Saturday, October 21, 2017


Herriman Saturday

Wednesday, May 19 1909 -- Philadelphia Jack O'Brien is to meet reigning heavyweight champion Jack Jonson in the ring today, but the fight is scheduled for just six rounds, and there will be no official scoring. Herriman wonders if boxing fans will rightfully ignore what is just a sideshow that offers the two fighters an easy payday.


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Friday, October 20, 2017


Wish You Were Here, from Albert Carmichael

Here's a Carmichael series we haven't seen yet. "They Never Come Back" was issued by Taylor Pratt & Company as Series 728, probably around 1913-14. For some reason Carmichael chose not to sign any of the cards in this later series -- perhaps because he was starting to think of himself as a success as a newspaper artist?


Did you notice the car has a British, i.e., right-hand drive, steering wheel? Granted, that's probably a function of showing off the dame, but it is curious.
Seems as if right-hand drive American cars were quite common then:
What are we supposed to understand from this card? They never came back, meaning what? They drove over a cliff and died? They got lost and died? They drove all the way to California because they didn't know how to turn around? They went somewhere and shacked up and had wild animal sex for many decades thereafter? They just went someplace else because they couldn't stand the old lady? They were con artists and were actually stealing the old lady's car? They have no idea who the old lady is, nor why she was speaking to them? They went and robbed a bank and their names are Bonnie and Clyde? In other words — I don't get it.
You should submit it to Comics I Don't Understand. Always thought they should do classics as well as new comics.

... or maybe it's just not a good gag.

Btw, I'd still like to get some details about the Neil the Horse newspaper comic strip from you. Might you contact me at strippersguide at

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Thursday, October 19, 2017


King News by Moses Koenigsberg: Chapter 11 Part 2

 King News by Moses Koenigsberg

Published by F.A. Stokes Company, 1941

Chapter 11

The Ordeal of the Red Hankerchief (part 2)

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It was my privilege twice during that period [editorship of the Chicago American] to furnish emphatic proof of editorial independence from advertising control. The occasions grew out of widely different news items. First came what has been described as the bloodiest strike on record. Second was the fatal shooting of Marshall Field, Jr.

The labor conflict was the result of Montgomery Ward & Company’s refusal to arbitrate the closed shop demand of seventeen garment workers. The controversy had smoldered for nearly five months. Then, on April 7, 1905, the seventy-one teamsters employed by the same firm walked out in sympathy with the striking needle pliers. The company was boycotted and picketed. That spread the strike to department stores and coal, grocery and express corporations. Their drivers refused to make deliveries to customers who had been declared “unfair.” A call went out to business men to oppose this trade union action with a fight to the finish.

The Employers’ Teaming Association was formed. It imported strikebreakers by the thousands. Trainloads of Negroes were brought from the South. Racial differences thus intensified the struggle. Street battles were fought at all hours in every section of the city. The sheriff swore in 2,300 deputies to reinforce the police. Casualties to the innocent passer-by became so numerous that panic hovered over the community. Frightened citizens demanded the imposition of martial law. Injunctions were sued out and indictments returned against both labor leaders and employers for conspiracies to violate writs of court. The rioting increased daily. By July, 21 dead and 415 wounded victims were reported.

Strikers run from shooting strike-breakers, 1905
This was pitched warfare. Its flames scorched walls far outside the arena in which labor and capital were waging their contest. It was of the highest importance to present the news with an impartiality beyond question. That was my constant aim. But both sides found fault with the American’s reports. Cornelius P. Shea, president of the teamsters’ international association, was personally directing the labor forces. He suffered a misplaced admiration. It was Napoleon to whom should have gone the approval that Shea lavished on himself. In several telephone conversations he expressed sharp displeasure over the American's treatment of current events in Chicago. He believed “the unions were getting the dirty end of the stick.” He demanded that I place greater emphasis on news favorable to the strikers and “choke off a lot of the other rot.”

Ever since my amateur days, there had been unceasing evidences of an irrepressible editorial afflatus among interested laymen. It was, as a rule, stridently vocal. But it had usually come to me in the form of criticisms or suggestions. Never before had it been translated into an explicit direction. My indignation did not lessen Shea’s insistence. He became furious. He decided to have me removed. Happily, he did not employ the direct-action method favored by some of his less resourceful associates. He telegraphed an earnest protest to my employer. Shea intrusted a copy of his complaint to Glen E. Laughery, the American’s labor reporter, for exhibition to me. That was my last personal communication from or about Shea. Later, I learned that the remonstrance reached Hearst in California. Apparently, it shared the same fate allotted to letters which Hearst believed would “answer themselves in a couple of weeks.”

The employers were much more formal in presenting their objections. They submitted an application for a meeting with the editor. The request, while outwardly courteous, assumed a minatory tinge from the composition of the designated committee. It consisted exclusively of leading advertisers. The members were executives of the seven most prominent department stores on State Street, Chicago’s famous shopping artery—Marshall Field & Co., Carson, Pirie, Scott & Co., Charles A. Stevens & Bro., Siegel & Cooper, Mandel Bros., The Fair, and Hillman. Their visit was attended by a disconcerting solemnity. It was difficult to dismiss the feeling that at any moment they might intone a requiem.

The session imposed on me an unexpected burden. It had been my understanding that the formidable delegation of advertising magnates would be met by the highest-ranking dignitary the American could present. That should have been Richard A. Farrelly. He had been detached from the New York American the year before to serve as Hearst’s editor-in-chief in Chicago. Farrelly was one of the journalistic galaxy which a decade earlier moved its orbit from the Pulitzer to the Hearst constellation. He detested formal conferences. At the last minute, he left me alone to face the seven envoys from State Street, availing himself of “a constitutional right to evade cruel and unusual punishment.”

Time has not blunted the point of a single major argument advanced at that tilt over the resistance against dollar pressure on the press. Of course, the committee disavowed any intent to confuse advertising patronage with the purposes of their visit. It was merely a coincidence that all of them were in the practice of buying newspaper space. They had been selected because their daily contacts gave them a wider and deeper familiarity with the current phases of community life than was the normal experience of other classes of business men. Still, it must be apparent that a continuance of the present trend of affairs would make the use of advertisements a futile function. Oh, no! This wasn’t meant for anything like a veiled threat.

The committee were bent no more on intimidation than instruction. They were merely good citizens come to point out a common peril—a swift-growing crisis that they believed the editor could ward off. Though doubtless he had no such purpose, his method of presenting the news supplied a rallying force for elements of disorder. It was a constant spur to the strikers’ flagging spirits. What an opening this made for me! Did the gentlemen know that the strike leader—the president of the teamsters’ organization— took an exactly contrary position? Would it astonish my visitors to hear that Shea had protested earnestly and repeatedly that I “was following a policy definitely adverse to the interests of the unions”?

No, the committee were not even mildly shocked by this revelation. As a matter of fact, it betrayed an unreasonableness that fitted into the mosaic of their views. They did not charge the American with conscious hostility either to the employers or the strikers. They were not critical of the textual content of the stories published. What worried them was the effect of the headlines. It was the big, black lettering which they condemned.

Plastered over the top half of a front page, each of these headings was undeniably provocative. They were planned that way. And this was the grave menace which the State Street savants had called to discuss. The very size of the type, they were sure, conveyed a meaning apart from the words. It was stressfully exciting. It was in itself suggestive of violence. Above all, it infused the strikers with a false sense of their own importance. It would goad them into a persistence certain to cost Chicago irreparable damage.

Parts of my reply were baked in cerebral ovens suspended over a fire that had been burning for fourteen years. The flame had been started by W. Ballantyne Patterson, the real estate promoter who first jostled my confidence in the invulnerability of the press. He applied the spark by revoking an advertising contract with the San Antonio Times. The cancelation expressed dissatisfaction with the subordinate display of my story of a soiree at Patterson’s home. The pettiness of the grievance magnified the significance of the incident. Failure to combat this attempt at tyranny over the news remained in my memory the least forgivable stain on the escutcheon of journalism. Ever since, the yearning had possessed me to share in a complete and final reversal of the shield. Now the department store moguls had let me in for a “big time” inning.

The committee’s graciousness in waiving all consideration as advertisers was duly acknowledged. That waiver, however, only underlined the realities. It was impossible to face such a group of conspicuous business leaders without recognizing the potentialities of their presence together in a newspaper shop. It would be impossible to shut my mind entirely to this formidable implication. Still, the delegation had been helpful in frankly disclaiming any thought of possible coercion or undue influence. That made it unnecessary to thresh out in detail certain truisms that must form the basis of my remarks. The mere citation of a few, such as these, would suffice:
These axiomatic phrases might sound like labored homiletics prepared for a class in journalism; but they framed the preliminary view that must be taken of any proposal to a newspaper emanating from advertising sources. The substance of the committee’s suggestion would be thoroughly digested. The friendliness of their motives alone assured this course. But a reciprocal friendliness prompted the explanation that no matter what conclusion was reached, it would be guided solely by editorial judgment. The seven shamans of State Street withdrew as ceremoniously as if they had just delivered an ultimatum to an oriental potentate. Perhaps there was some warrant for their gravity. They had performed a delicate mission. They had made clear their disapproval of the typography of a daily newspaper. In the vernacular of a less pretentious circle, they had “just laid an egg.” It never hatched.

 My next declaration of editorial independence from advertising dominance was marked by a clash inside the Hearst organization. The set-up had been altered. Farrelly was no longer my chief. He had been transferred to Boston as publisher of the Boston American. And there was now a publisher on the Chicago American. William Preston Leech had resigned as general manager of the San Francisco Chronicle to accept this new post. These changes were in accord with a revision of managerial policy that W. R. Hearst was effecting. It pointed toward emphasis of the business department’s control of operations.

Until then, the editorial chief had been recognized as supreme in each unit. Now, the highest insignia of office were pinned on the publisher. His installation in first rank clothed him with a prestige calculated to command the advertiser’s fullest respect. Appointees were chosen with especial regard to their promotional ability in the sales field. Meanwhile, the editor was not divested of any responsibility. There was no lessening of his direct accountability to the proprietor. The degree of his subordination to the publisher was dependent on himself—on the measure of forcefulness, strategy and tact that he employed in maintaining an uninterrupted two-way channel of communication with Hearst. High altitude in a newspaper organization stimulates editorial aspirations less aggressive at lower levels. So, most of the new heads of operation found it difficult to keep their hands off the news. Intriguing games of office politics followed.

This regime was essentially Hearstian. It tied authority to the person instead of the job. Suppose it did lead to occasional confusion. Suppose some executive’s spirit was broken or that another’s initiative was bogged down. Suppose that now and then there was a snarling of the threads of methodical procedure. What did all this amount to beside the strokes of brilliance that might ensue from friction between personality and position? Why hamper genius with discipline? The cock-sure answers that stood for a while have since bobbed up for reexamination.

Leech’s advent as publisher of the Chicago American had not affected my status as managing editor. It did temper my relations with Max Annenberg, the circulation manager. Leech had been connected with the business direction of dailies in several cities. His experience had not included any editorial training. That, of course, stamped a marked reservation on my acceptance of his chieftaincy. Annenberg attached himself to his latest boss with professed enthusiasm. One bond had held Max in hearty collaboration with me—a common passion for increasing circulation. Under Leech, Max’s ardor was seasoned with a solicitude for advertising revenues.

Annenberg was just beginning his climb to the highest compensation of any employee engaged in the distribution of periodical publications. His earnings on the New York. Daily News in the late 1930s exceeded $200,000 annually. Max is not to be confused with his brother, Moses L. Annenberg, who, also starting as a newsboy in Chicago and serving for a number of years as a lieutenant of W. R. Hearst, ultimately became the multimillionaire proprietor of the Philadelphia Inquirer. At one time Moses L. Annenberg received the largest cash income in America derived from sources not listed on the Stock Exchange. Much of his wealth was garnered from a monopoly of racing news for bookmakers. The curiosity of government agents led to his occupation of quarters in a federal prison. His sojourn there consumed part of the time required to make up an $8,000,000 penalty.

The Annenbergs did not exert a sedative influence. They kept both competitors and associates always on the qui vive. Near the upper rungs of their respective careers, they became bitterly estranged. That ended my long study of their personalities. Their candor obviated any further research. It presented them as ruggedly unique individuals, contemptuous of conventional—and sometimes other—restraints.

Few dishes tempted Max’s palate so much as the word “murder” tickled his tongue. His favorite headline was “Double Murder and Suicide.” With that, he always promised extra sales. My argument that it might repel as many buyers as it tempted fell on deaf ears. He was sure it injected into his street hustlers such a vim as they got from few other labels. And, that, he insisted, meant a batch of additional readers.

There were other phases of Max’s partiality for the word “murder.” Its frequent use suggested a callousness in quarters that it was advantageous to impress with such a quality. The Chicago war for newspaper circulation was entering a homicidal stage. Max Annenberg was acquiring a reputation apt to deter weak-kneed rivals from the sort of violence that might prompt reprisal. After he had joined the Chicago Tribune, several years later, a shocking rise in the mortality rate among news-dealers brought his name conspicuously to the fore. It has been my suspicion that this notoriety was less deserved than designed. It did not diminish Max’s payroll stature. It was partly responsible for his mention as “a throbbing sinus of newspaperdom.”

At half-past four in the morning of November 23, 1905, a telephone call awoke me. It was from Joseph H. Finn, editor of an edition of the American listed on the press schedule as the “Indiana,” because it was timed to catch trains for the Hoosier State. To the newsboys, it was the “Postscript,” descriptive of its relationship to the morning papers. Its official designation for the editorial and composing-room staffs was “Morning Glory.” That was more cynical than poetic. It emphasized the inconvenience of the hours of the shift, least desirable in the whole newspaper routine. Beginning work in successive squads at 9, 10 and 11 o’clock in the evening, they finished duty at respectively 5, 6 and 7 o’clock in the forenoon. There was no “jocund day standing tiptoe” to meet them. Instead, the “Morning Glory” rolled off the presses in ironic reminder that their night’s chore ground the morning and the glory thereof into plain supper-time.

Marshall Field Jr.
Finn was a capable editor. A few years later he organized a successful advertising agency. He was seldom stumped. But in this instance, he was clutching the upper branches of a tall tree. He asked for instructions on the handling of an extraordinary news event with angles of unusual delicacy. Marshall Field, Jr., had been found dying from a gunshot wound. This, in itself, was more than a local story of the first magnitude. It involved one of the proudest names in America. The wounded man was the son of an international figure who prized his position as the world’s greatest merchant less than he esteemed his rank as foremost citizen of Chicago.

The four morning papers had issued extras to cover the latest developments of the tragedy. The headlines of three—the Tribune, Record-Herald and W. R. Hearst’s Examiner—described it as an accident. The Inter-Ocean heading referred to the wound as self-inflicted, without further explanation. According to an unofficial statement issued several hours later, the victim was found on a couch in his wife’s boudoir. Blood was pouring from a bullet wound in his side. On the floor lay an automatic revolver. The discovery was made by the butler. He had been summoned by a bell. That was at 5:30 in the afternoon. The household was aroused and young Field was hastened to Mercy Hospital. The ambulance bearing him away passed the carriage in which his wife was returning from an afternoon of social calls. A surgical operation was performed at 6:30.

An element of mystification was introduced by the family’s reticence. The police were not notified until midnight. Then the notice consisted only of the formal hospital report required by law in such circumstances. Two detectives were assigned to investigate. Nobody at the Field mansion or at the hospital was communicative. It was three o’clock in the morning before Assistant Chief of Police Schuettler organized enough of the facts to bring the case to the attention of his superior, Superintendent Collins. The unexplained lapse of more than six hours, between the shooting and the notification to the authorities, presented an enigma. The riddle was complicated by continued secrecy.

The wording and typography of the headline as well as the first paragraph of the text of the story to appear in the next edition of the American were dictated over the telephone. The heading, in two lines approximately eight inches deep, read:


In fifteen minutes, Finn was followed on the phone by Max Annenberg. Ordinarily, Max’s work-day began at 7 a.m. The Marshall Field story had hustled him out of bed several hours earlier. Evidently he had been in touch with Leech. Marshall Field & Co., the bellwether of Midwest mercantile affairs, had some time before crossed the Chicago American off its list of advertising media. Leech confronted no task more pressing or consequential than recovering the patronage of this top-notch advertiser. Annenberg’s call stressed the critical nature of that problem.

“I’ve just come from the composing room,” Max said in palpable agitation. “I saw the head you ordered. Koenigsberg, you’re murdering the paper.”

“First degree, or just manslaughter?” I asked, as much to reprove him for idiomatic excess as for extravagance of statement.

“This is too serious to ‘kid’ about,” Annenberg answered. “You know that we need the Marshall Field business more than anything else; and your head will put the kibosh on our last chance to get it back.”

The frigidity of a nightgown ensemble may have accented the chill of this questioning response: “Do you mean to suggest that the story be suppressed?”

“Of course not; but the mystery angle is suicide.”

Max didn’t mean that young Field had sought to destroy his own life. He did mean that self-destruction for the Chicago American lay in the headlines that I had dictated to Finn. Max felt certain that any assertion of mystery in connection with the shooting would array the all-powerful Marshall Field group and their friends against the offending newspaper. And Max professed to fear that the American could not survive the punishment that would be meted out.

Annenberg had never before objected to a startling headline. Obviously, he was playing a part. He was acting as a catspaw to force my hand. “Whether you know it or not,” I said, “you are advising the suppression of news. If you had any facts which our staff was unable to obtain, there would be some excuse for your call. But without any pretense of fresh information, you offer advice about the editorial handling of a story. You wouldn’t presume to do such a thing except to ‘get a rise’ out of me. Well, you’ve got it. The head that I have ordered on the Marshall Field story will stand. If your concern about your employer’s property in this situation is sincere, you should take it up with the proper person, your chief. The publisher is entitled to discuss this matter with the managing editor.”

A moment later, Leech telephoned. “Annenberg says you want to talk with me,” he began.

“That is not correct,” I answered quickly. “You know that I don’t need Annenberg’s help to reach you.”

“But Annenberg said—”

“Mr. Leech,” I interrupted, “my watch shows five o’clock. It’s not an hour for stage setting. Let’s save time with a bit of frankness. Annenberg apparently has reported to you what I said to him about the headlines on the Marshall Field shooting. If you wish to discuss my statement now, let’s proceed from that point.”

“Well, Koenigsberg, do you realize that Marshall Field & Co. are the most important advertisers in Chicago and that while they may not regularly buy the largest volume of newspaper space, they do buy a great deal?”

“Not in the American.’’

“That’s the main point,” Leech retorted. “We’ve been trying very hard to get them back in the paper. How can we ever hope to do that if we antagonize them on a story such as this?”

“Your question is just as unanswerable as the trick query of the prosecutor in the stage farce—‘When did you last beat your wife?’ We haven’t set out to antagonize Marshall Field & Co. We’re publishing the news. That’s our job. If we do it well, we’ll hold the respect of everybody, including the Marshall Fields. If we flunk—especially if we do so with the idea that we’ll be rewarded for flunking—we’ll lose the respect of everybody, including the Marshall Fields. And what would be the attitude of other advertisers if they learned that we had omitted important intelligence with the purpose of having one of their competitors accept the omission as a bribe for the renewal of his business?

“I don’t purpose to tell you anything about the sale of space; but I’m convinced it would be easier to get contracts with those who believe we print the news without fear or favor than with those who suspect us of killing or distorting news. The fact that Marshall Field & Co. are not advertising with us now tightens the squeeze on us. It puts us in the center of the spotlight. I think your prospect of getting the Marshall Field account will be better after we have published this story than it would be if we failed to print it. That, however, is not my reason for going ahead. My duty is to serve the reader without truckling to the advertiser. That’s what I shall do until I’m stopped.”

There was an uncomfortably long silence, during which I nervously canvassed the courses open to Leech. Dare he countermand my orders to the staff? That was possible, but unlikely. It would be risking too unpalatable a result. He might try to reach W. R. Hearst by telephone. I had no misgiving on that score.

“I am not happy about this,” Leech said at last. “I can only hope that you’re right; but I’m not sure. However, I am not going to put up a fight.”

Marshall Field, Jr., succumbed to his wound on November 27th, five days after the shooting. On December 2nd a jury impaneled by Coroner Hoffman returned a verdict of accident. That formality failed to silence the stories that shrouded the death in the most persistent of Chicago’s legendary mysteries. The most popular theory laid the scene of the shooting in the Everleigh Club, a resort of international notoriety colored by yarns—widely credited but never substantiated—of world-famous beauties who, incognito, shared its prismatic piquancies from time to time.

William Preston Leech succeeded, before many months, in regaining for the Chicago American the advertising patronage of Marshall Field & Co. The circumstances are recounted by way of illumination of one of the most widely discussed phases of journalism—“the influence of the advertiser on the freedom of the press.”

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Wednesday, October 18, 2017


Obscurity of the Day: The Roly Polys

I've made no secret that I'm not a fan of Paul West's art, but in the feature The Roly Polys he shows off a surprisingly great facility for caricature. Why West chose the genre of paper dolls to comment on major news stories of the day, like the Spanish-American War and the Boer War, I cannot fathom, but I have to admit it's kinda neat stuff. Even Governor Teddy Roosevelt makes an appearance. 

The Roly Polys was an occasional feature of the New York World's Sunday comic section from September 10 1899 to July 1 1900. Our samples above are from the collection of Cole Johnson -- unfortunately a little tattered, but this is some really rare stuff. A little bit of the poetry portion is chewed up, but as with all West's versifications, you ain't missing much.


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Tuesday, October 17, 2017


Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Fern McLellan

Fern McLellan was born Fern A. Gordon* on November 14, 1888, in Ontario, Canada. Her birth date is from the Social Security Death Index. The birthplace was published in California and Californians, Volume 3 (1930). She was six years old when her family moved to California.

The 1900 U.S. Federal Census said McLellan was the oldest of two children born to Christopher, a hardware salesman, and Mary. The family resided at 119 South Grand Avenue in Los Angeles, California.

California and Californians said McLellan “was liberally educated, attending the Occidental Preparatory School, the College of Fine Arts of the University of Southern California, and had further training under Mr. Judson and at the Otis School of Fine Arts under Mr. Schrader.”

In the 1910 census, housewife McLellan was married to Gardner Wheeler, a salesman. The couple lived in Los Angeles; the street name is illegible. According to the 1930 census, McLellan was 20 years old (around 1909) when she married.

The 1920 census recorded three children, ages four to nine, born to McLellan who was an artist at a furniture store. Her husband was an abstractor at a title company.

Publications in Southern California Art 1, 2, & 3 (1984) said “From the mid 1920s she was listed as a commercial artist with Kenneth L. McLellan” California and Californians said “In her work as a commercial artist Mrs. Wheeler is associated with Mr. Kenneth L. McLellan. They are doing famous art illustrations, and are regarded as among the cleverest of the art illustrators in the West. They have built up a large clientele, doing work for individuals as well as for some of the largest agencies including Barkers, Lord & Thomas and others. Mrs. Wheeler’s inclination is for illustrating in the children’s world.”

At some point McLellan divorced her husband and married Kenneth McLellan.

The 1930 census recorded the McLellans, both self-employed commercial artists, in Los Angeles at 2446 North Gower Street. McLellan’s ex-husband lived down the street at 2490.

McLellan drew the weekly series Dr. Tinker Claus the Toy Mender which was written by Harold Debus. The series ran from April 3, 1932 to July 2, 1933 in the Los Angeles Times.

McLellan has not yet been found in the 1940 census. Her first husband passed away in 1944.

McLellan passed away February 2, 1967, in San Bernardino, California, according to the California death index at The Social Security Death Index did not have the day of death. McLellan was laid to rest at Forest Lawn Memorial Park. Her second husband passed away the following year.

• McLellan’s name is incorrect in the first sentence at AskArt. The family name is incorrect in the second sentence. McLellan has another entry at AskArt. The year, 1924, in incorrect in the third sentence. McLellan was in Los Angeles since the 1900 census.

—Alex Jay


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Monday, October 16, 2017


Obscurity of the Day: Dr. Tinker Claus the Toy Mender

If you're in L.A. there's no way to tell when it's Christmas time by the weather -- you need the benefit of a shopping mall or at least a calendar -- and apparently the Los Angeles Times had the benefit of neither of these handy indicators. That's the only reason I can think of that they would decide to start running a Christmas comic strip in April.

On April 3 1932, a weekly strip debuted in the Sunday Junior Times kiddie section titled Dr. Tinker Claus the Toy Mender, credited to the team of Harold Debus and Fern McLellan. With no obvious clue to which partner did what, I snooped around a bit and found Mr. Debus' byline on a few news stories, so I'm assuming that Ms. McLellan was the artistic half of the team.

Each week the feature offered a short tale about a group of anthropomorphic toys and their benefactor and friend, Santa's brother, Dr. Tinker Claus. The length of the typeset stories makes the feature more of an illustrated story feature rather than a strip, but I'm giving it a pass.

In 1933 the Junior Times section was reduced to a single page, and that entailed a reduction in space for Dr. Tinker Claus. In May the Times reduced the illustrations from four to two, and on July 2 1933 the final installment was printed, though that episode ended with the promise of another story next week. Although I am unaware of any newspapers taking the feature in syndication, perhaps the feature ran longer elsewhere.

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Saturday, October 14, 2017


Herriman Saturday

Monday, May 17 1909 -- Herriman is referring to a 39-round fight that happened way back on December 30 1908 between Al Kaufman and Jim Barry at Jeffries' Arena. Barry's corner threw in the towel early (it was a 45-round scheduled fight) because their fighter had reportedly broken his hands (!!!!) back in the 30th round and could no longer punch, but just dance around. I'm not sure what his point is about the referee. Any boxing history buffs who can decode this cartoon?


For what it's worth, the referee was Charles Eyton (based on a December 28, 1908 article in the SF Call I located), and he seems to have been a respected referee, to the point where there's even a tobacco card of him (in the T218 series). He also seems to have refereed championship bouts after 1908, so it's not yet clear to me what might have gone wrong. He has a wiki entry:
I've found an account of the fight in the December 31, 1908 issue of the Los Angeles Herald. From reading the account, it seems that Eyton stopped the fight when Barry's corner threw in the towel, much to Barry's own dismay. It doesn't say so explicitly, but I think this must have been a controversial decision in the 39th round, and I can imagine the crowd was not happy. It was, supposedly, a great fight, based on what I see in the account. Eyton was Australian by birth, which may explain part of the gag in the upper left corner of the second panel; that also might be the towel being thrown in.
(1) He's actually New Zealand by birth, but lived in Australia.

(2) Here's a copy of the 1910 tobacco card (front and back) that shows Eyton, so you can compare it to the caricature:
Geez, hard to believe there'd be carping FIVE MONTHS later about a fight being ended after 39 of 45 rounds. And why blame the ref when the guy's own sidemen apparently threw in the towel?

Well, at least I now get the Australia angle!

Thanx, Allan
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Friday, October 13, 2017


Wish You Were Here, from Albert Carmichael

Here's another Carmichael card from the "I Love My Wife, But Oh You Kid" series (Taylor & Pratt Series 565), published 1909. These Carmichael card are going to get a lot of play here on Fridays for awhile, as I discovered a whole cache of images of them.


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Thursday, October 12, 2017


King News by Moses Koenigsberg: Chapter 11 Part 1


 King News by Moses Koenigsberg

Published by F.A. Stokes Company, 1941

Chapter 11

The Ordeal of the Red Hankerchief (part 1)

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The first automobile murder on record lent occasion for a typical Chicago American news raid. At daybreak on November 19, 1904, in a muddy ditch off Archer Road, two miles north of Lemont, near Joliet, Ill., a man was found sitting bolt upright in a stalled car, his hands frozen to the steering gear. He had been dead for hours. An ugly hole in the forehead told the manner of his death. A shot from behind had killed him instantly. Identity of the slain driver was traced through the vehicle’s license number. He was William, son of John W. Bate, a well-to-do Chicagoan living at 1562 Kenmore Avenue. All these facts were published in the local dailies of the Saturday on which the body was discovered. Several circumstances suggested to me the possibility of bottling up the developments of this story for use in the Evening American on Monday.

A preliminary inquest was held by Deputy Coroner John W. Buell, with Dr. Joseph Springer, coroner’s physician, in attendance. Both these officials were beholden to the American. They were confidential members of my auxiliary staff. Discreet application of pressure kept them in seclusion over the week-end. So no further details of the tragedy at Lemont got into the morning papers of either Sunday or Monday. Meanwhile, a select squad was organized—as lusty a band of brigands as ever scuttled a competitor’s scoop or looted a hold of photographs. In charge was Jack Lait, by now a battle-scarred veteran. Under his direction were Carl Pancake, George Pratt and our irrepressible camera man, Nathan Meissler. Deputy Coroner Buell arose Monday morning to find himself in the hands of this marauding crew.

Such records as are available on the subject show that Buell resisted the onset. But the vigor of his resistance decreased with each quarter-hour in the corner saloon across the street. While he manfully coped at the bar with two of his abductors, the other two were speeding to the American office. They carried a bag full of intriguing items that Deputy Coroner Buell intended to deliver to his chief, Coroner Traeger. A challenging announcement occupied a conspicuous position on the first page of our next edition. It promised that in its following issue, the Chicago American would present exclusively two full pages of pictures, love letters and other documents taken from the body of the victim of the mysterious automobile murder.

The ensuing journalistic eruption fell outside all rules of classification. Its seismic violence rocked the coroner’s office. The reverberations reached me. Shortly after eleven o’clock that morning, Coroner Traeger was at my desk. He seemed on the verge of tears. “Why have you done this thing to me?” he asked in a tone so reproachful that it marred my triumph. “All the other newspapers think I helped to cook it up. Mr. Lawson himself telephoned me. He charged me with the most outrageous things, malfeasance in office, among them.”

Traeger’s reference was to Victor F. Lawson, publisher of the Daily News and then dean of Chicago newspaperdom. Together with the editors of the Evening Post and the Evening ]ournal, Lawson suspected the coroner of favoring the American because of its political support. Traeger’s predicament stirred my sympathy. But the need for shielding his deputy held me mute. The coroner had called to get the various, articles, reproductions of which were advertised to appear in the American. He was shocked by a denial that they were in my possession. “If you make another search of your office,” I told him, “I’m sure you’ll find them.” He did.

Three different photographs of Bate, one of his mother and one of his sweetheart, with half a dozen tender missives from the girl and a variety of written memoranda were included in the promised double-page display. Readers were urged to study the facsimiles. Among them a clue to the assassin might be found by one or more persons to whose notice the connecting link would never have come otherwise. This is a useful formula. Public service is becoming livery for a sensational newspaper spread. It “takes the curse off” blatant emotionalism. Most often, it is sincerely fashioned. Sometimes, it actually produces definite results. At least, it improves malar accommodations for some editorial tongues.

America’s first automobile murder was never solved. The motive was lost in the same shadows that swallowed the mysterious Mr. Dove, Bate’s patron on his last drive. The taxicab was then a novelty. Bate, twenty-five years old, had become a chauffeur for the Dan Canary Automobile Company, much as he might have started a dozen years later as an airplane pilot. At 9:25 on the evening of November 18, 1904, he was stationed in a Toledo touring car at the Auditorium Hotel. A well-dressed, blond young man stepped out of the hostelry carrying a suitcase. The doorman heard him tell Bate his name was Dove. Three minutes later the Toledo started on “a trip into the country.” Not another scintilla of evidence was found to explain how William Bate became Number One on the endless list of automobile murder victims. 

 A behind-the-scenes share in a hitherto unpublished chapter of political history came to me in the spring of 1905. It was the sidetracking of an issue of major importance. When the municipal ownership movement reached its zenith, it devolved on me to serve as intermediary between heads of the opposing camps. The outcome cast a penetrating light on the ways of American politicians.

A program for public ownership of public utilities had stirred torrid controversy in practically all the states. Tom L. Johnson had attracted countrywide attention to Cleveland with his fight for city proprietorship of transit facilities. But in 1905, Chicago became the cynosure of all advocates and opponents of the cult. The nation’s second metropolis was forcing a settlement of this hotly debated problem. It was the climax of the long and bitter struggle between those who favored the retention of franchises by the traction corporations and those who demanded the reversion of these rights to the people.

Edward F. Dunne and family
The Democrats nominated Judge Edward F. Dunne for mayor. The Republicans chose as his adversary John Maynard Harlan, son of a justice of the United States Supreme Court. But regular party lines were dimmed by the fury of a battle that resolved itself into a “last stand on basic morals.” The “legions protecting the sanctity of contracts” rallied under Harlan against “the forces of beneficent change” under Dunne. Judge Dunne declared municipal ownership the only issue before the voters. His journalistic support was limited to the Hearst press—the Evening American and the morning edition, which had become the Examiner. Harlan had the backing of the seven other local newspapers, the Tribune, Record-Herald, Inter-Ocean, Chronicle, Daily News, Journal and Post. His noonday and evening speeches never omitted mention of the “two Hearst assassins.”

The color and pungency of the campaign brought indications of a close race. A pre-election poll was organized. My call for experts in such undertakings assembled a special staff. Infinite thoroughness was exacted. Two methods were employed. Each was devised to balance the other—a personal interrogation corps against a system of postcard ballots. We closed the tabulations four days before the election. The result was never published. It gave Harlan a lead of approximately 12,000. Dunne was elected by a plurality of 24,248.

The upset of a most elaborate statistical enterprise was not permitted to go unchallenged. It was important to determine whether the American was the victim of a casualty or a conspiracy. An intensive check-up was prosecuted. From that analysis a permanent guide was extracted. Its value was confirmed to me by kindred experiments in different communities in subsequent years. It directs the withholding of faith in the accuracy of any unofficial poll on moot matters.

Neither the form of the question propounded nor the range of individuals subjected to the questionnaire can exclude the deceptive factors produced by nuances of human nature. The defect cannot be cured by percentage allowances for changes of sentiment, by oblique approaches or by any of the stratagems yet contrived. The impasse is caused by an unascertainable volume of elements that temper the sincerity or adulterate the cooperation of the respondents. Among these unbalancing agencies are vague or illusory fears of private consequences, a desire for approbation, a recalcitrant perversity, resentment of fancied intrusion and a disposition to “outsmart the busybodies.”

On the Thursday following the election, Rafael R. Govin asked me to dine with him at the Congress Hotel. He was recognized as spokesman for the money behind Chicago’s streetcar systems. The securities were embraced in two corporations—the Union Traction Company and the City Railway Company. A protective committee acted for each. Govin was officially the chairman of one and unofficially the adviser of the other. The personnel of these bodies included Marshall Field, John J. Mitchell, Walter G. Oakman, Harlow N. Higinbotham, Norman B. Ream, P. A. B. Widener, Charles Steele, Oakleigh Thorne, Levi Z. Leiter, Nelson Morris, James B. Forgan, Ernest A. Hamill and Byron L. Smith. This was a roster that would sound like an organ recital at almost any bankers’ meeting. Also under Govin’s wings were the Chicago holdings of J. P. Morgan and Charles T. Yerkes. In his regular job as managing member of H. B. Hollins & Co., 15 Wall Street, New York, he represented the Widener-Elkins Syndicate, second to none in municipal railways banking.

Govin had singled me out, during my reportorial service on the Chronicle, as “the newspaperman who had made the most thorough study of the city’s transit problem.” We became dear friends. His dinner invitation was not unusual. But it was the prelude to what he described that evening as one of “the most momentous moves in American finance.” It was an offer to establish forthwith the municipal ownership of Chicago’s transit properties.

“Our people have become convinced that Chicago really wants to own its public utilities,” Govin said. “The sentiment of the community was expressed so clearly last Tuesday that we have decided to accept the verdict. This is not a sudden resolution. It is the result of conferences that were held during the campaign. The bitterness of the political agitation was beginning to dislocate confidence in other fields of investment. Our economic system can readjust itself to a definite program better than it can bear continued uncertainties. We had agreed that it was most important to get this question settled and to be prepared for the settlement.

“So now we are ready for an immediate liquidation of the municipal ownership issue. We have arranged a proposal so fair, so liberal and so sportsmanlike as to be safe from any possible suspicion. That is why I have invited you here tonight. As a chief executive of the newspaper that championed his cause and as a friend of Mr. Dunne you have been selected to submit our proposal to him. We have boiled it down to an irreducible simplicity.

“You are authorized to tell Mr. Dunne that we will turn over to the city of Chicago all our interests, lock, stock and barrel, on terms to be fixed by a board of appraisal of such a character as to be above any possible reproach. We nominate as members of that board, Former President Grover Cleveland, William Randolph Hearst and a member of the federal judiciary to be chosen by those two.”

Govin was accustomed to deal in hundreds of millions. The greatness of this transaction impressed him less than its collateral significance. Its completion would mark a historic milestone in the development of political economics. As for me—all sense of proportion merged into the superlative story. No feeling of individual responsibility oppressed me. The sovereignty of news frees its servants from inner shackles.

There was no dinner with Govin. Instead, there was a conference with the mayor-elect. Dunne had agreed over the telephone to see me as quickly as cabs and elevated railroads could get me to his home in Lakeview. My memory holds no interview more exasperating and disappointing. It was not my stint to debate municipal ownership. My task was confined to an explanation of the means for prompt fulfilment of the pledge on which Dunne had won his election. My views—if any existed—on the wisdom or folly of that program were never mentioned. Three hours of strenuous argument left only one conclusion. Dunne was vastly more interested in prolonging than in curtailing the controversial vitality of the platform which he had carried to its high-water mark.

Reiteration of one question dominated the presentation of my thoughts. “What message,” Dunne was asked, “will you have two years hence—at the next election—when the voters consider the outcome of your campaign promise?” The answer was repeated a dozen times. “Don’t worry,” it ran in effect. “I shall be in position to report satisfactory progress. I have my own ideas. I refuse to be swept off my feet.” At midnight, the hopelessness of my mission grown unmistakable, I bade Dunne adieu. I never spoke to him again.

Dunne’s course followed a classic pattern of American politics. His ambitions outran his performances. The extent and intensity of interest manifested in his candidacy for mayor of Chicago brought him a false perspective. The adulation of misguided friends and supporters conjured in his mind visions of the White House. Three years remained until the next presidential campaign. The municipal ownership issue had lifted him to national stature. It must not sink into the quiescence of a practical solution. It must be kept alive to sustain the eminence of his position.

A Homeric dose of exquisite irony was administered two years later, when Dunne ran for reelection. His slogan was “immediate municipal ownership.” He was defeated. That didn’t abate his rostrum ardor for the immediate conversion of public utilities into the public domain. His political path was paved with that pledge. He did reach the governorship of Illinois in 1913. Then his high aspirations came to rest on a shelf alongside Chicago’s mandate for municipal ownership.

There was little time for chagrin over the shunting off of a scoop, no matter how monumental, in the year 1905. The news throttle was wide open. A number of stories that broke in that period grew into newspaper traditions. One yielded me especial gratification. It recorded a contest between journalistic and police methods in the transcontinental pursuit of a fugitive murderer.

On Thursday, July 13th, the slashed and battered corpse of a young woman was found on the Arlington Golf Links at Belmont, near Boston. By nightfall, the authorities of a dozen states were on the lookout for her husband, John Schidlofski. It was learned that on July 12th he had bought railroad transportation from Boston to Los Angeles. The Boston American ascertained the numbers of two tickets sold to a man answering Schidlofski’s description. Superintendent Joseph E. Shaw of the Massachusetts Metropolitan District Police took charge of the official chase. He notified the proper agencies at all intersecting points of railways operating between the two coasts. Shaw felt sure he had laid an inescapable trap.

Observation had shown me that general notices elicited only routine or perfunctory responses. Schidlofski had a good chance to slip through Superintendent Shaw’s net. On the other hand, those unaccustomed to personal telegrams are put on edge by wires addressed specifically to them. A yeast of flattery raises a reciprocal importance between sender and recipient. On this theory, Walter C. Howey was assigned to obtain the full names of all train and Pullman conductors scheduled for westbound trips during the current week on trunklines running between Massachusetts and California. He was also to get the complete addresses of railroad baggage agents in the same area. Howey was a brilliant reporter. He rose in later years to managing editorships in Chicago, New York and Boston. To the list he compiled, forty-seven identical messages were wired. They read substantially as follows:



Thirty-six hours brought no reply. Meanwhile, detectives searching trains at Chicago, St. Louis, Kansas City and elsewhere found no trace of the hunted man. Apparently, he was outwitting all pursuers. Schidlofski had passed into the limbo of my forgotten efforts, when at 1:16 o’clock Sunday morning this telegram reached me:




The whale we had thought gone now suddenly hove into view, transfixed on the harpoon we had considered lost. Hurried study of time tables indicated that Pullman Conductor Kiser was aboard Train Number1 of the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad. Its next stop was marked at La Junta, Colo. There our gloating was cut short. The sole telegraph operator handling public traffic in La Junta had “shut up shop” for the night at nine o’clock. With our prey in sight, we were powerless to effect a capture. It would be criminal to let Schidlofski pass beyond La Junta without informing the nearest authorities. Probably alarmed by Kiser’s search, he might slip away at any moment. And his escape could then be charged to my intermeddling. Was my psychological experiment to cost me a season of nose-thumbing?

The Santa Fe Railroad owned and operated its own telegraphic system. Could it be persuaded to transmit a dispatch for delivery when Train Number 1 reached La Junta? Even if such a message were actually sent—in violation of prohibitory federal regulations —what could it accomplish? The Santa Fe would not forward to any of its employees from a mere journalist a direction to take into custody one of its passengers. The illegality of such a step was not the only obstacle. There were too many possibilities of damage suits and worse consequences from a false arrest.

No matter how unpropitious the prospect, it was my last recourse. The headquarters of the Santa Fe’s superintendent of wires was in Chicago. F. W. Keeler was in charge. It is gratifying to make this record of his cooperation. Possibly I was oversanguine about the rewards he might expect from the Santa Fe’s board of directors. At least, he gained the approval of his own conscience for risking his job to comply with “the most irregular and extraordinary request” of which he had ever heard. He turned over to the Chicago American a thousand miles of main wire. The line was looped from a sending instrument near my desk into the dispatcher’s office at La Junta.

It was my duty to compose such instructions as would bring about the desired action with a minimum of liability to the Chicago American. This was attempted in a series of telegrams that read in substance thus:










It is worth noting that nobody was asked to perform an individual act. Reliance was placed on the power of suggestion. A dash of mystery, mixed with a call for cooperation, makes a potent stimulant in the wide open spaces. It brought the fruition of my strongest hopes in the odd case of John Schidlofski. There was no waiting for a reply from La Junta. The Chicago American published a Sunday morning edition. It was in this issue that our scoop appeared under the streamer heading: “Schidlofski Found.” The story went to press before Santa Fe Train No. 1 had reached La Junta. It was printed verbatim within the hour in the Boston American, the name “Chicago” being changed to “Boston” wherever it occurred.

A marplot voided my enjoyment of the celebration that followed in a nearby restaurant for night-working journalists. He plumped a most untimely question. “What would happen,” he asked, “if that fellow on the train proved that he wasn’t Schidlofski, after all?” The query exerted on me all the virtues of an acute attack of insomnia. The late Sunday opening of newspaper wires prolonged its influence. Relief came in a brief special at noon. The man spotted by Pullman Conductor Kiser was actually the much-sought Schidlofski. When seized, he made a break for liberty. He was not recaptured until several shots had been fired. Then he made a full confession of the murder of his wife. The satisfaction this afforded me contrasted with the mortification it heaped on Superintendent Shaw in Boston.

Final report on the Schidlovski murder
The Sabbath had unloaded on him the vials of a concentrated journalistic wrath. The Boston Post, Globe, Herald, ]ournal, and Advertiser made a quintuple onslaught. They berated him for the Boston American’s scoop. In an endeavor to soften their rancor, he made an irreparable blunder. He denied that any newspaper was in any way entitled to any credit for the apprehension of Schidlofski. He insisted that the arrest had been made in accordance with his own well-laid plans and that it signalized their effectiveness. That was past toleration. The next afternoon, the Chicago American published an affidavit that I wired to Boston for simultaneous publication in the Boston American. It read in effect as follows:



Corresponding statements from the other members of the posse were accompanied by a deposition from the County Clerk of Otero County, setting forth that attested copies had been deposited in his files. As a sort of rivet for this clincher, W. S. Brons, the Chicago American’s wire superintendent, added a sworn testimony. It averred that he personally telegraphed all the messages that had gone to the railroad employees and possemen at La Junta and that he had witnessed their origin. Superintendent Shaw, discredited as a police official, became the butt of ridicule.

He died suddenly a short time afterward. Published details of the manner of his passing were meager. The feeling prevailed that it was of his own choosing. It set a damper on the glee of our victory. Several months after Shaw’s death, Schidlofski was electrocuted at Charlestown State Prison.

Chapter 11 Part 2 Next Week   
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Wednesday, October 11, 2017


Obscurity of the Day: Sweetie Pie

The NEA syndicate tried to keep their newspaper clients happy with an array of features, many of which fit into the "me too" classification. Their mostly small town and suburban newspaper clients wanted to look like the big papers, and that meant providing them with features that resembled those in the big leagues.

Sweetie Pie by Nadine Seltzer is a good example of that. The panel cartoon about a little girl premiered on April 19 1954, and it mimicked a number of features then doing well in major papers. First and most obviously, Sweetie Pie is a female Dennis the Menace. The art style owes a lot to Hank Ketcham, too. Other strips to which Sweetie Pie owes a debt are Jimmy Hatlo's Little Iodine, and Lucy van Pelt from Charles Schulz's Peanuts. Sweetie Pie does not succeed in its mission as well as any of these strips, but then an imitation is never as good as the original -- rather like 'artificial jewelry' as seen above.

Sweetie Pie did its duty for NEA but never managed to distinguish itself as anything more than what it was, a "me too". The daily panel ended on May 8 1965, and the feature was transferred to NEA's weekly pony service, Community Enterprises. There it continued to be offered for another whole decade, ending on April 4 1975. The weekly version may well have been reprints for all I know; vanishingly few papers ran it from the weekly service, so it would be tough to figure that out.

The intriguing aspect of Sweetie Pie isn't so much the feature itself but its creator, Nadine Seltzer. She has no other comic strip credits that I know of, so she has been a cipher to me until I chanced upon a 'life sketch' written about her by her daughter and her pastor. It sounds like the lady had quite a tough life -- her younger years read a little like a Grapes of Wrath tale, and it seems a small miracle that she apparently managed to get to Glendale College where she earned an art degree. When she began Sweetie Pie, though, a promo sent out by NEA has her stating that she was a self-taught artist, so that's a bit odd.

The real bombshell in the essay, though, is the statement that Seltzer did not draw the feature: "she was a cartoonist partner with the artist that drew Sweetie Pie, a popular daily panel that appeared in national papers in the 1950’s and 60’s. Occasionally Nadine would ink the artwork, but mostly she wrote the quippy caption." 

Why would someone with art training need a partner to draw the panel? Given the low rates paid by NEA, how would that even make economic sense? And most intriguing of all, who was this partner? I'm no art spotter, and I can't even take a wild guess as to who it might be. Although the art is not drop-dead gorgeous, it is certainly more than competent. Did Seltzer get some local pal to do the drawing, or did NEA assign someone to the task? 

Well, here's a nutty idea about who it might be. Did you happen to notice that the newspaper from which I took these samples credited not Nadine Seltzer, but Nadine Turner? I checked many other papers, and none I could find offered that version of the credit -- everyone else cited Nadine Seltzer. Seltzer also never to my knowledge went by that name. Is it possible, by some weird chance, that this paper was offering credit to the artist co-creator? NEA did have two artists working for them by the name of Turner -- Les Turner of Captain Easy and Dick Turner of Carnival. Could one of them have been supplying the art on Sweetie Pie to make a few extra bucks on the side? Realistically, probably not. Neither cartoonist worked in this style, though I don't doubt that either could have adapted to it if needed. No, the credit in that newspaper is probably just a mistake, a case of a typesetter getting confused and nobody catching the error. Still, who knows?


That paper you looking at doesn't read her signature to good, doesn't they!!!
I happen to have the first "Sweetie Pie" paperback in my collection.

It really IS a "me too". I wish I knew who really drew the feature, even though it was probably a staffer at NEA.

Ben Ferron
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Tuesday, October 10, 2017


Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Les Wathen

Ernest Leslie “Les” Wathen was born in Mount Vernon, New York, on July 22, 1895, according to his World War II draft card and the Social Security Death Index.

In the 1900 U.S. Federal Census, Wathen was the oldest of three children born to Ernest and Louise. Wathen’s father was an Australian emigrant who worked at a brewery. Also in the household were Wathen’s paternal grandmother and three aunts. The family lived in Mount Vernon at 214 Lincoln Avenue.

The 1910 census recorded the Wathen family on Cottage Avenue in Mount Vernon. Wathen’s parents worked in a millinery store.

According to the newspaper The State (Columbia, South Carolina), February 27, 1983, Wathen studied at the Art Students League in New York City.

The State said Wathen served in the Spanish-American War and World War I. Wathen signed his World War I draft card June 5, 1917. His home address was 115 Crary Avenue in Mount Vernon. He was a commercial artist at the McGraw Hill Publishing Company in New York City. He was described as tall and slender with blue eyes and brown hair.

Wathen’s mother was the head of the household in the 1920 census. In the household were Wathen, his two siblings and maternal grandparents. Wathen was an art director with a publishing house. They resided in Mount Vernon at 28 Urban Street.

The Sate said Wathen was a rotogravure editor for the Washington Post and Buffalo Courier Express. According to American Newspaper Comics (2012), Wathen drew In Our Hometown for the Washington Post where the strip ran from April 17 to October 9, 1921.

Wathen married Viola Frew on June 28, 1924. Their marriage was reported in the Buffalo Courier (New York) on the 29th. The paper said the newlyweds “are taking a motor trip in the east and will be at home after September 1, at No. 1 Elmview place.”

The 1930 census said Wathen, his wife and daughter Mary made their home in Lakewood, Ohio, at 1500 Bunts. Wathen was a salesman with a lithograph company. Ten years later, Wathen had the same job but a different address, 20695 Stratford Avenue in Rocky River, Ohio.

On April 25, 1942, Wathen signed his World War II draft card. His employer was Strobridge Lithograph Company at 1900 Euclid Avenue in Cleveland, Ohio.

Lakewood city directories from 1951 and 1958 listed Wathen as a Strobridge Litho division manager.

Wathen passed away February 25, 1983, in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, according to The State which published an obituary on the 27th. The paper said Wathen was an editorial cartoonist for Sun News and a member of the Cleveland Advertising Club.

—Alex Jay


Sun News would be the Myrtle Beach (SC) paper, lof of folks from Cleveland snowbird in that area.
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Monday, October 09, 2017


Obscurity of the Day: Doctor Funshine

In the 1960s there was a major push to get kids interested in science. Would have been nice if we had wanted to stimulate the creation of future scientists purely for the betterment of mankind, but mostly it had to do with beating those darn Commies into space. Whatever the reason, science was now being billed as cool and fun, and the image of the nutty professor was giving way at least a little to the image of scientists as blazing a bold path into the future.

Most social changes end up being reflected on the comics page, and the popularization of science was no exception, spawning features like Our New Age and Frontiers of Science. At the San Francisco Chronicle, Bill Weber came up with a feature that was much better suited to stimulating the imagination of the kiddies -- he got them directly involved. Doctor Funshine debuted there on December 10 1961, and featured science experiments that kids could do at home. It sported delightful '60s modern' art, a host who looked like an impish Albert Einstein, and really top-notch writing. Sometimes the science experiments were offered in a relatively straightforward manner, but the Doctor really shined when they were couched within a mystery or problem-solving tale, like the top example above. Having Doctor Funshine get out of traps via the creative use of science really brought the topic to life. Who knows, maybe the creators of the TV series MacGyver were SanFran kids of the 60s.

Weber's strip was originally carried only by the Chronicle, but eventually the decision was made that Chronicle Features, their syndication arm, would offer it to others. Doctor Funshine went national on February 10 1963, and picked up a modest but respectable number of clients. Strangely, the Chronicle itself stopped running the strip in 1964, though I can't imagine why. Maybe this was the writing on the wall that the strip was not going to make it, but it did run at least into 1966 elsewhere. The latest I've seen it is March 27 1966 in the Arizona Republic, where it had been demoted from the Sunday section onto a weekly kids' page.

I think Bill Weber's creation was absolutely delightful, but maybe it would have done better in some other form -- a book series, maybe? I guess it just wasn't flashy enough to compete against Peanuts and Beetle Bailey in the Sunday comics.


Back when my paper ran Doctor Funshine (The Philadelphia SUNDAY BULLETIN), I always thought of it as one of the lesser items in their large (three part) section, along with the ads, crossword puzzle and "Let's Sew!". If something wasn't an adventure continuity or shooting for a laugh, we kids suspected it might be some boring PSA or something good for you. Maybe a lot of others did too.
When i was in the business, things like Doctor Funshine were sold to editors convincing them to carry educational features to show they, and their papers were good citizens.
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Saturday, October 07, 2017


Herriman Saturday

May 14 1909 -- This is Peter Maier, the owner of the newly formed PCL baseball club, the Vernon Tigers. Vernon was at this time sort of a tiny spur city of Los Angeles, existing mainly because three railroad lines came together there. Although Vernon was small, it had one very big thing going for it -- the sale of liquor was legal there, unlike L.A. which was dry at the time. The city fathers of Vernon built a baseball stadium abutting Doyle's Tavern, formed a ball team, and sat back to watch the cash roll in. More on the Vernon Tigers here.

I have no idea what the deal is with Bolerio the horse. A team mascot?


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Friday, October 06, 2017


Wish You Were Here, from Hans Horina

German immigrant Hans Horina, who did a lot of cartooning for the Chicago Tribune in the 1900s, also did a lot of postcard work. Here is one he did for the J.I. Austen Company of Chicago; this one labelled on the reverse as A-282. This card was postally used in 1911.


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Thursday, October 05, 2017


King News by Moses Koenigsberg: Chapter 10 Part 3

 King News by Moses Koenigsberg

Published by F.A. Stokes Company, 1941

Chapter 10

Biggest Local News Story of the Century (part 3)

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A diverting glimpse into the inner workings of the Hearst organization early in my city editorship furnished the clue to a number of puzzles in subsequent years. The whimsicality of the incident sharpened its significance. James O’Shaughnessy became managing editor overnight. The day before, he had been a reporter on the morning edition. O’Shaughnessy was a gentleman of high character. Years later he was a popular figure in national advertising circles. He told me of his appointment with a sheepish grin. It was not of his choosing. In fact, it embarrassed him. He was blindly obeying instructions. The order had come from Mr. Hearst. As for his duties—he didn’t know where or how to start. He would have to rely on my guidance. Noon arrived before the mystery cleared.

O’Shaughnessy was appointed managing editor to avert trouble, fear of which had been planted in W. R. Hearst’s mind by Fred W. Lawrence, brother of the redoubtable Andrew M. The latter had been divested of authority over the evening paper. He was publisher of the Morning American. Fred, also shifted from the afternoon staff, was a sub-editor under Andy. He had not put aside his interest in the publication from which he had been transferred. Perhaps it was sustained by a sense of loyalty to Mr. Hearst. Maybe it was only an urticant disposition to meddle. Something of both may have entered into the dither he professed over the streamer in red ink across the top of the first page of the Evening American's last issue. It wasn’t the crimson type that caught Fred’s eye. That was a regular feature of the edition. It was the subject that excited his concern. The story involved the elopement of a Roman Catholic priest. His companion was the wife of Mike McDonald, a Chicago “gambling king” and underworld nabob.

The item came from a local press association. Its accuracy was not questioned. It was the display that jolted Fred into what was either the suffering or the simulation of a panic. The possible consequences were too dire to leave in the hands of the regular editor. Hearst was taking the waters at Mount Clemens, Mich. Fred got him on the long-distance telephone. The conversation began with a review of trying days they had experienced together in California. Fred, who had been a member of the San Francisco Examiner staff at the time, reminded his chief of the hectic ordeal that paper underwent because of the disapproval of a group of Roman Catholic leaders. He was afraid that even a worse situation confronted the Hearst dailies in Chicago. Fred painted a melancholy picture of the storm that was sure to burst in the morning.

W. R. Hearst

The impression this made on Hearst was indicated by his action. He instructed that somebody of good standing as a Roman Catholic, with a distinctively Irish name, be immediately installed as managing editor of the Chicago American. O’Shaughnessy fitted the description. His presence on the job would be the best answer to any criticism that arose. Of course, Fred Lawrence’s prediction failed. The day went by without a flicker of Roman Catholic anger. It was O’Shaughnessy who that night set Hearst’s misgiving at rest. He welcomed relief from the humbug into which he had been thrust. O’Shaughnessy found no pride in his one-day career as a managing editor. He didn’t enjoy serving as a “stall.” There were several lessons for me in his experience. One dealt with priority of access to W. R. Hearst’s ear.

My first face-to-face meeting with Hearst, a few days later, left me midway between a laugh and a gasp. It was in February, 1904. He was then a candidate for the Democratic nomination for the presidency. “The great white chief awaits you in the throne room,” announced W. S. Brons, whose numerous duties included secretarial service to visiting executives. Brons found a sly enjoyment in using the two phrases he had put together. “The great white chief” was a tribal offering of fellow-braves from California. It spread through the organization. It sparked a friendly banter as often as it streaked an unctuous sycophancy. “The throne room” was wholly ironic. It referred to a cramped cubby-hole, with a second-hand roll-top desk, a pine table and several unpainted chairs. The Chicago American's sanctum, it was the only inclosed space on a floor of 10,000 square feet on which the shouts of a hundred workers vied for hearing with the clatter of dozens of chattering typewriters, a score of clicking telegraph instruments and a battery of engravers’ planing and routing machines.

It is difficult to conceive an antithesis more marked than the contrast between the paltriness in that Spartan cell and the aesthetic tastes of its temporary occupant. Yet all of Hearst’s editorial offices, with the exception of the San Francisco Examiner, were similarly furnished for years. That was not his choice. It reflected efforts of lieutenants to show him how economically they operated. His preference was finally given effect by a revision of business policy. It was decided that the Hearst establishment should present a front more in harmony with the magnificences and magnitude of the owner’s aims. That would help to refute the assertions of impermanence made by hostile critics who pointed for proof to “a flimsy and shoddy set-up.”

The purpose of “the throne room” summons was never disclosed. “The great white chief” shook my hand in greeting, murmured, “Never mind, thank you; I must hurry to catch my train,” and moved toward the door.

“But, Mr. Hearst, what shall I do with this correspondence?” Brons asked in evident agitation, indicating a stack of papers on the table. “It has been accumulating for several days.”

“I’ll show you,” came the answer with an impish grin, as Hearst pushed the heap of typewritten sheets and unopened envelopes over the edge of the board into a waste-basket. “Don’t bother. Every letter answers itself in a couple of weeks.”

The hugeness of Hearst’s frame as he glided past diverted me for a moment from Brons’s bewilderment. There, on the toes of a dancing master, with the suppleness of a lightweight boxer, moved the biggest publisher in America—biggest physically and biggest in extent of operation. Did his brain match that great body? A decade elapsed before a satisfying answer came to this question. Meanwhile, there could be no doubt about the range of Hearst’s temperament. A fleeting contact had revealed a volatility at amazing variance with all the other signs of his nature. It betokened contradictions destined to challenge many of the world’s mightiest.

Hearst’s visits to Chicago were frequent that spring. He spent much time with “Andy” Lawrence, his chief factotum in politics in that period. Andy was handling preparations to capture the Democratic national convention in St. Louis in July. A number of state delegations, including Illinois’, had been instructed for Hearst. There was hope in some quarters that William Jennings Bryan would swing his own followers to the Californian’s forces. Bryan was deeply indebted to the publisher. Perhaps no other twenty men had contributed as much aid to the Nebraskan’s two campaigns for the presidency. In addition to great sums of money, Hearst had given the support of newspapers with the largest circulations in New York and San Francisco. On July 1, 1900, he inaugurated the Chicago American for the putative purpose of rallying the Middle West to the Bryan standard.

The activities of Hearst’s political advisers brewed a sour potion for me. My professional code prescribed “singleness of devotion to newspaper duty.” It required “complete independence from divergent accountability or commitment.” And every day Hearst was becoming more deeply involved in accountabilities and commitments divergent from my conception of newspaper duty. Selfish considerations gave force to ethical directions. Any impairment of my employer’s journalistic leadership might abridge possibilities of my own career. So, the bee that hummed presidential tunes in Hearst’s ear buzzed penitential notes in mine.

During the quarter of a century of my membership in the Hearst organization, I never wrote, nor did I ever direct the writing of, one article or story intended to advance Hearst’s personal ambitions in politics. I never assumed a duty that required advocacy of a partizan program. Whenever or wherever political matters arose in the sphere of my responsibility, they were assigned to an editor who received specific instructions to report directly to W. R. Hearst. The soundness of this course for me was emphatically affirmed when, at the end of twenty-five years, it qualified my reason for withdrawal from the Hearst service.

My adherence to that path was the fruit of an alliance between profound disgust for the chicanery of politicians and a passion for journalistic freedom from prejudicial bias. It was given point by a curious incident at the Democratic national convention of 1904. Handling the news staff at that gathering brought me one more fetid whiff of inside politics. Clarence S. Darrow had been chosen as the spokesman for Illinois to second the nomination of W. R. Hearst. We lacked an advance copy of his speech. All other efforts to get it having failed, the task fell on my own shoulders. The convention had taken a thirty-minute recess. The hall was half empty. Search discovered Darrow sitting alone in a dark corner. He was in a grouch too thick for talk. He wasn’t going to do any speaking that night. Why? The answer was up to John P. Hopkins, chairman of the state delegation.

Hopkins was a notable figure. Reputedly a millionaire, he had introduced kid-glove methods to the ward heelers of Chicago. They were awed by the silk hat from which he was inseparable. I found him beside the Illinois standard in conversation with a group including Roger C. Sullivan. It was Sullivan who gave the word “boss” its real meaning to the Central West. Hopkins was Sullivan’s foil. With other machine leaders, both had accepted the primary instructions for Hearst as a bitter pill. A few blunt questions hoisted the steam gauge. Hopkins sneeringly explained that the Illinois delegates, at a special caucus that afternoon, had elected Free P. Morris, of Watseka, their nominating spokesman. That left Darrow out.

Morris had openly opposed Hearst’s candidacy at a meeting of the Committee on Rules the day before. Now, his choice to speak for the man he flouted was a travesty on the will of the electorate. Morris was standing behind Sullivan. Addressing him, I asked: “How can you square what you did yesterday with what you are doing today? Isn’t this a trick against the voters who sent you here?” Morris’ tongue was not so ready as Hopkins’. “How dare you come into this delegation and insult its members?” demanded the gentleman who never forgot his silk hat. “Get out of here before you’re thrown out!” Mr. Hopkins’ face was a deep purple; Mr. Sullivan’s was a speckled white; and Mr. Morris’ an olive green. The surrounding crowd was agape.

Mr. Hopkins should not have been startled by the response. It was automatic. It was the universal retort of the challenged male from schoolboy to oldster. Whether the actual verbiage ran “Let’s see you try it,” or “I dare you to try it,” or “Come and do it yourself,” it slipped into the groove supplied by every language for such occasions. But this banality carried a cracker. It was a pledge to remain on hand to gather “all the facts to which the people of Illinois were entitled.” That put a crusher on Hopkins’ topper. Literally. It was a lamentable finish of a really fine specimen of lustrous headgear. Hurling his hat to the floor, Hopkins stamped on it. On the stage, the gesture would have been a comedy wow. Here in the center of a national convention, it was too ferocious to be altogether funny.

“I’ll drive you out of Chicago!” Hopkins roared.

The Chesterfieldian hero of “Hinky Dink” Kenna and “Bathhouse John” Coughlin was making a show of himself. The intensity of his rage should have daunted me somewhat. Perhaps it did. But an answer to his second threat came from the same mechanism that clicked off my reply to his first bluster.

“If you do, I’ll bid you farewell in the county jail!” was flung out in a voice that seemed too hoarse to be mine.

Andy Lawrence afterward asserted that he had saved me from serious injury. Perhaps my gratitude on that score was wanting. If any rescuing were needed when Andy rushed onto the scene, it was for Hopkins and his companions. They seemed on the verge of prostration. Apparently, they detected in me hostile potentialities beyond the range of my own cognizance.

Darrow made his speech. The Hopkins-Sullivan clique had planned to use him as a whipping boy. They detested Lawrence even more than Hearst. By humiliating Darrow they purposed to show Hearst that Andy’s pretense of controlling the Illinois delegation was mere buncombe. This schedule was broken up by an attack of cold feet. Kicking a silk hat has been known to induce such a seizure. Details of the episode were important to me chiefly as strands of the net that afterward entangled my most difficult problem in the Hearst realm.

It was at this 1904 convention that William Jennings Bryan exhibited his finest sample of political adroitness. Twice he had led his party to national defeat. Conditions were not propitious for a third trial. He must hold on to the reins without taking the risk of a ride. Let another jockey make a losing effort. The novice would be sure to handle his mount differently. He would discard the free-silver whip. He would finish far behind the marks set by Bryan. Then Democracy would be in better fettle to muster once more behind “the peerless leader.” The Nebraskan never dropped a stitch in the weaving of this program. He didn’t make the mistake of sponsoring an aspirant who might be nominated. Instead, he espoused the hopeless and innocuous candidacy of United States Senator Francis Marion Cockrell of Missouri.

Bryan did not ignore his debt to Hearst. He made what the publisher’s friends called “the left-handed finesse of a tender of payment.” At the end of his speech placing Cockrell in nomination, he added as if by way of postscript:

If it is the choice or wish of this Convention that the standard shall be placed in the hands of the gentleman presented by California, the man who, though he has money, pleads the cause of the poor; the man who is best beloved, I can safely say, among laboring men, of all the candidates proposed; the man who more than any other represents peace; make Hearst the candidate of this Convention, and Nebraska will be with you.

On the first roll call, 997 delegates being entitled to vote, 194 were announced for Hearst. On a later ballot he received 263 votes. That was the closest he ever approached to his life’s highest ambition. But he kept trying for the goal a dozen years after Bryan had ceased to be a real contender.

Millicent Hearst
The discord between the Chicago American’s “throne room” and its imposing owner was stressed by the girlish elegance of the brunette beauty who sat beside him. She was his bride of a year. Millicent, daughter of George L. Willson, “champion buck and wing dancer of America,” she was known to several members of the staff. They had written pleasant notices of her charm as one of the two Willson sisters, a theatrical team of moderate success. This was during the reign of the Gibson girl—that model of femininity in which was concentrated such glamor as no subsequent type has attained. Its creator, Charles Dana Gibson, idealized a woman above the average height. Millicent Willson’s admirers credited her with more points in carriage and feature than she wanted in stature to conform with this ideal.

Hearst’s political satellites had rejoiced over his marriage. The mantle of domesticity might serve as an armor against his traducers. They were myriad. Their energies were applied mainly to painting him as an unrivaled voluptuary. Some of their tales depicted him as a sort of Haroun al Raschid, combining within himself the distinguishing attributes of Lothario, Don Juan, Lovelace and other front-line libertines. One of the most persistent fictions included the name of a yacht on which he was pictured cavorting along the Nile with a hundred Broadway nymphs. But the role of a devoted husband did not silence Hearst’s detractors. It merely detoured the vehicles of their malice.

Chapter 11 Part 1 Next Week   
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