, where his only fame came as a quarter-miler on the track team. (“We were always drawing flow­ers,” he said. “I prefer people.”) 

At this time, Morrie had already start­ed sketching friends and neighbors. 

After his graduation from high school, Morrie Turner joined the Army, and it was in camp papers that his cartoons first appeared. 

In Police Clerk’s Job

At war’s end, Morrie returned home in 1946 and married his high school sweetheart. He caught on as a police clerk in Oakland, remaining on the job 13 years. 

In his spare time, Turner kept busy at the drawing board. He sold often to trade journals, then he began hitting Collier’s, Look and the Saturday Evening Post.

By 1960, Morrie was making enough on his cartoons to quit his job and go full­time into his beloved avocation. He began turning out “Dinky Fellas,” for free for the Berkeley Post, a black weekly. It in­cluded only three characters; today, 11 populate Wee Pals. 

Lew Little, looking for a Negro strip for his syndicate, heard about Turner’s talent in 1964, checked over his Post creations and signed him up.

The Oakland Tribune and the Los An­geles Times were the first papers to ac­cept the strip and Morrie was on his way. Since then, it has been only onward and upward. 

In his Sunday cartoon, Turner early introduced “Soul Corner,” in which he often salutes some outstanding Negro out of the past. 

“Letha does all the research on this for me,” said Morrie with a wink. 

3 comments on “News of Yore 1972 : Morrie Turner Profiled

  1. Hello Allen-
    Here's a question (that nobody ever asked but me), What strip went through the most different syndicates? I think it might be Wee Pals. It started as a Lew Little, then became a Register & Tribune, then King Features, Then United Features, then Field Enterprises,News America, North America and finally Creator's.

  2. Mark, you know that's the sort of question that's like red meat to me. Look for a post exploring the answer here next week, and get ready to argue about it — no two comic fans will ever agree on the answer.


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