Wednesday, December 07, 2016


Toppers: Hall of Fame of the Air

In 1935, as King Features was expanding their Sunday line-up, they plugged a big hole in their genre coverage with an aviation strip. Kids were airplane-happy in the 1930s, and King needed to be in that market. And as was the Hearst way, they jumped in with both feet. Helming the project were two famed names in aviation; famous World War I air ace Captain Eddie Rickenbacker to write, and premier aviation illustrator Clayton Knight to draw.

Ace Drummond was a Sunday-only strip, and its slam-bang aerial action was tempered with a very sober-minded but attractive topper, Hall of Fame of the Air. The topper offered capsule biographies of famous aviators and allowed Clayton Knight to show off his illustration skills on material he preferred -- drawing real planes in loving detail.

Knight's story-telling skills, on the other hand, were a tad underdeveloped. The Ace Drummond strip certainly had no shortage of action and derring-do, but Knight seemed unable to match the written excitement in his drawings. Perhaps it was because he was uncomfortable with 'mere cartooning', or maybe he wasn't able to work fast enough. In 1937 the strip's art transitioned away from Knight, and eventually, after a lot of unsigned Sundays, Royal King Cole took over for good, changing the strip to a more cartoony look. In an unusual turn of events for a Sunday comic strip, though, Knight continued producing the topper -- not often you'll see two artists sharing the same Sunday page.

Hall of Fame of the Air ran for the entire span of the Ace Drummond Sunday strip, from February 3 1935 to July 2 1939.


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Tuesday, December 06, 2016


Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Al Posen

1919 Passport Photo

Alvah “Al” Posen was born New York, New York, on October 2, 1894, according to his World War I draft card and 1919 passport application. A naturalization record said Posen’s father, a Russian emigrant, was “Isaak Posin”. The New York, New York, Marriage Index, at, said “Isaac Posin” married Rachel Sheiner on January 7, 1892 in Manhattan, New York City. The New York, New York, Death Index said “Isaac Posen” passed away September 23, 1897 in Brooklyn.

Posen has not yet been found in the 1900 U.S. Federal Census. The 1910 census recorded Posen in his mother’s household which included his older sister Minnie and younger brother Samuel. Their mother was a dealer at a store. The quartet resided in Manhattan at 1493–1495 Madison Avenue.

The 1915 New York state census said the family resided in Brooklyn at 717 Eastern Parkway. Posen’s occupation was cartoonist. Information about Posen’s art training has not been found. Posen illustrated Jo Swerling’s book, Typo Tales, which was advertised in The American Printer, May 1915 and The Printing Art, June 1915.

The New York University Catalogue 1915–1916 listed Posen as a freshman in the School of Commerce, Accounts and Finance.

On June 5, 1917, Posen signed his World War I draft card. Posen’s address was the same and film broker was his occupation. He was described as medium height and build with blue eyes and brown hair. A 1917 New York City directory said Posen worked for the Strand Film Company.

Posen applied for a passport April 18, 1919. A memo said Posen had been a sergeant with the Chemical Warfare Service at 19 West 44th Street, New York City. The application said Posen was a business secretary who was to accompany Wolcott H. Pitkin of the New York Orient Mines Company, 14 Wall Street, New York City. Posen was to travel throughout Europe and parts of Asia.

Posen has not yet been found in the 1920 census because he may have been overseas.

In 1921, Posen was the producer of the lost Marx Brothers’ film Humor Risk which is discussed here and here.

American Newspaper Comics (2012) said Posen’s first strip was Them Days Is Gone Forever which ran from February 13, 1922 to April 4, 1925. Years later it was one of the toppers to Sweeney and Son which had a long run from October 1, 1933 to August 21, 1960. Other Sweeney toppers were Jinglet and Rhymin’ Time, both of them began as dailies. Jinglet’s second appearance was a topper to Ella and Her Fella, which began May 21 and ended September 10, 1933. Two other early Posen series were The Jingles Belles (1924) and Call for Mr. Bingo (1925).

Posen’s home, in the 1930 census, was Brooklyn at 156 West End Avenue. The newspaper cartoonist was the head of the household which included his mother and a lodger. 

Posen’s address was 720 West End Avenue, Manhattan, in the 1940 census and on his World War II draft card which he signed April 27, 1942. The cartoonist said he worked for the Chicago Tribune-New York News Syndicate.

In 1946, Posen was a charter member of the National Cartoonists Society.

Posen passed away June 10, 1960, in New York City, according to the New York Times which reported his death two days later. The cause of death was cancer.

—Alex Jay


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Monday, December 05, 2016


Obscurity of the Day: Them Days is Gone Forever

Here's a joke for you:

Ned the newspaper cartoonist dies after a long hard life. The next thing he knows he's standing in front of a grand old bearded fellow in flowing white robes. Ned thinks to himself that he finally caught a break. What a relief that he's gone to Heaven and not the other place.

The grand gentleman in the robes welcomed him to the kingdom and asked him how he'd like to spend eternity. Ned doesn't need to put much thought into his answer. In life he'd always had to beat the bushes for every little bit of work as a cartoonist, and his passion for cartooning had in many ways been a curse.

Ned replies, "Cartooning is what makes me happy. I would be happy to do it for all eternity. If it's not too much to ask, I'd like to write and draw a popular daily comic strip that would be read throughout your kingdom."

The grand fellow thought for a moment, and then said, "I shall grant your wish, Ned. Our daily paper here sure could use a little levity, and I'm sure you could give all of our billions of souls here a much needed daily laugh." As he said this, his flowing white beard was slowly but surely turning red, and flames started to lick up from below. The robes were consumed in the flames, and Satan's tail began to flick back and forth, as he flashed a mischievous grin.

"Just one little thing, Ned. I think we'll need to make one minor requirement of your comic strip. For all eternity, you shall have to end the strip with the very same punchline. And you don't want to know what'll happen if you don't make me crack a smile every day when I read it. Good luck!"

It seems to me that having to do a daily comic strip with the same punchline every day is the very definition of hell for a cartoonist. Yet Al Posen started a comic strip with exactly that gimmick, and of his own free will! In Them Days Is Gone Forever, which debuted with the then tiny United Feature Syndicate on February 13 1922, not only does Posen tell a gag in rhyme every day, but he ends the rhyme with the exact same punchline. Al Posen must have had a masochistic streak a mile wide.

Posen's self-imposed hell did not end quickly. Though United Feature at that time was basically a hole-in-the-wall syndicate, they did manage to sell Posen's strip to a decent number of papers, making it one of their flagship titles. Once they had a decent number of strips in the can, they also resold the strip to rural papers, presumably on the cheap.

By 1924, though, Posen had to be on the brink of losing his mind, and he finally waved the white flag. On April 21 he renamed the strip to The Jingle Belles, and brought in Josie and Jessie Jingle, a couple of cute dancers as his star attraction. Though he continued the rhyming theme, he no longer had to end each strip with the same line. That must have been a huge relief. Only problem was, it didn't seem to take. Whether it was by Posen's choice or his syndicate insisted, The Jingle Belles was scrapped and Them Days Is Gone Forever was brought back on November 3 of that year. Well, not exactly -- the English was partially corrected -- it was now Them Days Are Gone Forever.

Whatever magic there was in the strip seems to have dissipated, though. Clients weren't nearly as plentiful anymore. As a last ditch attempt to save the strip, in March 1925 the writing of the musical jingles (not the rhymes, but the actual music symbols that ran along the top of the strip) was credited to famed bandleader Vincent Lopez. Whether Mr. Lopez actually wrote any of the strip's musical accompaniment seems far-fetched, but it really didn't matter as the ploy seemed to do nothing to attract clients back to the fold. The strip was cancelled on April 4 1925, and from then on was sold strictly in reprints, which I've seen appearing as laste as 1928.

An odd postscript to the story of this strip is that Mr. Posen gave final proof of his madness a decade later. Having sold a strip to the Chicago Tribune-New York News Syndicate called Sweeney and Son, he resurrected Them Days is Gone Forever as a topper to the Sunday strip. Well, at least he only had to face writing one new rhyme each week as opposed to every day!


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Saturday, December 03, 2016


Herriman Saturday

December 23, 1908 -- Two days before Christmas, and I'll bet that George drew this nice cartoon up well in advance to give him a little time off to go shopping. This is the type of material they call "evergreen" in the newspaper business, because it can be run at any time. It is common for editors to have a drawer full of this sort of material at hand for when deadlines are looning and big hunk of whitespace is staring at them.


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Friday, December 02, 2016


Wish You Were Here, from Dwig

Here's another postcard from the Raphael Tuck School Days Series (#170) by Dwig. These are embossed cards with divided backs.


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Thursday, December 01, 2016


Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: William Paul Pim

William Paul Pim was born in Freeport, Pennsylvania, on December 1, 1885, according to Alabama Authors, BhamWiki and other sources. However, Who Was Who in America with World Notables, Volume 3, (1960) said Pim was born near Freeport, and Who’s Who in American Art, Volume 1 (1935) said his birthplace was in Armstrong County.

The 1900 U.S. Federal Census recorded Pim as the oldest of two children. Who Was Who said their parents were Ira Lester Pim and Mary Ella Dougherty. The family lived in Butler, Pennsylvania.

Who Was Who said Pim graduated from Cabot (Pennsylvania) Institute in 1903, and studied photo-engraving Bissell College in Effingham, Illinois in 1906.

Pim’s residence in the 1910 census was Cleveland, Ohio at 1854 East 18th Street. His occupation was commercial artist. Who Was Who said Pim had a studio in Cleveland until 1914.

From 1915 to 1917, Pim resided in Birmingham, Alabama, where he was a cartoonist for the Birmingham News. He married Lenna E. Hales on July 16, 1917 in Birmingham. Cartoons Magazine, October 1917 reported their skyscraper wedding. Cartoons Magazine, February 1918, also noted Pim’s marriage.

Who Was Who said Pim was with the Cleveland Plain Dealer from 1917 to 1918. While in Cleveland, he took the life class of John Huntington at Polytechnic Institute.

On September 12, 1918, Pim signed his World War I draft card which had his address as 130 North 73 Street, Birmingham, Alabama. He was an artist with the Birmingham News and described as medium height and build with gray eyes and brown hair. Pim moved from the News to the Birmingham Ledger from 1919 to 1920.

In the 1920 census, cartoonist Pim and his wife made their home at 4303 Avenue E in Birmingham. Who Was Who said Pim was an art instructor at Birmingham-Southern College from 1922 to 1931. (The Gold and Black, November 9, 1922, reported Pim’s appointment to the faculty.)

During the 1920s and 1930s, American Newspaper Comics (2012) said Pim produced Baby MineMasterpieces of Great Literature, Telling Tommy, and Next!

The 1930 census recorded Pim in Birmingham at 4300 9th Court. In 1939, Pim wrote Telling Tommy About Mother Nature’s Curious Children, the first of seven Telling Tommy books: Telling Tommy About Famous People in Their Youth (1940); Telling Tommy About Days We Celebrate (1941); Telling Tommy about Famous Inventors (1942); Telling Tommy About Our Good Neighbors (1943); Telling Tommy about Things We Use (1946); and Telling Tommy About Pilgrims Progress (1957).

According to the 1940 census, self-employed artist and writer Pim was a Birmingham homeowner at 4300 10th Avenue.

Pim passed away July 26, 1950, in Birmingham. Many newspapers published the Associated Press obituary. Pim was laid to rest in Forest Hill Cemetery.

Further Reading
310 Pythian Place
Telling Tommy About – W. Paul Pim

—Alex Jay


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Wednesday, November 30, 2016


Obscurity of the Day: Next!

Some cartooning fans are fascinated by the question of who is the worst (successful) newspaper cartoonist of all time. I think a pretty solid nomination for that title should belong to William Paul Pim. He is a patently awful cartoonist (the samples above should be all the proof you need), yet he worked at several major newspapers, and sold two successful long-running features to major syndicates. What his employers saw in him I can't imagine, and why newspapers bought and ran his syndicated offering is a mystery, too. More power to you, though, Mr. Pim, you are the living embodiment of the Peter Principle.

Today's obscurity, a panel Pim produced for a short while titled Next!, is a mystery of several different sorts. The drawing is, of course, awful, but it is the gags that fascinate me. Many of Next's gags go right over my head and would be right at home on the Comics I Don't Understand blog. Or do the gags just not make much sense, and it's not me? Geez, I dunno. I get the main gags in the bottom two, but every one of those "Put 'Em Next" lines may as well be written in Sanskrit for all I get out of 'em. A lot of it is obviously intended to be wordplay, but it's utterly opaque to me.

Next! was a regular feature of World Color Printing's weekly black and white page from at least 1926 through 1933. I see lots of panels repeating over those years, so Pim apparently didn't actually create all that many of these, and WCP just recycled and re-recycled.

It is my guess that Next! does not originate on those WCP weekly pages, though. My guess is that they were produced for some other syndicate or newspaper earlier on, and re-sold to WCP. I have no documentary proof of that, but it's just my Spidey Sense tingling. Does anyone know if they actually originated elsewhere?


Okay, I can figure out the last two jokes, though they're not especially funny. The others baffle me. Is the one with the policeman a Prohibition gag (cop thinks the boxes are full of hooch)? The "Put 'em next" blocks are simple puns, unrelated to the main gag. But what the heck does "Put 'em next" mean anyway?
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Tuesday, November 29, 2016


Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Russ Westover

Russell “Russ” Channing Westover was born in Los Angeles, California, on August 3, 1886, according to his World War I and II draft cards. (Currently, the birth and death dates at Wikipedia are incorrect.) The American National Biography Online said Westover’s parents were Canadian-born Channing Clisson Westover, a haberdasher, and California native Alice Aldrich. 
RootsWeb said the couple married July 5, 1894 but the year is incorrect, most likely a typo, and probably occurred in 1884.

The 1895 Oakland city directory said Channing Westover, of C. Westover & Co., resided at 664 18th. Westover’s father passed away December 10, 1895 as noted in the San Francisco Call, December 12. 
Westover—In Oakland, December 10, 1855 [sic], Channing Westover, a native of Vermont [sic], aged 44 years 6 months and 17 days.
Westover, his mother and siblings were named in the December 25, 1895 edition of the Call which reported the will.

The 1900 U.S. Federal Census recorded the Westovers in Oakland at 568 Twelfth Street. The Canton Repository (Ohio), July 29, 1928, said Westover attended the public schools of Oakland then studied art, for five months, at the Mark Hopkins Art Institute of the University of California. In 1904 Westover was a sports artist at the San Francisco Bulletin. He went on to work for the Oakland Herald and other San Francisco papers, including the Chronicle, and the Post

The 1906 Oakland directory listed Westover, an artist, and his mother at 940 Chestnut.

According to American Newspaper Comics (2012), when Bud Fisher left the Chronicle, Westover continued Fisher’s strip A. Mutt from December 11, 1907 to June 7, 1908. Westover’s next Chronicle comics were Jonathan Nofan, from June 10 to 14, 1908 and Sporting Celebrities When They Grow Old, from August 20 to October 5, 1908.

The California, Marriage Records at said Westover married Genesta G. De Lancey on August 2, 1908. The 1909 Oakland directory said the couple resided at 881 38th. In the 1910 census, their address was 877 Milton Street in Oakland. The same address for Westover appeared in directories from 1911 to 1914. American National Biography Onlline said Westover moved to New York City in 1913.

For the New York Herald, Westover produced Fat Chance (1914), Snapshot Bill (1914–1918) and Looie and His Tin Lizzie (1917–1918). Westover drew Romantic Raymond (1919–1920) for the New York Evening Telegram, and The Demon Demonstrator (1920–1921) for Press Publishing.

When Westover signed his World War I draft card on June 5, 1917, he resided in Harrington Park, New Jersey, and was a New York Herald cartoonist. The description said Westover was of medium height and build with blue eyes and dark brown hair.

Westover’s most successful strip was Tillie the Toiler which he drew for the King Features Syndicate from January 3, 1921 to October 2, 1952. It was continued by Bob Gustafson. The Sunday page had the toppers Kitty-Change-Her-Mind, The Counter Kids, The Van Swaggers, and Tillie the Toiler’s Fashion Parade. Tillie appeared in comic books and was adapted for film. The Advocate (Stamford, Connecticut), January 13, 2004, published an obituary for Martin Sheridan and said: “…In 1936, he worked as assistant to Russ Westover, who drew the Tillie the Toiler comic strip. That experience led to Mr. Sheridan’s first book in 1942, ‘Comics and Their Creators.’ ”

Gloria Swanson and Westover

Greenwich, Connecticut was Westover’s home, on Sound Beach Avenue, in the 1920 census. The cartoonist had two sons, Russell and Alden. In the 1930 census Westover’s new home was in New Rochelle, New York at 168 Wellington Avenue. This address was recorded in the 1940 census and on his World War II draft card.

On March 16, 1960, Westover returned to Los Angeles from a trip to London. His address was 215 Seaview, San Rafael, California.

Westover passed away March 5, 1966, in San Rafael. He was laid to rest at Mountain View Cemetery

—Alex Jay


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Monday, November 28, 2016


Obscurity of the Day: The Demon Demonstrator

Here's a real one-note strip from the pen of Russ Westover, The Demon Demonstrator. Funny enough but awfully repetitive. Salesman shows off his wares, demo backfires. What really saved the strip was Westover's snappy dialogue, which livened up the proceedings quite a bit and kept New York World readers from getting bored with the same old, same old.

The strip ran on an inside page of the Sunday funnies section  in quarter-page format from June 13 1920 to February 6 1921. It was right at this time that Westover jumped ship to the Hearst camp and introduced his new daily, Tillie the Toiler, which would prove so popular that a Sunday would be added the next year.


I'm sure it's some forgotten joke from 100 years ago, but why does the woman in the first strip keep saying "bane"?
Hi Brad --
She's an immigrant -- probably Dutch, Norwegian or some such -- and (according to the humorists of the time) they say 'bane' a lot in place of 'have','are', or 'am'. So for instance "I bane going to the market" is either "I am going to the market" or "I have been to the market".

In the 50s, reading and hearing old old jokes, I got the impression that "bane" was somehow derived from Scandinavian languages, mostly Swedish. If we looked into it, I bet we'd find bane as a verb form in Swedish.
"Bane" was how Scandinavians pronounced "been" in old dialect comedies, along with pronouncing j's as y's.
True fact: Wallace Beery played "Swede", a stereotypical Swedish domestic, in silent comedies.
Definitely Swedish. The Swede, though not so apparent today, was once a large segment of the immigrants to our shores, and, like any incoming nationality, was caricatured into the into the popular culture venues like movies, comic strips (remember "Yens Yensen, Yanitor" or "Phyllis"?) and vaudeville. The dialect was well established long before talkies, though by then the Swedish wave of immigrants had died down. Philadelphian El Brendel made a career out of playing the dumb Swede with that dialect. Beery's early comedy character in drag was named "Sweedie", a rather imposing scrub woman/laundry worker/kitchen help, sort of like a real life Powerful Katrinka.
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Saturday, November 26, 2016


Herriman Saturday

December 21 1908 -- Another Christmas cartoon by Herriman, this one featuring a very early appearance by a Cabbage Patch Kid.


Also looks like an early appearance of Krazy Kat.
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Friday, November 25, 2016


Wish You Were Here, from R.F. Outcault

Here's another example of those postcards that were given away by Hearst. This one, which says "Compliments of the Boston Sunday American" on the reverse, was issued in 1906. As was usual with these cards, the cardboard is of quite low quality. However, the iconic image of Buster, Mary Jane and Tige is nonetheless enchanting.

I also like that the postcard user so cleverly used the text of the card as part of their message. Nicely done Hattie!


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Thursday, November 24, 2016


Ink-Slinger profiles by Alex Jay: Ed Payne

Edward Franklin “Ed” Payne was born in Woodstock, Vermont, in May 1870. The birth date is from the 1900 U.S. Federal Census. Payne’s birthplace was mentioned, by the Associated Press, in the Boston Sunday Advertiser, January 9, 1955. However, Payne’s marriage certificate named Bridgewater as his birthplace. Bridgewater and Woodstock are neighboring towns. His parents were Frank Sylvester Payne and Isabella A. Richmond.

The 1880 census recorded Payne as the oldest of three brothers. Their father’s occupation was harness making. The family of five resided in Hartford, Vermont.

So far, the earliest mention of Payne’s artistic talent was in the Spirit of the Age (Woodstock, Vermont), October 1, 1884, which noted Payne’s participation in the Windsor County Fair: “…E.F. Payne, pencil drawings, 50….”

The Sunday Advertiser said Payne was self-taught and “left school at 15 and became a crayon portrait retoucher, working at night on his hobby—pen and ink humorous drawings. After art study in New York, he joined a Boston portrait firm and later worked for 25 years as an artist, writer and ‘idea man’ at Forbes Lithograph Co.”

The Boston Herald (Massachusetts), September 11, 1894, noted Payne’s marriage: “Payne-Chatwin—At Somerville, Sept. 8, by Rev. George W. Durell, Edward Franklin Payne and Mae Eugenie Chatwin.”

Payne’s latest achievement was reported in Spirit of the Age, April 20, 1895; “Two full-page drawings by Edward Payne, whose work is attracting much favorable attention in the art world, have recently appeared in the Boston Sunday Journal. The illustrations are very well executed and deserve the praise which the Journal bestows on his work.”

American Newspaper Comics (2012) said Payne produced Billy the Boy Artist from November 5, 1899 to March 6, 1955. The Sunday Advertiser said Payne “created ‘Billy’ at the request of James Morgan, Sunday editor of the Boston Globe, when the newspaper started a Sunday comic supplement. The association continued for 56 years.” Payne created six more series for the Globe; a seventh series resembled Payne’s style but was signed Rube Franklin, possibly a pseudonym.

The WPA Guide to Vermont: The Green Mountain State (2013) said Payne had a summer home in West Woodstock. Spirit of the Age, August 6, 1910, said the house was known as Riverest.

According to the 1900 census, Payne, his wife and son lived with his in-laws in Cambridge, Massachusetts at 98 Hampshire Street. Payne was an artist who painted. Also in the household was Payne’s younger brother, George F. Payne, a student, who later drew Polly the Cap’n’s Parrot.

Payne made his home in Belmont, Massachusetts, at 10 Myrtle Street, as recorded in the 1910 census. His household included his wife, two sons, brother George and a servant. Payne was an artist for a lithographer.

The Herald, June 16, 1911, said Payne exhibited originals of Billy the Boy Artist in the magazine and newspaper artists exhibition which included work by N.C. Wyeth and Frank E. Schoonover,. The exhibition was at the new gallery of the Jordan Marsh Company’s new building.

Payne’s address was unchanged in the 1920 census. His brother George was not in the household.

Payne and his wife were in his oldest son’s household in the 1930 census. Karl was married to Ann and they had a daughter and son. They resided in Arlington, Massachusetts, at 39A Hayes Street.

The Herald, May 15, 1931, reported the passing of Payne’s wife.

Funeral services for Mrs. Edward F. Payne, who had made her home at the Hotel Bellevue, were held at the home of her son, Karl C. Payne, 49, Lincoln street, Belmont, yesterday. The Rev. Elmer E. Owens officiated. Many attended from the Dickens Fellowship, of which her husband is president, and the Boston Globe, where Mr. Payne is a member of the art department. The body was taken to Woodstock, Vt., for burial.
In the 1940 census, Payne lived alone at 82 Chestnut Street, Boston.

The Boston American, January 8, 1955, said Payne “was an authority on Charles Dickens and for 30 years was president of the Boston branch of the Dickens Fellowship.”

Payne passed away January 7, 1955, at Copley Hospital, Back Bay, Boston, according to the Sunday Advertiser. He was survived by his brother, George F. of Worcester, and two sons, Karl of California and Edward Jr., of Galesburg, Ill. Payne was laid to rest at Riverside Cemetery.

—Alex Jay


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Wednesday, November 23, 2016


Ink-Slinger profiles by Alex Jay: George F. Payne

George Forrest Payne was born in Woodstock, Vermont, on April 1, 1878, according to the Vermont Vital Records at However, Payne’s World War I draft card had the day as the 22nd. His parents were Frank Sylvester Payne and Isabella A. Richmond.

The 1880 U.S. Federal Census recorded Payne as the youngest of three brothers. Their father’s occupation was harness making. The family of five resided in Hartford, Vermont.

So far, the earliest mention of Payne’s artistic talent was in the Spirit of the Age (Woodstock, Vermont), June 20, 1896. At the high school commencement, Payne, class of 1897, responded to the class of 1896: “…During his response to the address to undergraduates, in a humorous prophecy, Mr. Payne presented to each member of the class a pen sketch, executed by himself, of what he said they were to become.”

According to the 1900 census, Payne was a student. His older brother, cartoonist Ed Payne, was married and had a son. The quartet were in the household of William Chatwin, Ed’s father-in-law, in Cambridge, Massachusetts at 98 Hampshire Street.

Two months after the census enumeration, Spirit of the Age, August 18, 1900, reported the act by Payne and brother Harold.

George F. Payne, son of Mr. and Mrs. F. S. Payne, who was at home last week, with his brother Harold appeared at Keith’s Boston theatre Monday evening and according to the newspapers they made a decided hit with their “poster songs.” This is an amusing novelty originated by the brothers in which a number of large pictures, drawn by Edward F. Payne, another brother, are shown, illustrating popular songs of the day. While a verse of a song is sung by the brothers the picture illustrating it is shown behind a big frame. During the acts George also makes one or two large pictures, using an air brush, while Harold sings, and it closes with a medley during which the pictures are moved rapidly across the stage. The brothers were immediately engaged by the management at Keith’s on seeing a rehearsal of their piece and they will play at all the Keith houses. They then expect to do the entire vaudeville circuit, playing at several places in New York and then going west. Their friends here will be pleased to hear of their success.

The Boston Herald says:
“A real novelty was shown in the “poster songs” of the Payne brothers, a couple of very good singers, whose unique method of illustrating popular songs caught the fancy of the audience, and scored a solid success.

The Journal’s dramatic notes speaks of the “Payne brothers, whose ‘poster songs’ were really the most unique offering on the program, and is a welcome addition to variety.”

The Post says:
“Payne brothers offered a novelty in the form of ‘poster songs’ that was decidedly unique in its way, and scored solidly.”
American Newspaper Comics (2012) said Payne drew Polly The Cap’n’s Parrot, from March 29 to May 24, 1908, for the North American Syndicate. In yesterday’s post, comics authority Cole Johnson noted that the Polly The Cap’n’s Parrot art resembled Ed Payne’s work. Since Payne was living with his brother Ed, it’s safe to say that Payne mimicked Ed’s style.

Payne made his home in Belmont, Massachusetts, at 10 Myrtle Street, as recorded in the 1910 census. He was in the household of his brother Ed. Payne was employed as a floor walker at a department store.

On September 12, 1918 Payne signed his World War I draft card. He was married to Marguerite and their address was 17 Sudbury Street, Worcester, Massachusetts. Payne was a buyer for Denholm & McKay Company in Worcester. The description of Payne was medium height and build with dark blue eyes and dark brown hair. Payne signed his full name with just one R in his middle name, Forest not Forrest.

Payne’s address and occupation were unchanged in the 1920 census. According to the 1930 census, Payne continued as a dry goods store buyer who resided in Worcester. His address was 64 Fruit Street. In the 1940 census, Payne and his wife lived at 5 Dayton Place, Worcester. The same address was on Payne’s World War II draft card and he still worked for Denholm & McKay.

Payne’s wife Marguerite passed away in 1947. Payne’s brother Ed passed away January 7, 1955 in Boston. The Boston Sunday Advertiser obituary said Ed was survived by his brother George, who resided in Worcester, and two sons.

The date of Payne’s passing is unclear. Find a Grave has a photograph of a grave marker with the years 1878 to 1955. However, the Social Security Death Index has a person named George Payne who was born April 22, 1878 (same date as the World War I draft card) and died in February 1984. An obituary has not been found.

—Alex Jay


Good work finding that Payne had an equally mediocre brother. My brother Cole was usually right when detecting mystery artist's styles. He would also be impressed that Polly is still important enough to be researching, and that he's still currently contributing materially and intellectually to the Guide.
"Since Payne was living with his brother Ed, it’s safe to say that Payne mimicked Ed’s style."

It MAY also be safe to say that Ed did some major art assisting for his not-quite-as-talented brother George. So maybe the Ed Payne art seen by Cole actually was Ed art.

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Tuesday, November 22, 2016


Obscurity of the Day Revisited: Polly, The Cap'n's Parrot

We covered the obscure Philadelphia North American strip Polly The Cap'n's Parrot way back in 2006, when I was a mere 40-something lad and the Earth was still cooling. Awhile after that, my favorite know-it-all, Cole Johnson, pointed out to me that the art on this feature is rather obvious by Ed Payne (he of Billy the Boy Artist fame). As soon as he said that, I could see that he must be right -- those sure are Ed Payne faces alright. So here we are again, forced to read another installment of this awful strip so I can tell you that the signatory on this feature, George F. Payne, is in reality a moonlighting Ed Payne.

... Or is it?  Could Cole be wrong? Stay tuned to this channel, folks. Next Alex Jay will weigh in with circumstantial evidence about this Payne-ful case that would make Perry Mason ask for a mistrial!


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Monday, November 21, 2016


Obscurity of the Day: The Ready Money Ladies

When George McManus first arrived at the New York World, among his earliest efforts was a short-lived series titled The Ready Money Ladies. The concept was as thin as they come: a pair of fashionable and very well-bred ladies compete for the honor of paying for something. It's basically the same idea as Opper's Alphonse and Gaston strip, except it's women, and the subject is always money. The fun comes in as McManus shows us life all around them on hold while the ladies ever so primly debate. He shows us his mastery of both madcap slapstick material and more subtle conceptual humor. This series, which ran from January 3 to March 6 1904 let New Yorkers know that the World had a new cartooning star-in-the-making.

Thanks to Cole Johnson for the samples.


My take on the Ready Money Ladies were a knock off on Carr's Lady Bountiful. If one gullible heiress is funny, the fun will increase exponentially with the ascending number of millionairesses. Also, wasn't this McManus's first Pulitzer and in fact, nationally syndicated work?
Hi Mark --
It's actually tied with "Helpful Hints for Happy Homes" as his first. They both started on January 3.

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Saturday, November 19, 2016


Herriman Saturday

December 21 1908 -- Britain may be calling boxer Freddie Welsh back home, but they're going to have to wait more than half a year yet. Freddie Welsh is about to embark on a tour of the eastern U.S. looking for good fights in his weight class.


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Friday, November 18, 2016


Wish You Were Here, from R.F. Outcault

Here's a 1905 postcard by R.F. Outcault, in which a monkey and a parrot have a heck (yes, I came right out and said it!) of a time. It is copyrighted by the J. Ottmann Litho Co. of New York on the front, and the undivided back has no further information.

Gosh, I wish I could figure out what that word is in the note -- "Say they are pretty ???? yes just like yours truly." I feel like I'm missing a vital piece of data here.


What I am seeing is:

Yes I guess they did
have a - of a time
the same as we have
had for some time
but I guess the one
difference they drew
blood and we didn't
though (?) the tussle
Say they are pretty ain't
they, yes just like
yours truly
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Thursday, November 17, 2016


Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Dave Quinn

Harold David “Dave” Quinn was born in Toledo, Ohio on October 2, 1926, according to the Social Security Death Index. In the 1930 U.S. Federal Census he was the fourth of six children born to Robert and Lovie. His father was a laborer. The family lived in Toledo at 227 Oakdale Avenue.

The 1940 census recorded the family of ten in Toledo at 1025 Ironwood Avenue. His father worked at an auto parts factory. On November 19, 1942 his mother passed away. Regarding Quinn’s education, The Blade (Toledo, Ohio), August 1, 2001, said: 

He attended Waite High School for three years and finished his senior year at Scott High School…[and] 1944.
Mr. Quinn played…on his high school football teams, earning an athletic scholarship to Wilberforce University. He attended…college briefly and then was drafted in the U.S. Army Air Corps. He was a gunner on a bomber in the Pacific Theater.
After the war, he returned to Toledo and attended the former Laingor Commercial Art Studio & School in downtown Toledo, graduating in the late 1940s.
According to the U.S. Veterans Gravesites, ca. 1775-2006 record at, he had the rank of corporal. The Catalog of Copyright Entries, Third Series, Volume 2, Part 1B, Number 1, Pamphlets, Serials and Contributions to Periodicals, January–June 1948 had this entry:
Swing Papa [Comic strip by] Dave Quinn [and] Owen Dell Shaw [pseudo.] (In The Toledo Sepia City Press) © Story Script Syndicate. © 3Apr48; B5-5591.
In her paper, "Swing Papa and Barry Jordan: Comic Strips and Black Newspapers in Postwar Toledo", Angela M. Nelson wrote:
Swing Papa was featured in the Toledo Sepia City Press, a black independent newspaper, and was syndicated with the Story Script Syndicate….Swing Papa appeared in consecutive issues of the newspaper from April 2, 1948 to August 7, 1948. The creators of Swing Papa were Harold Quinn, a Toledo World War II veteran, and O'Wendell Shaw, former editor of the Ohio State News and current editor of the Toledo Sepia City Press.
…In the short span of the Swing Papa series, bandleader-hero Bret Harvey travels by train and taxi cab through the streets of Toledo, his main romantic interest is Marta Grayfield, and he is opposed by two robbers who serve as adversaries and assisted by police who act as his allies. Swing Papa includes elements of adventure much like Steve Canyon but somewhat downplayed because of the romance formula also used.
Quinn married Ottabee in 1949. His father passed away on December 5, 1961, in Toledo. His marriage ended in divorce in December 1970. The Blade said:
Quinn worked at the former Ace Sign Co. for 20 years. He was vice president and co-owner of the former Creative Arts and Signs, which specialized in signs, art, and truck lettering. He owned his own business—Dave Quinn and Associates—during the 1970s.
...He retired [in] the 1980s, his brother, Lawrence Quinn, who is a draftsman, said.
Quinn passed away on July 29, 2001, in Toledo, where he was buried at the Historic Woodlawn Cemetery, according to the U.S. Veterans Gravesites at

—Alex Jay


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Wednesday, November 16, 2016


Obscurity of the Day: Practical Lessons in Drawing

In 1909, the World Color Printing Sunday comic section seemed to experience the defection of many long-time contributors, leaving the company occasionally scrambling for content. Surely otherwise they would not have accepted a new feature they added to the back page titled Practical Lessons in Drawing. The quarter-page feature was written by an uncredited but certainly self-important author who seemed oblivious that he was writing for a Sunday comics section, rather than a college-level academic drawing course. The result was both dry as dust and close to useless as an introduction to drawing. The author loved to expound on what I'll call the algebraic aspect of drawing -- a deer's head is exactly so many times the length of it's body, and the head is exactly so many eyes high, and the horns on its head are exactly so many times the length of a flea on its back, etc, ad absurdum. It surely made the author feel rather chuffed, but I can't imagine too many kiddies opening the WCP Sunday funnies and getting excited to learn the intricacies of drawing a Hindu Water Carrier (believe it or not, that really was a lesson).

Most lessons ended by admonishing the kiddies in no uncertain terms to learn the lessons in order or be left with a woefully bad education. Apparently it is very important, I gather, to become expert in drawing, say, a brown bear before one tries to draw a dog. We may shudder to think of the consequences if the kids did not follow this important rule. The author helpfully told his class that if they had missed a lesson that they should run down to their local newspaper's office, where the editor would be delighted to hand out missing drawing lessons from old editions of the paper.

The feature began on October 3 1909 and ended, after missing a couple weeks near the end, on March 13 1910. Apparently the author didn't realize his course was coming to its end, because the final installment tells students to look for another installment next week. WCP had other ideas, though, and dropped the feature in favor of a quarter page of puzzles and games.

Art for the feature was mostly supplied by D.C. Bartholomew, who exhibited an unexpectedly fine ability to do straight illustration. He was spelled a few times by others, on November 14 1908 by T. Benjamin Faucett, and on November 7 and 21 by someone who signed themselves only "W".


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Tuesday, November 15, 2016


Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Elmer Woggon

Elmer Frank Woggon was born in Toledo, Ohio, on November 4, 1898, according to his National Cartoonists Society (NCS) profile. His World War I draft card had the full name. A family tree at said his German-born parents were William Henry Woggon (1838–1930) and Edith Maria Mathilda Schields (1876–1953).

The 1900 U.S. Federal Census recorded Woggon and his parents in Toledo at 51 Jervis Street. His father was a baker. Ten years later, the Woggon family had added two girls and the house number was 55 on Jervis Street.

A 1915 city directory listed Woggon as a student at 55 Jervis Street. The Toledo Blade, April 10, 1978, said Woggon graduated from Newton Elementary School.

According to a 1916 directory, Woggon was a clerk in his father’s bakery. The next year, Woggon worked at Milner’s as a clerk. Woggon was a Multigraph operator in the 1918 directory. Woggon signed his World War I draft card on September 12, 1918 and continued to live at home. He was a multigrapher at L.A. Miller-Willys Overland. Woggon was described as tall and slender with gray eyes and light hair.

Woggon’s NCS profile said he was a student of the Landon and Federal art programs. Woggon was featured twice, in 1919 and 1921, in Federal School advertisements published in Cartoons Magazine.

The Blade said Woggon joined its newspaper’s staff “in 1918, working in the editorial department and later in the advertising department.”

In the 1920 census, newspaper cartoonist Woggon was the oldest of six siblings.

The 1923 city directory listed Woggon and his wife Wanda at 55 Jervis Street. Their address in 1924 was 1602 Wellesley Drive and was unchanged in the 1930 and 1940 censuses.

American Newspaper Comics (2012) said Woggon drew and Eddie Stinson wrote Skylark, which ran from October 8, 1928 into 1929. Woggon collaborated with writer Allen Saunders to create Big Chief Wahoo which was originally titled The Great Gusto. Woggon’s tenure began November 23, 1936 and ended July 10, 1954. Ghost artists included his brother Bill Woggon, Don Dean, Pete Hoffman, and Wayne Boring (per Alberto Becattini). Other artists continued the series. W.C. Fields was a fan of the strip according to Parody as Film Genre: “Never Give a Saga an Even Break” (1999). Field’s film, My Little Chickadee (1940), featured an Indian sidekick. A Big Chief Wahoo topper, Indian Slango, is here.

The Blade, February 23, 1942, reported the home invasion at Woggon’s new home, 1650 North Cove Boulevard.

Woggon remarried to Helen E. Walrath according to the Blade, March 23, 1946.

All of Woggon’s brother were Blade artists. Bill was the artist of the Katy Keene character.  John worked in the advertising art department. And Glenn was with the art department.

The Blade said Woggon moved to Fort Lauderdale, Florida in 1950. Woggon passed away April 9, 1978, at his home in Fort Lauderdale. His death was reported the following day in the 

—Alex Jay


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Monday, November 14, 2016


Toppers: Indian Slango

 When the new feature Big Chief Wahoo was introduced in 1936, it's slapstick shenanigans were light-years away from what it would untimately become -- the hard-boiled adventure strip Steve Roper and Mike Nomad. It featured a W.C. Fields rip-off character, The Great Gusto (who was originally meant to be the star of the strip), a wacky Indian, Big Chief Wahoo, who embodies just about the ultimate in bad stereotyping of Native Americans, a kid tag-a-long, and soon enough, the beauteous Minnie Ha-Cha, an Indian princess.

The broad humor written by Allen Saunders and the simple art supplied by Elmer Woggon, seem not likely to have become a big hit, but somehow it did. And when the strip began to falter a bit, Saunders wasted little time in rejiggering it for whatever genre he fancied would keep the strip in papers. Thus did the strip become not only enduringly popular, but a great subject for trivia quizzes.

The topper panel Indian Slango, which was usually just a little text box as seen above, is barely a footnote to the complicated history of this comic strip. The panel featured Chief Wahoo's colorful terms for everyday things. As a commentary on Indian names, it was disrespectful I suppose, but Saunders actually came up with some pretty darn colorful and whimsical little zingers, as seen in the sample above. Unfortunately, Indian Slango was mostly made up from reader submissions, and you sure could tell why Allen Saunders got paid, while his readers didn't.

Indian Slango debuted with the Sunday page on January 10 1937. Eventually it would share space with several other panel features, one of which, Big Chief Wahoo's Dizzy Dictionary, sounds identical but was actually a rebus feature. Indian Slango was the last of these panels to appear on the Sunday page, on April 28 1940.


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Saturday, November 12, 2016


Herriman Saturday

December 20 1908 -- With Jack Johnson set to defend his heavyweight championship against Tommy Burns on the 26th, Herriman favors us with portraits of both along with his thoughts on their looks. Amazingly, Johnson is described favorably, not in the typical racist venom of the day.


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Friday, November 11, 2016


Wish You Were Here, from Dwig

Here's a Dwig postcard from 1909, copyrighted by R. Kaplan and marked Serie No. 55 on the reverse. This is a very fancy card with gold ink and embossing. It sports a nice clever gag and a gal showing an absolutely scandalous amount of leg for 1909. Our gypsy girl is also showing acres of bare skin up top making me wonder if she has anything on behind that sandwich board.

There was a whole series of Fortune Teller cards by Dwig, and they all show gypsy girls dressed awfully racy for the period. This gal I think takes the prize for most bare skin though. I find it hard to believe these were on display at the local five and dime.


Maybe they weren't sold at the family-friendly five and dime, but at cigar stores or other "stag" establishments. Just a guess.
And the rhyme indicates it was meant to be given to a lass!
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Thursday, November 10, 2016


Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: C.W. Kahles

Charles William Kahles was born in Lengfurt, Germany, on January 12, 1878, according to the obituary in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle (New York), January 21, 1931. The same birth date was found on Kahles’s World War I draft card and several passenger lists.

According to Robert C. Harvey, in the American National Biography: Supplement 2  (2005), Kahles, with his mother, sister, and brother, came to the United States in 1883. His father and older brother had established a business and home in Windsor Terrace, Brooklyn.

The Eagle, February 3, 1924, published an article about Kahles’s Hairbreadth Harry and said:

Kahles was born in Germany, coming to Brooklyn when a small boy. He cannot remember when he did not have the urge for a pencil in his fingers. While attending the district school in Windsor Terrace—old Number Three—he took all the prizes in drawing.

“I studied at Pratt Institute and at the Brooklyn Art School for a number of years, where I was a pupil of Joseph H. Boston. Mr. Boston is an artist of national reputation and a good friend of mine. I went to work as sketch artist for the New York Recorder at 16….

“At 20 I was a regular assignment man on the World. I took my work very seriously and had no intention off [sic] becoming a cartoonist. But one day the man who did the regular daily comic was ill and John Tennant wanted a comic in a hurry. There was no one around but me, so he asked me to do it. Then he ordered that I do nothing buy comics thereafter.”

Kahles created “Clarence the Cop” for the World after Tennant was transferred to the Sunday department. Clarence ran for 10 years, being a contemporary of the Katzenjammer Kids and Happy Hooligan.
The 1892 New York state census recorded the Kahles family in Flatbush, Brooklyn. Kahles was the third of four children born to Peter and Elizabeth.

An 1895 Williamsport, Pennsylvania city directory listed Kahles at 321 Mulberry and his occupation as an artist for Grit. Harvey said Kahles found work at William Randolph Hearst’s New York Journal.

In the 1900 U.S. Federal Census, Kahles’s widow mother was the head of the household. The family of five resided in Brooklyn at 464 13th Street; the same address in the 1910 census. Kahles’s occupation was newspaper artist. Older brother Joseph worked for a paper company, and younger brother Frederick was a silverware designer.

American Newspaper Comics (2012) said Kahles created over thirty comic series including Butch the BullyDr. Hardup, Foolish Fred, The Little Red School-House, Optimistic OswaldThe Merry Nobles Three—They Never Can Agree, Pretending Percy, and The Yarns of Captain Fibb. Hairbreadth Harry was Kahles’s best-known and longest running strip which began October 21 1906. After Kahles’s death the strip was continued by F.O. Alexander on March 30, 1931.

The New York, New York, Marriage Index, at, said Kahles married Julia E. Phelps on June 1910 in Manhattan. The Eagle, April 11, 1913, reported Kahles’s divorce.

According to the 1915 New York state census, cartoonist Kahles lived with his mother and sister, Margaret, who was the head of the household. Their home was at 901 St. John’s Place in Brooklyn.

Kahles married Helen H. Sturtevant on June 4, 1918 in Manhattan. A few months later Kahles signed his World War I draft card on September 12, 1918. He resided in Brooklyn at 1353 Union Street. He was described as medium height and build with brown eyes and hair.

Kahles’s home in the 1920 census was in Queens, New York at 9312 Kelsey Avenue, Queens Village. He had an eight-year-old daughter named Jessie from his first marriage. (Jessie had a letter published in Life, April 21, 1952.)

On September 20, 1924, the family returned from a trip to Europe, sailing from Antwerp, Belgium to New York City. The passenger list said their home address was 9312 219th Street, Queens, New York. The same address plus Queens Village was in the 1925 New York state census. The Kahles family made their second visit to Europe in 1926. A September 1929 passenger list recorded their third European trip and home address, 98 Myrtle Drive, Great Neck, Long Island, New York.

Kahles’s address was unchanged in the 1930 census. Eight months later, Kahles passed away January 21, 1931, at his home in Great Neck. His death was reported that day in the Eagle. Kahles was laid to rest at Green-Wood Cemetery, lot 31394, section 468, grave 271.

The Eagle, January 22, 1931, said: 

A note of sadness introduced itself in this connection, yesterday, when the death of Charles W. Kahles, noted artist, at Great Neck, L. I., became known. Although ill at home for nearly three weeks, he had tentatively accepted the invitation of Charles R. Macauley, the Eagle’s editorial cartoonist, to assist in the consultation game with Capablanca. As chess had long been his hobby, he was looking forward with real pleasure to the forthcoming battle of wits.

His advice will be missed, for, as a member of the Brooklyn Chess Club until a year ago, he had had plenty of club experience and was a foeman to be feared. According to R. M. Varnum, secretary of the Brooklyn Chess Club, Mr. Kahles, although loath to do it, had resigned his membership last year. He found the journey between the club and his Long Island home too much of a strain. Some 15 years ago, it is recalled by members, he suffered from heart trouble, from which by the exercise of care, he recovered.

On the walls of he Brooklyn Chess Club are several of Mr. Kahles’s comic cartoons dealing with chess. When at the board he, as a good player, took his chess seriously, but, naturally, he was only too well aware of its humorous side.
The terms of Kahles’s will was published in the Eagle, February 6, 1931.

—Alex Jay


Cole and I knew Kahles's daughter Jessie. She was a tireless advocate for her father's legacy. She was also humorless, impatient and probably made more enemies than friends over the years. Nevertheless, we tried our best to get people to care about him, and not that he was unworthy of interest. Hairbreadth Harry was truly a watershed strip, and Kahles's other early strips with Sci-Fi themes are important too. But alas, everything he ever did was for syndicates that shriveled up too long ago for them to do any work promoting them into an anywhere modern era.
Anyway, she gave us a ton of his books and family papers/ photos, some artwork, including an original of Clarence the Cop, and the Trade Mark to Hairbreadth Harry. It expired a long time ago, nobody knew who it was. Anyway, we had a gallery show of Harry and a banquet for her in Philly in 1987, among the guests being F.O. Alexander, who succeeded Kahles on the feature.
Kahles (pronounced Kaw-Less) was apparently a very unhappy man, Jessie said his wife never had anything but contempt for him, and he holed up in his studio for days at a time, listening to his Classical records and devoting himself completely to Harry and co. hour after hour. He was also a slight, perhaps sickly man. I have a professional portrait photo of him at his drawing board (drawing the 1 December 1929 Sunday) and he looks gaunt and tired. In 1931 it wasn't iunusual to die at 53, the national average for a man was 59.
the Hairbreadth Harry daily sequence reprinted in nemo magazine from Mark Johnson's collection has long been a favorite and highlight from that great anthology.
the Spencer Research Library at the University of Kansas in Lawrence had a few CW Kahles materials (family letters mostly), but maybe no comics (?) or at least disappointingly few.
The story you reference, which we gave a title to, through time and space", was a good representative of Kahles's writing abilities. He was a real wit and satirist, certainly one of the most literate cartoonists of his time. I believe he was really a genius. I own the only original art from that story, an April 1924 strip featuring Rudolph only.
Hairbreadth Harry is a strip that is worthy of a reprint collection, but nobody would take a chance on such a forgotten title, regardless of quality.
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