Jeremiah McDonald's magical A Conversation with My 12-Year-Old Self now has 7,000,000+ hits and climbing. If you want to reread our rave review of McDonald from four years ago, go here. That $2,000,000 didn't turn up, but it looks like he didn't need it anyway.
Shira Lazar interview with McDonald:
For smoothly edited CNN interview with McDonald, go here.
A letter from Popeye
Bela Zaboly (1910-85) drew Thimble Theatre with Popeye from 1939 until 1959 (with Tom Sims and Ralph Stein scripting). But Zaboly did occasionally do his own Popeye writing, as evident in this April 1942 letter.
Jeff Nilsson, who manages The Saturday Evening Post archives, is a specialist in American History, with graduate studies at the University of Wisconsin, University of New Mexico and Eastern Michigan University. He directs the project of digitally converting every page of the magazine's 190 years of issues. For his blog, go here.
Jeff Sypeck (Becoming Charlemagne) wanders around Philip K. Dick's Washington neighborhood, mentions the peculiar PKD synchronicity I experienced there and provides pictures of PKD's D.C. haunts. In 2008, I wrote about that mystical 1970 event here.
by Jeff Sypeck
“In Washington, summer is a horror beyond the telling of it,” wrote Philip K. Dick in his 1968 “Self Portrait,” echoing the more effable sentiments of sweat-soaked D.C. residents this week. Dick is so associated with California—he spent nearly his entire life there—that few science-fiction readers, and almost no Washingtonians, remember that in the late 1930s, the budding author and his mother lived in the Cleveland Park neighborhood, or that Dick’s three years here echo in his work.
Dick’s novel Puttering About in a Small Land, written in 1957 but published posthumously in 1985, views several D.C. landmarks through the gauzy lens of personal mythology. Despite his prolificity and unabashed weirdness, Dick craved mainstream success, and he grounds an early sequence in Puttering About, a realistic tale of infidelity and doomed postwar dreams, in actual Washington places: Rock Creek Park, Massachusetts Avenue, and the Tidal Basin, which a character imbues with her own anxieties:
To her the Tidal Basin and the trees had a mysterious quality; they kept the countryside here in the center of the city, as if it could not be completely suppressed. Actually she was afraid of the Tidal Basin; it was part of the lines and pools of water that had cut into the ground by the coast, the canals and rivers and streams; Rock Creek itself, and of course the Potomac. When she came near the Potomac she believed she had been removed completely away from the present; she did not accept the fact that the Potomac existed in the modern world.
In keeping with Dick’s real life, the action inPuttering About soon switches to California, but Washington remains a place of origin and a repository for obsessive memory. In the 1966 novelNow Wait for Last Year,Dick returns to Cleveland Park—naturally, by way of Mars.
A selection of cartoons by the great magazine gag cartoonist Reamer Keller (1905-1994), showing a color finish, a rough, a comic strip and two different situations illustrating the same caption. The chorus girls are from his 1958 boxed set of cocktail napkins, Misbehavior in the Human Female, satirizing The Kinsey Report.
This drawing shows how the fast-paced, prolific Keller could whip out a quick rough, usually doing 50 in a two-day period. Working with several gagwriters, he submitted to both little-known and major magazines, publishing over 22,000 cartoons between 1946 and 1966. His comic strip Kennesaw ran from 1953 to 1955. Ger Apeldoorn has a batch of Keller's Collier's cartoons here.
Death of Newspapers #25: Evolution of the daily comics page
August 12, 1926
We often read that Mutt and Jeff was the first daily comic strip (November 15, 1907), but how did the daily newspaper comics page of stacked strips come about? Bill Blackbeard and Martin Williams (in The Smithsonian Collection of Newspaper Comics) traced the evolution:
Weekday comic strips in black and white were initiated in the Hearst morning and afternoon papers across the country in the early 1900s. At first these were miniaturized versions of the Sunday strips… Some might appear for as many as ten successive weekdays, but that was accidental; the average frequency was three days a week, and the editorial purpose was to provide daily variety in strips, not daily duplication of the same features… On January 31, 1912, Hearst introduced the nation’s first full daily comic page in his New York Evening Journal, adding it to his other afternoon papers from coast to coast a few days later. Initially made up of four large daily strips, including Herriman’s Family Upstairs and Harry Hershfield’s Desperate Desmond (a continuing cliff-hanger), the Hearst page expanded to five, then six, and finally nine daily strips through the teens and early twenties. Other papers emulated the Hearst example, and by the 1920s the phenomenon was to be found in hundreds of newspapers around the country, fed by dozens of daily strips distributed by a multitude of small syndicates. From these early small syndicates emerged the giants of the thirties, such as Hearst’s King Features, Newspaper Enterprise Association (NEA), the Chicago Tribune New York News Syndicate, the Associated Press and United Features from United Press. By the 1930s, comic strips by the daily pageful and Sunday color section collections were to be found in most American and Canadian newspapers. --Bill Blackbeard and Martin Williams
December 20, 1940
May 30, 1953
The pages above show the increase of strips in the stack from six to eight to ten. Note the episode titles above strips in the 1940 page, later dropped to squeeze more strips into the stack. Today, Bill Griffith's Zippy continues the tradition of centering a title above each daily strip.