How, indeed? Even though this strip isn’t going to win any prizes for stellar cartooning, I have a soft spot for the cartoon convention where the same punchline is used in every strip. It’s funny more than it isn’t, and it brought home the bacon for John Arnot for a few years, anyway. Check out the full archive for a charming, if low-rent, feature.
Whew! Over the past week, I’ve completely overhauled the Everett True archive in the Comic Supplement. It was a gargantuan task, bordering on insanity, but it seemed the least we could do for a fellow who’s been so good to us for so long.
I went through every paper I could find the strips in, from its debut in 1905 up to the month-long hiatus in 1909, and pulled every comic in the best condition I could find. This meant downloading and comparing thousands of images to select the five hundred that made it to the archive. This task was compounded in difficulty by the haphazard publishing of early comic strips. There were no firm publication dates or sequences; editors would receive packages of strips to publish according to their own whims. This meant that no cranny could remain unsearched, as some small paper from Muskogee might have a strip that was never published in any of the other scanned papers. Search them I did, and I’m pretty proud of the results. There are some that are in poorer condition than I’d like, but they were the best I could find, and there aren’t too many that are in really terrible condition.
We’re posting a dozen favorites from each year on our Twitter feed, so if you’re not over there, be sure to follow us and join in on the fun.
I’ll also note that, after a week in the weeds, my eyes are a little crossed. I think I’ve done a good job at avoiding duplicates, but if you come across any strays, please comment here to let me know!
I get the distinct impression that this short-lived feature existed only to show off Mr. Bushnell’s dab hand at rendering ostriches! Frankly, I don’t blame him. If I could draw ostriches so well, I don’t think I’d do much else. The gags all play off of the weird impression that people had regarding ostriches’ appetites. They had the notion that ostriches, like goats, would eat literally anything, including (even especially) metal! I’m reminded of the vaguely ostrich-like protagonist of Charley Bowers’ stop-motion classic It’s a Bird.
Enjoy the short but sweet run of Oolo at his new home in the Comic Supplement!
Today we add Seein’ Stars, by Feg Murray. Before embarking on decades of cartooning, he was an athlete, winning the Bronze Medal in hurdles at the 1920 Olympics! He did a similar feature focusing on sports stars before turning his sights to Hollywood in 1933. Seein’ Stars would go on for decades, featuring an array of stars from Hollywood’s Golden Age. We have the first four weeks up today, with a cavalcade of stars, including Myrna Loy, Charlie Chaplin, Jean Harlow, Fredric March, Clara Bow, Katharine Hepburn, Harold Lloyd, Loretta Young, Joan Blondell, and even Mahatma Gandhi!
Charlie Chaplin’s Comic Capers is not a great strip.
This is a fact which is difficult to reconcile, as it was an intersection of two lions of comedy. The strip was launched in March of 1915, and it was clearly never given much thought beyond attaining the license. The character bears little resemblance to the Chaplin we love from the movies, and the cartoonists given the assignment were not very good. Just how little they cared about the production of the strip is shown by who they hired to take it over in 1916: an absolute nobody named E.C. Segar.
Segar would develop into one of the all-time legends of the funnies, but Thimble Theater, Sappo, and Popeye were still years away at this point. The 21 year old kid just wasn’t fully baked in this, his first comic outing. Still and all, it’s a part of both his and Chaplin’s story, so it has inherent value and it’s worth taking a look.
The strip isn’t terrible, by any means, but just don’t get your hopes up for a magnificent merger of brilliant comic minds.