Thursday, January 21, 2016

Diving For Gold

Thursday Story Strip Day.

I added a third sample, by the way.

Here is an oddity. I bought this four page leaflet on Ebay, where it was advertised as some sort of advertisement for a new comic strip. But since I can find no evidence of any strip by this name ever appearing in newspapers, I am sure this is a sales leaflet for a proposed strip that never materialized. With all the strips that were sold around and the many more that were offered but remained unsold it is weird not more of these sales aids survived. In all my years as collector I have seen something similar only twice. There was one David Parks showed me via Skype of his father Dwight Parks' proposed philosophical bum strip. I used parts of that for my article on Parks taking over the 1958 strip Betsy and Me from Jack Cole in Hogan's Alley a couple of years ago. And then there was the two page newspaper print of the first four three tier gags of Howard Post's Dropouts, which I showed on this blog some time ago. Although it seems to me that one may have been made after it was sold - to get even more papers.

There were two phases in selling new strip. First you have to make a proposal for the syndicate. Some artists did this by themselves, others used an agent. I know of many samples of these, some by big names. If a syndicate is interested they often ask for a Sunday and two or three weeks of dailies. If they accept it, their representatives go around the newspapers to show the strip. This is when a brochure such as this could have been made. Each one will have been different, but some care will have been taken to make it look good. In this case, including the newspaper ads seems like an extra touch - not something that was really meant to be used right away. It's like: we're ready to go, are you?

So who are the artist and the writer? I tried to find as much as I good and that wasn't a lot. In the end, the information in this brochure is more complete than anything I can find online. The name of the writer is too common to be of any help. Ed Wilson seems to have been in advertising and sadly I have not yet found any advertising executive lists online, so I don't even know which bureau or type of ads he worked on. Craig Pineo is slightly more known. He can be found on the internet as a children's magazine and book illustrator, working in the Golden Book style, completely different from this. He is mentioned as one of the two artists working on the Mary Poppins book from the movie, which was illustrated with photo's and art (and which I used to have in Dutch as a small child). I also found one of his christmas cards, which I included below. In his description here he indicates that he worked in advertising strips, which I could have come across him in one of my many posts about that genre. Still I don't recognize his style. So did he do those advertising strips in this realistic style or did he use his children's book style? His work here on Finn Fathom suggests that he at least got some training somewhere, because it is quite accomplished.

All I can say is, if there is anyone out there with any more of these syndicate leaflets, please come out and share them with us. Also, any information on Craig Pineo and Ed Wilson is appreciated.

But wait, there is more. It seems that the syndicate that produced this leaflet never ever got off the ground or at least didn't sell any strips. The name Associated Newspapers had been around much earlier in the thirties. And there may even have been a connection, albeit a strange one. There is also an adress in the leaflet, 229 West 43rd Street in New York. This was also the adress of the Bell-McClure syndicate and teh North American Newspaper Allience. One of the editors of this syndicate (and a director of NANA) was Joseph P. Agnelli, who was also involved in the earlier Associated Newspapers from the thirties. In the leaflet, head of The Associated Newspapers is Joseph B. Agnelli. So it seems entrely possible to me that Finn Fathom was an effort by a relative of Joseph P. (possibly his son) to branch out on his own, maybe with a preposal that was rejected by Bell-McClure. Anyway, it naver came off the ground and neither did The Associated Newspapers.


Diego Cordoba said...

Excellent discovery, though I think this was quite common. Countless artists wanted to sell their own strip. However this one went all the way to creating a leaflet to show around different newspapers, so it must've been an "almost there" attempt by someone running some sort of syndicate.

The artwork doesn't look like anyone in particular, but you might find some glimpses and similarities to many different artists at the same time.

Anyone remember the attempt Michael Fleischer and Russ Heath made to sell Jonah Hex as a newspaper strip? I saw a beautiful Sunday original by Russ Heath, but someone outbid me.

comicstripfan said...

Interesting story from comic strip/syndicate history.

Ger Apeldoorn said...

I think the Jonah Hex sunday is in the recent book made for a Spanish exhibition. Or did I see it when Mr. Heath showed it to my for my visit in 2008? I don't know if this is what you suggest Diego, but these presentation piece were made by Syndicates regularely, so I don't think the artist shelled out the money himself. On the other hand I have to wonder so few survived.