I just visited Allan Holtz's site, "Stripper's Guide," and discovered that comics historian Bill Blackbeard died on March 10th. Earlier this month someone told me about his death, but I was distracted and the news didn't register. When I read about it on Holtz's site I was shocked, as if hearing it for the first time. Blackbeard was the the author of "The Smithsonian Collection of Newspaper Comics," an indispensable book which almost single-handedly revived interest in old newspaper strips. Several years ago I spent an afternoon with Bill and was much, much impressed. The man will be sorely missed.
Incidentally, I'm sorry for the incomplete dramatic redo of the comical newspaper template above. I just encountered a problem that prevented me from finishing it.
If it seems familiar, that's because it is! The look is copied from Al Capp's "L'il Abner!" Is the artist, Baldy Benton, responsible or did the Post Syndicate tell him to do it? I don't know.
Here's "Fables and Puzzles" from 1903. It wasn't at all clear at the time that newspaper comics should take the form of serial drawings with word balloons. A number of artists tried this approach (above) with dense captions.
Here (above) the same artist tries again, this time with serial drawings and reduced captions.
Here's (above) a beautifully drawn strip from 1903 called "The Interfering Idiot." The artist was Raymond Shellcope. I imagine that poor Shellcope couldn't come up with a regular character the public liked, so was consigned to the trash bin of history.
Here's (above) a postcard that Shellcope sent to a friend. The drawing is Shellcope's. How do you like the beautiful penmanship?
All the drawings on this post were stolen from Allan Holtz's excellent blog, "Stripper's Guide."