Monday, February 27, 2017
Obscurity of the Day: The Boy Scouts Bill and Bobbie
The Boy Scouts of America was an organization just four years old when Merle Johnson gave them a gently humorous poke in The Boy Scouts Bill and Bobbie. The Sunday strip began on November 29 1914 in the New York Press, a second-rate paper run by Frank Munsey. In the Press's short-lived Sunday comics section (Munsey soon decided Sunday comic sections cost too much to produce) this strip was one of the headliners, along with Dorothy and the Killies.
Merle Johnson had pretty much left comic strip work behind by 1914. He had a number of features picked up by Hearst in the 1900s, but this is his only series I know of from later than 1910. Bill and Bobbie was drawn in Johnson's signature naive style, and the simplistic gags actually worked surprisingly well, undoubtedly because they meshed well with the art style. The whole package was quite attractive, and may well have helped to sell a few copies of the New York Press to readers who would have otherwise never even looked at the Munsey rag.
The Boy Scouts Bill and Bobbie ran until May 16 1915, when the whole comic section was cancelled.
Thanks to Cole Johnson, who supplied the scans.