Category : Women Cartoonists

Obscurity of the Day: Femininities


Well, this doesn’t happen too often, thankfully. I’m running an Obscurity of the Day today in order to tell you that it does not qualify to be in my book (feature #1955) and should never have been included there. 

In the early 1930s NEA’s fabulous woman cartoonist, Ethel Hays, must have been feeling the need to cut back on her duties. Coming into that decade she was responsible for the daily Flapper Fanny panel, the 3-4 times per week Ethel panel, and she was also more and more often on tap to provide Sunday magazine covers. Something had to give. In 1930 she handed off the Flapper Fanny panel to a new artist, and then in that same year she cut her Ethel panels back to 1-2 times per week. 

Gladys Parker came to the rescue in both cases; first she took over Flapper Fanny; then she took up the slack on the women’s pages when Ethel was reduced in frequency. In the latter case, she created a feature called Femininities which, as you can see in the samples above, is not in any way a comic panel. It is instead more in the nature of a graphic showing fashion trends. There’s nothing wrong with that, and Gladys Parker’s delightful art is always worth a long and joyful gander, but it ain’t comics. 

Apparently when I was working through the NEA archives at OSU at beakneck speed, I saw the title, I saw the byline, and into my index it went withlout a second thought. So mea culpa, he said, in the internet-based confessional. 

As long as we’re here, I’ll throw out some data: the feature began on April 10 1930 and generally ran 2-3 times per week.When Ethel Hays ended her Ethel panel in 1934, Femininities ran a bit more often after that, and ended sometime in 1935. I say sometime,  because the feature often ran untitled and I lost track of it in the NEA archives during that period. I’ve had no better luck retracing those steps in digital newspapers, as they seem unable to find Hays’ feature mst of the time.

Alex Jay will be weighing in on Wednesday with an Ink-Slinger Profile about Gladys Hays, and if you find yourself a fan of her impressive work, I highly recommend Trina Robbins’ book Gladys Parker: A Life in Comics, A Passion for Fashion.


Obscurity of the Day: Angelina’s Line a Day

Dorothy Hughes‘ single-panel cartoon series, Angelina’s Line a Day, ran in the Boston Post from February 2 1929 until April 4 1942. Despite the good quality of the drawings and gags, the feature seems to have never been offered in syndication.

Trina Robbins has original art samples of a few later features created by Hughes, but if they ever saw newsprint I’m not aware of it.

The title of this panel series is a mystery. First, the panel ran twice per week for all of its existence as far as I know, so where does the “Line a Day” come in? And second, who the heck is Angelina? As far as I know, there was no continuing character by that name in the feature.

 In the 1920s, there was a Dorothy Hughes who was a beauty queen, a model, a showgirl and an actress, and married an editor of the New York Mirror tabloid. I so wanted this to be the gal who also created Angelina’s Line a Day. But Alex Jay, that party-pooper, spoiled my fun. More on our Dorothy Hughes tomorrow in his Ink-Slinger Profile.

Magazine Covers: Kathleen and the Great Secret

The American Weekly cover serial Kathleen and the Great Secret does not qualify as a cartoon panel for listing in my book. However, Cole Johnson sent my a few samples from this lovely Nell Brinkley drawn series, and I welcome the opportuntiy to share them with you.

If you are a Brinkley fan, or are intrigued to perhaps become one based on these amazing covers, I recommend you pick up Trina Robbins’ The Brinkley Girls, which offers amazing restorations of a slew of Brinkley covers. In fact the two above are included in the book, lovingly restored, which is why I chose to leave these ones as raw scans to offer contrast.

Thanks, Cole Johnson!

Obscurity of the Day: Girls will be Girls

Fay King was never much more than a barely serviceable cartoonist, and I imagine she would have been the first to admit that, but she did seem to know how to endear herself to the newspaper-reading public. King’s personal life had some rather interesting episodes that were gleefully covered in the press (Alex Jay will discuss them tomorrow in an Ink-Slinger Profile) and she produced a popular illustrated column for the Denver Post, then Hearst’s New York American and New York Mirror that ran for decades.

Strangely enough, though, Fay only tried one actual comic strip series — it was a daily called Girls will be Girls, and it was a half-baked soap opera concerned a group of attractive flapper-types. It was an unfortunate choice to opt for melodrama as King’s cartooning was really suited best to humor, and I find myself waiting for a punchline that never comes in each of these samples.

Despite Fay King’s popularity, Girls will be Girls seems to have been an utter failure in selling to newspapers. It has only been found (so far) in it’s home paper, the New York Mirror, where it ran from June 24 1924 to March 19 1925. A breathless endorsement from the cartoonist herself in Hearst’s Circulation magazine doesn’t seem to have impressed any editors into buying it.

Fay King’s strip is one of only two I’ve ever seen carrying Hearst’s Public Press syndicate copyright.I’m afraid I know nothing about the circumstances, business model, or principals involved in this very obscure Hearst syndicate.

One thing I do know is that in my book you’ll find another strip by Fay King, that one called Mazie. Well, you can get out your Sharpies and put an ‘X’ through it. Mazie was listed in my book on the strength of a sample and write-up appearing in Robbins and Yronwode’s Women and the Comics. However, I realized in looking at these newly acquired samples above, the Robbins/Yronwode sample shown in the book, and re-reading Fay King’s article about the strip, that Mazie and Girls will be Girls are the same strip. Mazie was just the name of the lead flapper in the strip.

Obscurity of the Day: Toyland

Here’s Toyland by lady cartoonist Myrtle Held. This is one of the first daily-style strips ever produced as a special offering for the Christmas season. The closed-end Christmas strip would later become a syndicate staple, with King Features, NEA, AP and others offering one every year.

Toyland ran in the Christmas season in 1913 and 1914. In its home paper, the New York Evening World, the running dates were December 3 1913 to January 28 1914 (obviously they had some leftovers that had to run late), and December 5 to 17 1914.

The above sample is the first strip in the 1913 series, and has a rather un-Christmasy subject, a woman who didn’t wait for her sailor beau to return from sea. This first strip has pretty awkward art, and the gag has nothing to do with the characters being toys, but Held improved quite a bit in her later offerings.

Obscurity of the Day: The Angel Child

Kate Carew was quite the big-time New York celebrity in the first decades of the 20th century. In addition to her cartooning, she did a lot of feature writing for newspapers, and her byline was always displayed prominently (much as today’s sample strip does). The multi-talented Carew specialized in feature stories about celebrities and bigwigs, usually accompanied with Art Nouveau-influenced caricatures.

Carew’s only continuing comic strip series known to me is The Angel Child, though OSU also credits her with a 1903 strip titled Handy Andy which I’ve not seen (anyone have a sample or know where it ran?). The Angel Child was a fairly typical mischievous kid strip, with the minor deviation that the little girl always ended up getting praised for the unintended positive consequences of her pranks. The final panel always had the child being offered a treat by her parents, and our sample strip is particularly interesting because the treat tendered is a can of sardines -yum! No chocolate cake for me, thanks, I’d rather have the salted chum.

The Angel Child had a healthy run in the Sunday comic section of the New York World. The feature ran 4/27/1902 – 2/19/1905.

Here’s an excellent page that has a capsule bio and interview with Carew.