Saturday, September 30, 2017

 

Herriman Saturday


May 12 1909 -- The suffrage movement in Great Britain is at a fever pitch, though it will not be victorious until nearly a decade hence. A notable convert to the cause is Madame Nordica, an opera star, who after talking with suffrage leader Katherine Mackay vowed that she would stop singing and put all her efforts toward the movement. Apparently the fervor wore off, as she continued her singing career until her death in 1914.

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Friday, September 29, 2017

 

Wish You Were Here, from Albert Carmichael


Here's an interesting pair of postcards; the first is from Taylor Pratt & Co.'s Series 569 of 1910, the second is from their Series 571 copyrighted 1911. Somehow I assumed that the monocolor cards were generally produced by lesser manufacturers, but here we have the color card maker also doing the el cheapo gray wash card. Wonder if there was a price difference when purchased off the rack?

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Carmichael could really be hideous. That can't be a foot- legs don't end square in the centre of a flat iron, do they? I suppose they use the one-legged storks just for use in lame gags. The melted monstrosity face on the guy looks like inspiration for Basil Wolverton.
Critiqueing aside, I have seen this cheapo repro arrangement sometimes in my old post card collecting days. My assumption is that the company might indeed make two versions, a half cent for the black and white one, a penny for full color. (Most cards of any type were black and white.) Also, an older design might merit a black and white reissue later. (Notice here that the later version has motion lines added to the hat and cane.)

In the Post Card fad era, there were so many new designs constantly appearing, few were rerun. There didn't seem to be "old standards" or perennials. Guess this one was good enough to do twice, but it's unusual.
 
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Thursday, September 28, 2017

 

King News by Moses Koenigsberg: Chapter 10 Part 2

 

 King News by Moses Koenigsberg

Published by F.A. Stokes Company, 1941

Chapter 10

Biggest Local Story of the Century (part 2)

link to previous installment   link to next installment



No qualification is more important to a city editor than a “nose for news.” It is a unique faculty. It is a mystic cerebration too percussive to be merely intuitive. In print-shop vernacular, it’s “a chronic humor for hunches.” It may induce costly blunders. A trying example of this possibility was given me on the story of the Car Barn Bandits. That was a yarn bristling with more action than any director dare pack into a single movie. Chief of Police O’Neill’s formal report describes “the most desperate band of criminals that ever infested Chicago” and “the most sensational crime with which the department ever grappled.” It was the first time in America that peace officers were opposed with the organized use of automatic firearms.

The initial episode was the murder of Francis W. Stewart, a clerk, and the fatal wounding of two companions in the barns of the City Railway on Chicago’s South Side. That was August 30, 1903. A twelve weeks’ search for the four murderers followed throughout the country. The second act of this serial came in November.

Detectives John Quinn and William Blaul, working out of the Sheffield Avenue Police Station in Northwest Chicago, were assigned to “pick up” Gustave Marx. That young man was spattering himself with suspicion. He had been exhibiting the latest type of revolver to goggle-eyed hangers-on in barrooms. One pull would start a spout of nine slugs. Gustave was only a little prouder of his new weapon than of the big hunk of greenbacks “it had won him.” Late in the evening of November 21st, the officers espied their quarry through the plate-glass window in the saloon at Addison Avenue and North Robey Street.

The Car Barn Bandits
Quinn stepped in through the front door. Marx saw him in the mirror. They had known each other since childhood. A streak of orange fire blazed from Marx’s pistol. The detective fell in a heap. The first shot had pierced his stomach. He died without getting his hand on Marx or on his own gun. Blaul leaped into the saloon through the side entrance just as his dying buddy dropped to the floor. Only providence deprived the killer of a second victim. The pearl-handled automatic was aimed point blank at Blaul’s heart when Marx pressed the trigger. It snapped harmlessly. The mechanism had jammed. In another instant the desperado was felled by two bullets, one in the shoulder and the other in the hip.

Blaul, in berserk rage, jumped on his prostrate foe. He planted one heel on Marx’s throat. At the same instant, he wheeled on the group at the bar. His leveled revolver jerked their arms above their heads. With his left hand, he pulled Marx to his feet. Then, holding his prisoner in front of him as a shield and keeping the barroom crowd covered with the pistol in his right hand, the detective backed into the telephone booth behind him. For the next fifteen minutes, Blaul found himself fully engaged, telephoning for a patrol wagon, relieving Marx of two hidden revolvers and watching for possible confederates of the murderer among the gang between him and the street.

That was too precious a real-life tableau to lose. It must be captured and preserved. Not only must the community be shown what went on in its midst, but posterity should have this sidelight on the generation. Mere words were bungling tools for such an exhibit. The camera alone could serve this historic purpose. Moreover, this was a loud rap from Old Man Opportunity. One of my aims was to excel in a method of illustration that pictorial weeklies revived and exploited thirty-odd years later. It consisted of the episodic narration of a story in photographs. As often as possible, the principals were persuaded to relive the dramatic moments in front of a lens especially manufactured at large expense for such snapshots.

Detective Blaul harkened to the call of the arts. He agreed not only to reenact his share in the gripping melodrama, but also to act as an associate stage manager. Police Inspector Shippy took charge officially. He requisitioned the barroom for the show. In addition, he arranged for as much participation by Marx as the wounded man’s condition would permit. The technical details were assigned to Nathan Meissler, a Chicago American photographer. Meissler occupies a prominent niche in my hall of unwitting heroes. “The right angle for an exposure” lured him to unnumbered risks of life and limb. Once, to deliver his negatives in time for an edition, he clambered across two miles of the broken ice that covered Lake Michigan. Repeatedly submerged, he never lost the oilskin bag containing his plateholders. The rescuing police were with difficulty dissuaded from holding him for a lunacy hearing.

At seven o’clock in the forenoon of November 27th—six days after Marx’s capture—Meissler reached the Sheffield Avenue police station to pick up Shippy and Blaul en route for the great photographic drama. Five minutes later, he telephoned me. “This place has just gone nuts,” he reported. “A patrol wagon filled with cops carrying riot guns is streaking out of here toward the lake. The only guy left is too screwy to talk.” Obviously, the camera classic was off for the day. There was nothing left for Meissler to do except follow the speeding policemen.

Standing beside me was W. S. (Bill) Brons. That always meant something. Brons never wasted a footstep. He was an unabridged answer to a news department’s problems. His title of wire chief insured nearly every other title in the office. Brons whispered: “A dispatcher on the Illinois Central Railroad tips me that a special train is being made up at the city hall’s orders.” This might have any of a half-dozen meanings. It might even signify an unadvertised junket. But Meissler’s report and a ten-line item on the first page of the Tribune’s last edition that morning fused in my mind with Brons’s message. The Tribune paragraph told of several obstreperous hoboes being surrounded and held at bay in a dugout near Miller’s Station, Ind., by Chicago police.

That was the hunch that inflicted such fidgets as should have produced in me a permanent anti-hunch phobia. Every legger on duty was ordered to catch the Illinois Central special train. All the cash the paymaster could scoop together was commandeered. He handed me $900. It was stuffed into the pockets of seventeen reporters scurrying past me on their way out. They would share this with any fellow workers whom we could muster in time to join them. Before the day’s routine had fairly started, the office was stripped of the staff except for two rewrite men and Brons. At the last moment, he was sped in pursuit of the others.

James P. Bicket was my assistant. Ten years later he reached the managing editorship. Highly strung but always levelheaded, he was usually a comforting stand-by. As Brons disappeared through the door Bicket turned to me quizzically. “All our eggs in one basket,” he remarked. His tone was as gloomy as the thought he suggested. What had I done? With no more apparent reasoning than a squirrel needs for tree-climbing and by direction of what remained no more explicable than sheer impulse, our whole news-gathering force had been rushed headlong on what grew every second to look more and more like a wild-goose chase. At the end of a half-hour with not one word from any of them, it was a safe bet that all were either outside the city of Chicago or in a railroad wreck.

Where did that leave me? What could be done if a big local story broke? Still worse, what if the special train was only a mare’s nest? This was possible in a number of ways. It might be a purely technical gesture, like a show of force to establish a legal record. There had been several such demonstration in disputes between the Park Board and the Drainage Canal Trustees. And what if the gang in the dugout turned out no more dangerous than a set of the plaintive squatters that every winter annoyed the railroad company? How and whence would we get the lead for the next edition? Or for the other editions during the rest of the day? It wouldn’t be enjoyable abruptly to make room for the Chicago American’s twenty-eighth city editor. But there would be no other fate for the fool that staked and lost a whole staff on a hunch.

The ticking of a Morse instrument dispelled my jitters. It was a flash from Brons. He was astride the top of a telegraph pole in northern Indiana. He had plugged in on the main line and was sending me the contents of a dispatch he had just transmitted to Chief O’Neill. It was signed by Herman Schuettler, Chicago’s assistant superintendent of police, hero of the Haymarket riot and the most famous peace officer of the Middle West. The telegram asked O’Neill for reenforcements. Schuettler was using Brons as his adjutant. Brons’s story consisted of official messages rephrased.

Seven Chicago policemen, traveling by horse and carriage, had reached Pine, Ind., at two o’clock that morning on a secret detail from Superintendent O’Neill. They were to investigate a tip. It was a message O’Neill had received by wire from Miller’s Station, the nearest telegraph office. A local schoolteacher believed he had recognized among the tramps, in a rough shelter near at hand, some faces resembling photographs of fugitives printed in the Chicago American. Detective Sergeants Michael Zimmer and John Driscoll were in joint charge of the blue-coat detachment. They thought it prudent to lay low until daybreak.

At dawn, the squad moved cautiously toward the dugout. Smoke was curling from a chimney. Somebody coughed. Several streams of flame spurted through the half-open door. Zimmer and Driscoll fell, mortally wounded. The rapidity of this gunfire was unlike anything the attackers had ever heard or seen. They drew back.

It was word of this double tragedy that prompted Superintendent O’Neill to ask the Illinois Central Railroad for facilities with which to dispatch reinforcements. That was the special train on which I had flung our staff. They found Schuettler aboard. With him were fifty patrolmen armed with rifles. O’Neill had enjoined the utmost secrecy. He was wrestling with a question of authority. Already, he had sent two of his men to their death outside the State of Illinois. He wanted someone to back him up. Until he could reach the mayor or the governor, his official actions must be kept in concealment.

Schuettler had not yet crossed the state line into Indiana, when the cornered gunmen made a break from cover. They shot their way through the police cordon. Two of them were recognized as Niedermeyer and Van Dine, confederates of Gustave Marx. It was before taking up the pursuit that Schuettler asked O’Neill for an additional force of riflemen. All this came from Brons in a string of bulletins. From that point, the American’s presses rolled off one extra edition after another, each recording a successive chapter of the remarkable melodrama that continued from dawn to dusk, spreading over twenty towns and villages and swollen every minute by an outpouring of the countryside.

Many stories, more important or more significant, have since passed through my hands, but none so exciting in the manner of its unfolding. It was as if a master dramatist stood by, directing the action moment by moment, scene by scene. As each climax was reached, at hourly intervals, it was told in a fresh edition. A quick review of the sequence is given by the headlines on the seven issues that recounted the yarn from beginning to end:

CHICAGO POLICEMEN SHOT IN BATTLE WITH BANDITS

CAR BARN BANDITS TRAPPED

Niedermeyer and Van Dine in Desperate Battle with Police

NIEDERMEYER AND VAN DINE ESCAPE

BANDITS ESCAPE. KILL BRAKEMAN. SEIZE TRAIN

TWO CAR BARN BANDITS CAPTURED

BANDITS CAUGHT AFTER AWFUL RAIN OF SHOT

ROESKI THIRD BANDIT CAPTURED

Others Confess Car Barn Murders

Their ammunition gone, the bleeding and exhausted desperadoes, shivering with cold, yielded to a crowd of farmers armed with pitchforks. The theatric unities were preserved to the last act. The curtain of darkness fell on the surrender. In the caboose of the train in which the prisoners were taken to Chicago was Charles C. Fitzmorris, one of the brightest reporters it has been my fortune to direct. He was then a mere stripling. Less than three years before, he had won a race around the world arranged by the Hearst newspapers for schoolboys chosen from metropolitan centers. Fitzmorris listened to the bandits’ confessions.

“Great work,” he was told as he turned in the last sheet of his copy.

“Great hunch,” he answered, smiling. “If you hadn’t started us when you did, I wouldn’t have landed my piece.”

Whereupon, as the lad’s mentor, it seemed my duty to discredit any reliance on the occult. “Hunch be damned!” was the answer. “Our tipster service was at bat.” A reputation for pulling assignments out of the air is extremely undesirable. It has licensed many a matinee truancy for skeptical reporters. Moreover, “a nose for news” sounds like a more substantial appurtenance than a susceptibility to hunches.

********

The Car Barn Bandits continued to “crash” the front pages until the Iroquois Theatre fire swept them and everything else into the background. That calamity, in my judgment, was the biggest peace-time story that fell wholly within the scope of local news since the turn of the century. The fatality list of more than 600 has been exceeded and vastly greater property damage has been recorded. But no other event, devoid of extramural involvements, plowed so deep or so wide a furrow through the emotions of a horrified humanity, or left so permanent an impress on the social structure. The character of the victims and the nature of the setting alone lifted it to a place apart from other disasters. The death roll, consisting largely of children, paralleled Chicago’s social register. The occasion—December 30, 1903—was a next-to-New Year’s Eve matinee performance of Bluebeard, Junior.

From the ashes of that holocaust was sifted my first contribution to an international reform. The asbestos, or fire-proof, curtain, required in auditoriums throughout the world, may be traced to a campaign launched in the Chicago American on the day following the Iroquois Theatre catastrophe. It started with my demand, made upon Chief of Police O’Neill personally, for the arrest of the mayor of Chicago, the building commissioner, one of his inspectors and the owners and managers of the theatre. O’Neill sidestepped. His failure to act was the American’s pretext for daily broadsides that continued until the grand jury indicted five of the accused men. The mayor was omitted from the list.

Vigorous pressure was exerted in the defendants’ behalf. They were described as martyrs of a hysteria engendered by sensation-mongers. My complaint had charged criminal negligence. The Iroquois Theatre was a new building. The license to operate was issued without adequate inspection. When the flames burst forth, frenzied efforts were made to open the skylight. It was hoped the blaze could be diverted upward long enough for the audience to escape. The big window couldn’t be budged. Nobody had ever gotten around to putting it in order.

A majority of the victims were found on the main floor. Fully 200 were piled waist high against the emergency exits. The charred bodies had blocked these means of egress because the doors opened inward. So, blunders of builders and managers were chargeable with more lives than the fire itself. That was one expose to which passion drove me with a fury no mere professional feeling could equal. Diagrams, sketches, cartoons and photographs stressed each lesson of the catastrophe.

Ultimately, the five indictments failed; but we had meanwhile focused attention on methods to prevent a recurrence of the Iroquois Theatre horror. A popular demand arose for these safeguards. The universal requirement for their presence in places of public assembly salves many a bruise suffered in less successful crusades. It suggests a further solace. Fire curtains and outward opening exits will last much longer than most of the goals I missed.

No other single news experience presented to me so inclusive a panorama of varied values. Foster Coates, in charge of the paper, was in New York. Andrew E. Puckrin, the managing editor, had collapsed from the suddenly tautened strain. And thereby shone the golden halo with which the spirit of journalism bedecks a staff when a crisis calls. Only a few weeks before a still-smoldering resentment against an outsider’s selection as city editor had flared afresh over his “luck” with the Car Barn Bandits story. But at the clang of the Iroquois Theatre fire alarm all personalities’vanished. From basement to roof, every worker responded as one man. “The play must go on” is a proud tradition of the stage. It becomes a wan wish beside the fierce urge that tugs at newspaper souls when “the presses are waiting.”

For ten successive days, the private economies of the American’s personnel were utterly forgotten. Several of the reporters didn’t undress for a week. Some of them snatched a few hours’ sleep from time to time on piles of old newspapers in the “morgue” or reference room. Most of them were still bleary-eyed with fatigue when a bonus of three weeks’ additional salary was distributed. That was unprecedented, but not excessive. The Chicago American's first extra on the Iroquois Theatre fire contained an interview with Fire Marshal Horan placing the dead at more than 500. This was told in a two-column step-off caption leading out of a page-wide head. The corresponding extra of the Daily News, our chief competitor, reached the street at practically the same moment. The American arrived at some news stands first, the News at others. But the News’s story, under a two-column head, estimated the casualties at twenty injured. An increase of $25 raised my weekly salary to $100.

*********

The mind grasps nothing more variable—either in swiftness or in sweep—than the comparative valuations of news elements. Often, without alteration of the slightest detail, the transcendent story of one instant shrinks into a negligible item of the next. The Iroquois Theatre fire demonstrated a noteworthy case. Emil Roeski was the demonstrant. Youngest of the Car Barn Bandits, if he had chosen any other afternoon for the exploit, his escape from prison would have occasioned a special edition. The method of his break for liberty suggested an Alexander Dumas novel. A well-made rope, hidden between the crusts of a pie, had been sneaked into Roeski’s hands. It saved him a thirty-foot drop. 

The yarn of the boy desperado’s get-away and recapture, instead of commanding two pages of type and pictures, was told in a couple of paragraphs. His futile flight left the only trace of usefulness in his whole life. It is convenient to employ as an illustration or diagram of the unmeasurable exigencies that affect the allotment of newspaper space. Its simplicity is especially effective. It should penetrate even the arid areas of intelligence of those statesmen who turn from an incapacity for statesmanship to a larger incapacity for criticism of the press. It should indicate how stupid, asinine or insincere is the unskilled absentee who sets his estimate of relative news values against the judgment of the editor on the job. 

It should impress a stamp upon those pretenders whose proximity to the source endows them with a false authority—men who scorn the calling from which they draw their livelihood, either unable or unwilling to absorb its essence—those journalistic misfits who befoul their own nests with the excretions of an unforgivable benightment. Such as these might envy the effrontery of the editorial writer who descended from his lofty dais in St. Louis to give a nationwide radio audience an exposition of newspaper bias in the 1940 presidential campaign. His analysis was based on inch measurements and percentages thereof. He and his ilk might get enlightenment from the shade of Emil Roeski. 

Chapter 10 Part 3 Next Week   
link to previous installment   link to next installment

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Wednesday, September 27, 2017

 

Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Associated Features Syndicate


The Associated Features Syndicate was started in 1932. The Lebanon Daily News (Pennsylvania), July 22, 1954, published an obituary for S. Fayette Cartledge and said “Cartledge had been with National News Service and was a partner in Associated Features Syndicate from 1932 until he established his own publicity agency five years ago, serving community weekly newspapers.” In a classified advertisement in the Trenton Evening Times, November 17, 1950, Associated Features Syndicate described itself as an “18 year old agency”.




According to PennsylvaniaDB, Associated Features Syndicate was incorporated in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on April 16, 1934. The names of the corporate officers were not stated.

Field Guide to Wild American Pulp Artists said Robert W. Farrell “owned and operated Association Feature Syndicate [sic]”. It’s not known who the other Associated Features Syndicate partners were and their percentage of ownership. Associated Features Syndicate was based in Philadelphia with offices in other cities. Farrell was a New York City representative in the Woolworth Building office.

A forthcoming Associated Features Syndicate column was noted by the Cleveland Plain Dealer (Ohio), January 28, 1935.

Huey is now taking up journalism as a means of reaching out with his economic and political ideas. The Associated Features Syndicate advertising in Editor and Publisher that Long will write a daily 100-word article a la Will Rogers, commenting on “vital affairs, social, economic and political.” It will be headed: “Huey Long Says.”
Long died September 10, 1935.

The New York Post published a series of articles about Long. The fourth chapter appeared September 13, 1935 and said

…Senator Long, as recently as the early spring of this year, made arrangements with Robert W. Farrel [sic], a young syndicate manager with offices in the Woolworth Building, for the marketing of a daily feature—a brief bit of personal, informally written comment, somewhat in the style of the late Will Rogers.

Long wrote a number of sample columns, and plans were made to open an intensive nation-wide sales drive in the beginning of next year.

Mr. Farrel, who disclosed these facts to the Post, said he was so certain of the enormous success awaiting the venture that, to protect his interests, he signed a six-rear contract with the Senator.

The syndicate manager’s extreme confidence in the profitable outcome of the enterprise further prompted him to apply to one of the great insurance companies for a policy on Senator Long’s life.

It was his intention to take out $100,000 on the Kingfish with himself as the beneficiary in order to offset the heavy losses which, he felt, he would suffer in the event of the Senator’s death.

In light of Long’s violent end, these insurance negotiations had in them a quality of dire prophecy.

Officials of the company, Mr. Farrel said, informed him that the premium could not be determined on the usual basis of age, health, occupation. In Long’s case, they told him, a special study of the facts by the company’s actuaries was required.

Mr. Farrel was finally notified that the annual cost of the $100,000 policy would be $10,000—a 10 per cent premium.

Astonished, he demanded to know the reason.

“Our actuaries,” the insurance men told him, “consider Huey Long an extremely hazardous risk.”
An entry in the Catalog of Copyright Entries, Part 1, Group 2, Pamphlets, Etc., 1938, New Series, Volume 35, Number 2, showed Associated Features Syndicate had an office in New Brunswick, New Jersey.

The New Brunswick Home News newspaper published Jack Kirby's Lightnin’ and the Lone Rider. The strip was conceived by Farrell, also the writer, as a Lone Ranger imitation. A promotional advertisement ran November 16, 1938. Promotional strips ran beginning January 3, 1939. Lightnin’ and the Lone Rider debuted January 9. Kirby’s last strip appeared February 18. The strip resumed two days later with art by Frank Robbins. His run ended April 22. The strips were reprinted in the Famous Funnies comic book series.

Another Associated Features Syndicate imitation was Fu Ling Pu, a comic panel similar to Stanley Link’s Ching Chow that was created by Sidney Smith. Fu Ling Pu was written by George Ebbert and drawn by Gill Fox. Apparently, the series was never sold; samples can be viewed here


In 1938 Associated Features Syndicate copyrighted Little Ezra by Ed Jona. It’s not known if the series was ever published.

Julian Ollendorff’s Olly of the Movies moved in 1937 from the “McNaught Syndicate to the less prestigious Consolidated News Features….Things really hit rock bottom a year later, when the strip was picked up by hole-in-the-wall outfit Associated Features.”

Associated Features Syndicate provided images of U.S. Army Air Corp and Navy planes for the full-page Comicscope advertisement that appeared in comic books such as Yankee Comics #1, September 1941 and Our Flag Comics #2, October 1941. The patent for the projector was held by Victor S. Fox and Farrell. (The Comicscope and Simon and Kirby’s Captain America crossed paths here. Kirby’s Lightnin’ and the Lone Rider was seen in the Televiewer/Movieviewer.)


Associated Features Syndicate moved its New York City office at least three times after its Woolworth Building location. Classified Lists (1939) listed Associated Features Syndicate at the Times Building. A 1941 issue of Writer’s Monthly had this listing: “Associated Features Syndicate, Times Bldg., New York City. Ed., Robert W. Farrell. Feature articles, comic strips, humor columns, and editorial material. Pay on royalty basis.” A 1942 issue of The Writer said Associated Features Syndicate was at 1776 Broadway. In a 1944 issue of Writer’s Monthly, Associated Features Syndicate’s address was 28 East 10th Street.

Associated Features Syndicate’s main office was in Philadelphia at 1806 Harrison Street, and, from time to time, it advertised for help in the Philadelphia Inquirer.



1/22/1937



2/11/1940; aforementioned Cartledge was an editor


9/2/1950

4/8/1951

At some point Associated Features Syndicate ceased operations.



—Alex Jay

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Tuesday, September 26, 2017

 

Mystery Strip Found! Kirby's Lightnin' and the Lone Rider


Jack Kirby fans are well-aware that the King penned a comic strip titled Lightnin' and the Lone Rider back in his formative years; the strip is well-documented because it ran in the very popular Famous Funnies comic book. However, the strips as printed there are obviously taken from a format designed for daily newspaper appearance, not comic book pages. The mystery is that we've never been able to find the darn thing running in any newspaper.

Acting on Kirby's vague memories that some newspaper in New Jersey ran some of his early efforts, I have for years eagerly checked any oddball New Jersey paper I came across from that era. I even sent Dave Strickler on a wild-goose chase to that state when I was given the name of a paper (the Red Bank Register) that supposedly ran the Kirby output -- Strickler and I were both terribly disappointed when the lead failed to pan out.

In this age of digitization, it is disappointing that New Jersey newspapers are not exactly coming onto the web in droves. We know that all sorts of obscure strips ran in the newspapers of New Jersey, because they often could not get the rights to run the big name strips. That's because the big New York City newspapers snapped up most everything worth printing, and exclusivity agreements made the popular strips unavailable to many other New York, Connecticut and New Jersey papers.

One paper that has appeared online recently is the New Brunswick (NJ) Home News, and ace researcher Jeffrey Lindenblatt just brought me the thrilling news that he found a run of Kirby's Lightnin' and the Lone Rider in that paper. Finally after several decades of searching, there's an important mystery strip we can finally cross off the long list!

The first news that the good people of New Brunswick got of the strip was this promo ad that ran on  November 16 1938. Note that our artist goes by the rough-and-tumble cowpoke name of Lance Kirby on the strip. Associated Features Syndicate, whose slug appears here for the first time, was reportedly writer Bob Farrell's start-up company:



Then on January 3 1939, five days of promo strips ran to herald the new feature (Tuesday to Saturday, as they did not publish on Monday in observance of New Year's). Here's the first of the promos:


Finally, with the readers at a fever pitch of fascination from the breathless marketing push, the strip debuted on January 9:


The readers of the Home News got to enjoy the King's art on the strip until February 18, a mere six weeks. According to Jean Depelley in Jack Kirby Collector #69, Bob Farrell, the writer of the strip as well as the head of the infant syndicate, fired him. Here is his final strip:


The next Monday a new artist debuted, none other than the great Frank Robbins, who I think made his pro debut here. This is his first strip, from February 20:


Though still wet behind the ears, Robbins already showed himself to be a consummate pro cartoonist. Unfortunately the readers of the Home News had barely gotten comfortable with him before the strip came to an end on April 22. For those keeping score, that's nine weeks of Robbins work, and a total of 15 weeks overall; 16 if you count the promo strip week.

According to Jean Depelley, Robbins only handled the strip for a month, with art on the remainder of the run by George Brousek, but I find no evidence of that here -- Robbins signs until the end. Here's the final strip:



Jeffrey Lindenblatt made the extra effort to triangulate the appearance of the strip in the New Brunswick Home News with the version that ran in Famous Funnies. The comic book adds somewhere between 17 and 19 pages of 'new' material at the end of the series -- was there a Sunday version of the strip that was not published by the Home News? Depelley says no; his claim is that Kirby revisited the series later, adding these pages, which are properly formatted for comic book appearance. Here is Jeffrey's Famous Funnies list -- each link takes you to the appropriate comic book on the Digital Comic Museum website.


Famous Funnies #62 (09/39) - 1/9/39 - 1/16/39
Famous Funnies #63 (10/39) - 1/17/39 - 1/25/39
Famous Funnies #64 (11/39) - 1/26/39 - 2/3/39
Famous Funnies #65 (12/39) - 2/4/39 - 2/13/39
Famous Funnies #66 (01/40) - 2/14/39 - 2/15/39, 2/21/39 - 2/27/39
Famous Funnies #67 (02/40) - 2/28/39 - 3/8/39
Famous Funnies #68 (03/40) - 3/9/39 - 3/17/39
Famous Funnies #69 (04/40) - 3/18/39, 3/23/39 - 3/30/39
Famous Funnies #70 (05/40) - 3/31/39 - 4/8/39
Famous Funnies #71 (06/40) - 4/10/39 - 4/18/39
Famous Funnies #72 (07/40) - 4/19/39 - 4/22/39 + first of original pages -- could there have been an intended Sunday version of the strip?
Famous Funnies #73 (08/40) - 2 Pages
Famous Funnies #74 (09/40) - 2 Pages
Famous Funnies #75 (10/40) - 2 Pages
Famous Funnies #76 (11/40) - 2 Pages
Famous Funnies #77 (12/40) - 2 Pages
Famous Funnies #78 (01/41) - 2 Pages
Famous Funnies #79 (02/41) - 2 Pages
Famous Funnies #80 (03/41) - 2 Pages
Famous Funnies #81 (04/41) - ? Pages (Not Available from Digital Comic Museum)
Famous Funnies #82 (05/41) - No Lone Rider

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Slick detective work, there. Always nice to put a -30- on those kinds of mysteries.
 
I have actually been busy in recent weeks pouring over Newspaper dot com website to find the original dates of the reprinted strips in Famous Funnies, and have been working on many of these issues in the Grand Comics Database, and now I got some more editing to do! :-)

Question I have for those who compared the originals with the FF reprints:
Editor Stephen Douglas did a LOT of heavy editing for the daily strips in particular. Some of it, like trimming, expanding, or dropping panels, was clearly done to better fit the page layout.

Other editing was re-writing of dialogue, usually simplified, in the reprinted strip. I assume this was done because they felt the audience age of FF is younger than an average comic page in the newspaper. Was this done to this strip as well?

Douglas also altered art. Many strips, toning in the original black and white daily strip would be removed in most strips (replaced basically with color. Also any sexy content was censored (one of Big Chief Wahoo's Sunday strips had logo art of him dancing with two belly dancers and reprinted in FF, the belly dancers are gone). Was any of that going on?

My guess is probably not, I assume because of its short run, but I'd like to know if there was any.

Kudos on the good work everyone!

my best
-Ray Bottorff Jr
 
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This may also solve another Kirby Mystery. In on eof his intreviews he mentions working for Frank Robbins. On the basis of that some of us (including me) have been looking for a ghostwritten and/or drawn Kirby sequence in Robbins' Johnny Hazard in the fifties. Then someone suggested Kirby might have assisted Hazard on some of his earliest work on Scorchy Smith. But this predates even that possible encounter. Cold it be that Jack Kirby said he worked with Frank Robbins and not for? And could this be the period he meant?

 
I think there is pretty strong evidence Kirby wrote the Lone Rider. One tell is the strip includes a character named Hank Fletcher. Well right around this time Kirby worked with Fletcher Hanks at both the Eisner and Iger shop and under Victor Fox.
In addition to that I find the character Mr. Chuda is strongly suggestive of many characters Kirby would create later.

Patrick Ford
 
I'm pretty certain that the Lone Rider only appeared in Famous Funnies #61 to #80, and the GCD listing for FF#82 is incorrect.
The storyline in #80 comes to a close, the scan for #82 (which appears complete) has no Rider pages and the Jack Kirby Checklist (from TwoMorrows) says the Lone Rider ends in FF #80 (see page 72).
And, for what its worth, I support the idea that there were planned, at least, a Sunday strip for at least 8 weeks -- and a couple of those 'Sunday' pages in Famous Funnies were by Robbins.
 
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Monday, September 25, 2017

 

Magazine Cover Comics: Dolly's Dates


Frank Godwin produced many covers for the Philadelphia Public Ledger's syndicated Sunday magazine section, but only produced a single continuing series for them in all that time. It seems that the Ledger Syndicate was not too interested in following the lead of the Hearst magazine covers of the day, which often featured months-long series.

Dolly's Dates doesn't really have a continuing story; it's basically just a weekly rundown of the different types of men dated by a sweet young bachelorette. The last installment does have her finding her dream date, but we don't even find out what 'type' he is; according to the caption, "whether he's a ribbon clerk or a realtor, it makes no difference to Dolly; she knows not, neither does she care." Oh well then.

For those of us who are deeply enamored of Godwin's luscious pen work, Dolly's Dates is a bit of a disappointment. On his Ledger magazine cover illustrations Godwin smartly let the color do some of the heavy lifting, and therefore the lovely cross-hatching and noodling we Godwin-philes love so is toned down considerably.

Dolly's Dates ran as the cover feature of the Public Ledger magazine section from February 20 to March 27 1927.

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