Saturday, March 12, 2022

Dancing Line

Saturday Leftover Day. 

So here is my big find for this year. Last year I came across some late thirties advertising work by Harry Haenigsen in a completely different style from the stiff and blocky Penny and Our Bill style that made him famous. So famous even, that from 1947 or so Dik Browne adopted elements of that style for most of his work for the Johnstone and Cushing company where he worked between 1945 and 1953 (before taking on Hi and Lois with Mort Walker). In fact, he so loved that style that in his first efforts at doing an ad for Hi and Lois, he imitated Haenigson a bit too much and Mort Walker had to instruct him to doi it again in his own style.

But the new Haenigsen stuff I found, showed that the earlier Dik Browne style for Johnstone and Cushing (where he went to work directly after leaving the army) was influenced by Haenigson as well. I had assumed that it wsas his 'own' style that was later influenced by Haenigson because some client asked for a Penny rip-off. It even made me wonder if Haenigsen himself wasn't present at Johnstone and Cushing in those first post-war years, setting the style for Browne to follow. An improbable assumption because he had two succesful Sunday strips and a daily at the same time. But stylistically it would explain a lot.

Anyway, I wrote up an article about it all for Hogan's Alley #23, which is dropping in subscriber's post boxes these weeks. The coincide with that I have been showing more of the material that I used for that article here. But I have something extra up my sleeve as well...

After sending off the article, I came across a 1936/37 daily feature Haenigsen did for the Times-Record News from Wichita Falls in Texas (at least, that's my source for it). It has no syndication stamp, so I don't know if it appeared in other papers as well. It almost must have. I mean, Wichita Falls?

The strip itself, which was done for more than a year, was a satirical two tier thing about daily situations. It had a regular hero of sorts, a simple hardworking man, who never was named not given a private live. Some of the gags have the 'statement and answers' format that Al Feldstein used in the later magazine Mad. In fact, these are the earliest samples of that format I ahve ever seen - although it is imaginable it was used in some magazines before that as well.

But as interesting as it is, the most significant part is of course that it is yet another sample of an precursor of a Dik Brown style. Elements of it are visible in Haenigson's advertising work in the late thirties and early forties - and therefore in Dik Browne's earlier jobs. But there is also an even simpler element, that makes some of the 1936 Haenigsen characters look as if they come from the background of Browne's later Hägar the Horrible. Which would make his influence on Browne even bigger than I even imagined.


Allan Holtz said...

This would seem to be the continuation of the untitled feature I list in my book as "Haenigsen Cartoons", which began with Press Publishing in 1924. The latest I'd seen it before is 1931. But although it has gained a consistent title here (and in the Ottawa Citizen, where it is also found) the large format and vaguely news-oriented gags might mean it is the same feature, still soldiering on with hardly any clients.

--Allan Holtz

Ger Apeldoorn said...

Wow. Sadly, without the title, it is very hard to find. Do you have a paper name (other than the Ottawa Citizen)?

Allan Holtz said...

It ran in the New York Evening World 1924 until that paper ended in 1931. As far as I know it did not continue in the World-Telegram.

Ger Apeldoorn said...

Thanks. If I remember correctly The World is not an online accessible paper.