Saturday, May 07, 2011
Sorry for the quality of this one. Between a badly printed source paper and scratched-up fuzzy microfilm, I threw in the towel pretty early in the touch-up process.
Labels: Herriman's LA Examiner Cartoons
Friday, May 06, 2011
Obscurity of the Day: Baron Munchausen
Baron Munchausen is, and in public domain to boot, it seems odd to me that his adventures have only once been adapted into a comic strip. Oh sure, there have been plenty of features that had similar characters who told outrageous self-aggrandizing lies, but never did anyone seem to want to dip into the original well.
Well, if it could only be done once, then it's nice that it was done so well. Klaus Nordling, at the very beginning of his cartooning career, did Baron Munchausen as a weekly strip for the tiny Van Tine Features Syndicate. Klaus was barely twenty years old when he tackled the assignment, but his storytelling and artwork were already top-notch. Nordling's appropriately over the top tall tales are accompanied by deliciously witty, highly polished art. No big surprise that Klaus became one of the leading lights of the Golden Age of comic books when he switched over to that genre a few years later.
The strip ran from 1935 (starting before October 14th of that year, my earliest example) and ran until sometime in 1937, probably ending early in that year.
It may have been the only issue of Classics Illustrated ever done in a stylized cartoony style
Klaus Fjalar Nordling was born in Pori, Finland on May 29, 1910 according to a family tree at Ancestry.com. He was the only child of Gustaf Ribert and Aili Karoliina. The family sailed aboard the S.S. Oscar II from Copenhagen, Denmark on August 22, 1912; they landed in New York City on September 3. Nordling's father was a self-employed photographer as recorded on his World War I draft card. They lived at 4213 8th Avenue in Brooklyn, New York.
The Nordlings were recorded in the 1920 U.S. Federal Census at the same address. Nordling's father had been in the U.S. since 1903. In 1930, they lived at 4015 7th Avenue in Brooklyn. Nordling's first name was recorded as "Frank" and his occupation was a clerk in the diplomatic industry.
The Ridgefield Press reported the death of his wife, Lilja Heta Tellervo "Tel", on December 5, 2003; excerpts from the article:
Mrs. Nordling was born in Cambridge, Mass., on March 30, 1910, the
second of four children. Her Finnish-born parents, Risto and Milma
Lappala, moved the family to Virginia, Minn., where they established a
Unitarian ministry and raised their children among the forests, rivers
and lakes of the north woods. True to her Finnish heritage Tellervo was
named for a woods-maiden in the Finnish national epic, the “Kalevala,”
and had a deep and life-long love of nature and the outdoors.
She was educated as a librarian, and lived briefly in Germany as a
student until the imminent outbreak of World War II brought her back to
the United States. Besides being fluent in Finnish, she also became
proficient in German. She met Klaus Nordling, a cartoonist and comic
book artist, while she was working as a translator for a Finnish newspaper
in Brooklyn, N.Y. They married in March 1937, and lived in Brooklyn and
Minnesota until moving first to Redding [Connecticut], and then in the
mid-1940s to Florida Hill Road in Ridgefield [Connecticut], where Mr.
Nordling worked at his home studio.
According to Who's Who in American Comic Books 1928-1999, Nordling began his career as a gag cartoonist and caricaturist for Americana Magazine in the early 1930s, and then produced Baron Munchausen in the mid-1930s. The late 1930s saw his entry into the comic book field. An overview of his comics career is at Wikipedia; a list his comic book credits is at the Grand Comics Database.
During the mid-1950s the newspaper, Bridgeport Telegram (Connecticut), reported on his theater work as an actor and director. Nordling passed away on November 19, 1986, in Ridgefield, Connecticut, according to the Connecticut Death Index.
Nordling himself in Alter Ego #60 claims it as his work. Where did you find the strip appearing later? It should indeed be reprints, but I'd like to check it out if its online.
Thursday, May 05, 2011
Can You Help?
From Ulrich Merkl:
I'm still researching about Robert McCay, found out many interesting details, but nothing about the strip HIS JOB. I've only got three samples from Peter Maresca. Do you think you could post a 'Please help' call on your website? Anybody out there being aware of any strips, dates, newspapers, etc.? I don't want you to do my homework, but I really don't know how to reach only 1/10 of the strip experts you can easily reach with your blog.
(Ulrich is primarily looking for papers that ran it. It only ran for a week in the New York Journal, only place I've found it. And he's found the SF Examiner running it in July 1923. But we are pretty certain it ran longer than that.)
From Tony Rose, University of Arkansas at Little Rock:
I'm trying to find out more about the cartooning career of an early 20th century illustrator, Royal Roger Eubanks (born 1879). Our archives has just received a very large collection of letters and ephemera from a wealthy Cherokee family, one member of whom was briefly married to Eubanks. I'm familiar with his career as a book illustrator in the 1920s but I know next to nothing about his cartooning.
He signed himself "R. Ubanx". At the turn of the century, 1902 or so, he was working for the Chicago Evening Journal. He may have had a larger business role than merely cartoonist. Family history connects him to something called the "Star Cartoonist Company."
By 1910, following a divorce, he was back in his hometown in Oklahoma (he was a Cherokee), living with his parents. He listed his occupation on the census as "cartoonist." In 1920 he illustrated a collection of Native American folk tales called "Tales of the Bark Lodges." He also wrote some dialect tales of his own.
He spent the later part of his life as a high school teacher in Berryville, Arkansas, dying in about 1955.
How many "Hocus Focus" cartoons are known to exist?
Labels: Q and A
Wednesday, May 04, 2011
Obscurity of the Day: Life On The Radio Wave
This panel feature ran 3-4 times per week in the San Francisco Chronicle from March 26 to August 26 1922, very early for a radio feature. In fact as we can see from these samples the radio was still a homemade instrument at the time, and was being used as a telephone substitute in addition to it's better known role in home entertainment.
The cartoonist, who signed himself just 'Pinto' on the feature, was Vance DeBar "Pinto" Colvig. Colvig never hit the bigtime as a cartoonist, but he had other talents up his sleeve. He was a vaudeville actor, a clown, and ultimately made his mark as a voice actor for motion picture cartoons. He was Bluto in the Popeye cartoons, Pluto and Goofy for Disney, among other memorable roles. He even provided the voice for one of the Munchkins in The Wizard of Oz.
He also has the distinction of being the very first Bozo the Clown, first on read-along records, then on television.
Tuesday, May 03, 2011
Obscurity of the Day: Figurin' Sam
numbers game features. Why gamblers felt that some cartoonist in the newspaper's bullpen had some secret mystical ability to pick lucky numbers is beyond me, but apparently they did.
Figurin' Sam offered up a gag a day (submitted by readers) plus a whole slew of 'lucky' numbers cleverly placed in the background. It also offers a stereotypical depiction of blacks in perhaps its most elemental form -- our stars are little more than inkblots. The feature was never signed, but in it's early days was bylined by 'Heck'; I have no idea if this was the cartoonist's real name. The feature began in 1930 in the Boston Record, and lasted until at least 1940 if not longer. Around 1932 the feature was demoted to one-column size and the byline was dropped.
For a feature whose existence was mainly to purvey random numbers, the gags are often surprisingly good. Guess those Boston Record readers were a witty bunch. I have a slew of these panels in my collection, and when I read through a batch I was surprised to be chuckling regularly. A few extra samples (minus the mushmouth act):
"What do you think of this? That doctor said he was going to treat me and now he sends me a bill!"
"Sam, there's a machine out now that can tell when you're lying. Heard of it?" "Heard of it? Why, I'm married to one!"
"Imagine, Sam! My uncle worked in a store for $3 a week and in five years he owned the store!" "Oh, I can believe that. They didn't have cash registers in those days!"
Thanks to Cole Johnson for the samples!
Monday, May 02, 2011
Obscurity of the Day: Little Miss Muffet
But oh how they tried. There was Little Annie Rooney, Big Sister and other pretenders to the throne. Although many of the Annie wannabees had long runs, none ever succeeded in grabbing more than a thread from her popular coattail. Which brings us to today's obscurity, Little Miss Muffet.
This moppet shared a similar backdrop -- Millie Muffet started her comic strip life at a prestigious girl's school, where, on the very first day of the strip, she was informed that her parents seemed to have disappeared. Without the steady stream of dough to keep her in pinafores, the schoolmistress was all set to pack Millie off to an orphanage. Instead Muffet high-tailed it. Unlike Annie, though, Muffet had a knack for finding herself dependable benefactors. Rarely did Millie ever lack for pinafores or anything else. Her Shirley Temple looks and beatific personality usually had people practically fighting one another to take care of her.
Little Miss Muffet ended up being sort of a genteel version of Annie. Sure there was drama, but seldom anything that would raise the pulse too far. However, unlike the stupendously dull Big Sister, this strip was a perfectly pleasant read. But the writing wasn't the strip's draw anyway. It was the incredible artwork of Fanny Y. Cory. Cory was a major illustrator around the turn of the century, but a husband, kids, and a Montana ranch to take care of had taken her out of the game. By the mid-20s, though, she was looking for work and got into doing newspaper cartoons. By 1935, when Little Miss Muffet began, she was already with Hearst, doing her Sonnysayings panel.
From the sounds of it, Cory was offered the art chores on the new strip purely as a contract position. King Features staffers provided the scripts. In fact, Cory is on record at having chafed over the gentility of the writing, which is odd considering that her Sonnysayings panel was about as saccharine sweet as they come. Her disdain for the writing didn't slow her down though. The art on Little Miss Muffet is terrific stuff, with incredible attention to detail (for instance, note that Eph's checkered jacket is always hand-drawn, not a screen -- what a task!).
The strip began on September 2 1935, with only Cory credited. In 1940 a writer named Tecla Scheuring (surely not a pseudonym!) gained a writing credit for about six years. According to Cory's family she never did the writing except perhaps right at the bitter end. The strip ended on June 30 1956.
Tecla A. Scheuring was born in Wisconsin around 1908 according to the 1910 U.S. Federal Census. She was the only child of Louis and Cecelia; the family lived on Miller Street in Anna, Illinois. Her father was an accountant. In 1920 the Scheurings lived in De Pere, Wisconsin. Scheuring lived at 428 St. James Place in Chicago, Illinois when the 1930 census was recorded. She was an office manager for an aviation corporation, and had a female roommate.
Sunday, May 01, 2011
Jim Ivey's Sunday Comics
Labels: Jim Ivey's Sunday Comics