A Trip To The Friday Mail Bag Warehouse

Hey,
there !

Jump aboard…

Let’s head
on down that
lonesome road
a piece….

— we’ll turn
up the
tunes

… and see if we can
dig us up some
trouble at our
secluded and secret
world-not-so-famous
Muscleheaded
Science Lab and
Vintage Postcard
Warehouse atop
Mount Charlotte.

Listen –
I’m busy steering….

so, just flash
the guard
at the gate
your ID …

….. or somethin.

Well,
I don’t know
what you showed
him, but he sure got
that gate open quick.

I couldn’t hear what
he was sayin because
of my helmet, but he
sure looked excited.

Ahem.

If you look to your
left, you’ll see the
pier space where
we developed our
famous concrete boat
designs.

And if you look hard
as we pass the lake
you might still be
able to see what
remains of those
things —

— if the water
is clear enough .

We’re thinking
a lighter material
might be called for,
next time —

— maybe
papiermâché.

Our gantry for the
ill-fated
Muscleheaded
Rocket program
is to your right…….

— who knew that
combining Mentos
with Diet Pepsi
wouldn’t result in
enough propulsion
to lift a 200 ton
projectile?

And,
what a mess.

Oh well,
we’ve got enough
Mentos leftover for
Halloween, anyway.

Ahhhh,
here we are….

Prepare yourself to
behold the wondrous
mysteries that are the
Muscleheaded Warehouse .

Hand me
the keys, willya ?

Ummmm….

… whatdaya mean you
don’t have the keys ?

Didn’t I
give ’em t…….

Heh.

Reach around and
check the saddlebags —
there’s probably some
old post cards in there.

Oh good.

Well,
how about
we go cool
our jets with
a burger and a
large bag o fries
at the 5 Guy?

My treat.

!!! HOY !!!

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The Life And Times of Happy Hooligan

This is the saga
of a popular
comic strip
character,
somewhat of
a forgotten
footnote now,
but still referenced
from time to time
by folks in common
parlance who probably
don’t even know of
his existence.

His name was
Happy Hooligan,
and he was the
cartoon creation
of a turn of the
century illustrator
by the name of
Fredrick Burr Opper.

Opper worked for
the ‘New York American’
newspaper , part of the
influential Hearst chain,
and “Happy Hooligan”
became one of the first
popular comic strips
of the King Features
Syndicate.

It ran from
around 1900
until 1932 –

— only being
discontinued when
Opper could no
longer see well
enough to draw.

An interesting aspect
of this strip was that it
was the first regular
use of ‘speech balloons’ –

– which allowed more
clarity in comic strip
dialogs.

It (“Happy Hooligan”)
was also considered a
major influence in
the creation of
Charlie Chaplain’s
“Tramp”
character.

In the comic,
the protagonist,
Happy, was a
luckless hobo,
who, despite
the numerous
setbacks and
challenges
in his life,
always had a smile
and a positive outlook-

– in direct contrast
to his also indigent
siblings :
the snobby
Montmorency,
and the very pessimistic
Gloomy Gus.

And as you’ve
probably noted,
at least two of
these aptronyms
describing personality
types have been
carried over into
today’s vernacular.

Who said
you couldn’t
learn anything
from comics,
right ?

Today’s post
features a couple
of ‘magic’
postcards
and some
Valentines –
from around
1905, 1910
or so….

all featuring
our old friend
Happy Hooligan.

Enjoy !!!

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Blind About Dating

medusaI was talking to a
gym buddy about
his personal life,
and somewhere
along the line
he brought up a
subject that I didn’t
even know they were
still doing……..

Blind dating.

Hmmmm….
very ‘old school’
if you ask me…..war

(aughhh,
I really hate
that expression)

It’s kinda a
strange deal,
doncha think?

Sure, you got all
kinds of digital dating
and sexting these
days, where you
basically know everydate
detail (up and including
nipple size, probably)
about another person
before you show up to
actually consummate
your first face to face
meet and greet.

And if it’s for dinner,
maybe I should use
the word ‘consomme’,
ya know…
soup to nuts.

But agreeing to
date somebody sight
unseen, without anya1
previous contact or
introduction, simply
because the person
in question is an
acquaintance of your
crazy second cousin ….

You just show
up at a placeblinddate
—cold—
without a clue of:
what they
think like,
look like,
smell like,
dress like,
talk like
or even
what they like ….

what you’ll think
of them,
or what they’ll
think of you….

— well,
the more grotesqueblinddate
potentials of that
scene really
creeps me out,
and I mean goose-
bumps-creepy.

I frankly don’t know
why anyone would
do it that way.

Courage
or crazy.

And so when
he said that he’d
recently gone
on one of theseblinddate
things…….

I realized that I didn’t
have a clue about the
ins and outs of the
whole blind dating
phenomena –

and really,
after having asked
a dozen or so
stupid questions,
I still don’t.

I might as well
have been writing
a blog post on the
more complicated
aspects of “Anti
DeSitter-Conformal
Field Theory “.

Exceptin’
that I’m not gonna.

But I did find some
funny cartoons and
stuff, so there’s that.

!!! HOY !!!

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Not Krakatoa, Karaktus

Keeping up appearances
was a very important
cultural imperative to
folks in the early 1900’s.

It may seem,
today,
that any artist
would shudder
at the thought
of creating hundreds
of pieces without the
ability to take credit
for them…..

But, we can certainly
understand why an
artist back then might
be very careful …

The clearest
example that
I can point to,
is in the case of
“King of Saucy
Postcards ” Donald
McGill, whose very
funny double-entendre
postcards generated
an awful lot of drama
and aggravation for him,
up to and including
an obscenity prosecution
(more like persecution)
in his native country
of Britain.

So, many artists chose
to veil their identities
behind pseudonyms,
which have kept things
calm on the home front,
but makes identification
of their work very
difficult for today’s
collectors.

Today, I offer a
prime illustration
( if you will…. )
of this principle —
the postcard creations
of one ” Karaktus “,
an artist doing work
for the Crown Publishing
Company in St. Albans,
England around the
turn of the century.

I have known several
individuals who insist
that Karaktus was a
well known illustrator
who also did cards
under his own name —
Fred Spurgin.

I’m a fan of his work,
and Karaktus’s, as well.

I just don’t see enough
similarities to say the
two people were one
and the same.

And nobody else has
been able to find out
just who Karaktus was.

( If you’d like to compare
the work of the two
yourself, see one of my
posts featuring Fred
Spurgin art here

It’s a mystery that
probably never
will be solved.

But, at least we can
enjoy his cards,
remembering,
of course,
that being an artist
isn’t always as easy
as it seems.

!!! HOY !!!

Early American Comic Postcards – Arthur Livingston

Today,
we feature some
early American
postcards from
around the
turn of
the century.

These were
published by
one of the
original postcard
printing companies
to spring up after
the United States
Postal Service
relinquished it’s
monopoly on
postcard production
in 1898, with the
passing of the
“Private Mailing
Card Act”.

Of course, there had
been English postcards
since 1840,
and the American
Postal Service had
been printing them
since 1873,
(exclusively)
but after the Act,
there was not
only a boom in
demand, but also
in printing companies
wishing to bring their
own creative designs
to market.

The Arthur Livingston
Publishing Company
was one of these –
their first card designs
were developed in
1897- in anticipation
of the Act being passed.

They became known
very quickly for a set
of cards depicting
scenes relating to the
Spanish-American War.

A good variety of cards
were featured by the
company in the 10 short
years of it’s presence on
the market–

— with subject matters
ranging from :
warships, scenic views,
souvenir and patriotic
themes, photographic
and art cards —

produced first by
black & white
halftone lithography,
and then-
in monotone,
and color process.

They also published
many sets of
color comic cards,
including the series
that we feature today,
which were manufactured
in the last few years
of the company’s
postcard production.

They have a very
interesting style,
wouldn’t you say ?

One can see why
they were popular
with the early 1900’s
postcard buyers — 

— although their
rather distinctive
looks quickly made
them seem kinda
old fashioned, and
most of the cards
were discarded
over the years.

We’re happy to 
have found some
survivors –
and to be able
to share them,
more than 110 years
after they were first
produced.

!!! HOY !!!

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Li’l Folks

I’m a Snoopy fan
from way back.

I consider Charles
Schulz not only a
pioneering cartoonist
but a genius at
exemplifying the ins
and outs of human
nature in his
characters.

And some of these
characters seem to
have an interesting
history of their own.

Three years before
the first “Peanuts”
cartoon strip
appeared,
Schulz was drawing
a weekly strip for
the St. Paul Pioneer
newspaper called
” Li’l Folks ”  —

— starting in 1947,
which featured a
few characters
that seem very familiar
indeed.

Schulz’s strip soon
gained popularity,
and in 1948, the
Saturday Evening Post
published 17 pieces
of his work.

This led the artist to
approach the influential
United Feature Syndicate,
which distributed comic
strips to hundreds of
major newspapers…

United Features agreed
to carry a new daily
Schulz comic –

— but since there
was already a national
comic called
Little Folks“,
to avoid confusion ,
the Syndicate
decided to use a
name derived from the
Howdy Doody TV show
that was popular at the
time –
Peanuts ” —
( as in ‘Peanut Gallery’ ).

Schulz didn’t like the
name – he considered
it meaningless and
irrelevant to the
characters- but the
success of the strip was
almost instantaneous.

And while the
kids in “Li’L Folks”
were nameless,
and the kids in
” Peanuts ”
developed
not only names
but distinct personalities
as well; one can see how
the 1947 strip represented
a fertile germination period
for Schulz, and paved the
way for characters like
Charlie Brown
and Snoopy.

I hope you enjoyed
this peek into their
pasts.

If you’d like to see the
whole set of strips from
1948-1950, check out a
book published by the
Schulz estate called
Li’l Beginnings”
by Derrick Bang .

!!!! HOY !!!

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Note: Any and all copyrighted works, trademarks, and brand names featured in this post fall under the “Fair Use” provisions of U.S. Copyright Law, Title 17 and remain the property of their respective owners.

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