To be frank, this isn't a very impressive strip. The gags are OK at best, and the art looks like it was done by a teenager. The notable thing about Willie Hawkshaw is his name.
In 1905, as this strip was first seeing the light of day, Gus Mager was beginning work on his Monk opus, which would produce its most famous character, the simian detective "Sherlocko the Monk," in 1910. As Sherlocko's profile grew, the strip came to the attention of A.C. Doyle, the creator of Sherlock Holmes, who wasn't amused by the homage. When Doyle threatened legal action, Mager changed the name of his detective to "Hawkshaw." The strip achieved a deal of success, running until 1922, and is Mager's most famed creation.
So it certainly caught my eye when I came across another version of Hawkshaw the Detective, and I wondered how the two could have come to share the same strange appellation. Well, thanks to Don Markstein's Toonopedia, the mists have parted.
Both funny-page detectives took their name from a detective character in the stage play The Ticket of Leave Man, by Tom Taylor. Though Taylor achieved a good deal of success in his lifetime, he's best known today as the author of Our American Cousin, the play that was in production at the Ford Theater the night that Abraham Lincoln was assassinated.
Taylor's Hawkshaw was tremendously influential, delineating the Victorian detective archetype that Doyle would later refine and usurp for his famed creation. "Hawkshaw" would even enter the dictionary as a synonym for "detective," owing to the fame of both the stage character and Gus Mager's detective.
So here's Willie Hawkshaw, a missing link between the two better known sleuths, perhaps justly forgotten.