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 !!!

.

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 !!!

.

Saturday Car Post

My longtime friend
Carolyn suggested
that we talk about
her two favorite
cars today….

……. VW’s
and Corvettes.

So,
let’s do dat:

The first Chevy Corvette
was introduced in 1953,
at the GM
Motorama –
a sort of annual
travelling
car show….

Motorama also
featured other
new vehicles that
year, like the:
Buick ‘Wildcat’,
Pontiac ‘La Parisienne’,
Oldsmobile ‘Starfire’,
and two new Cadillac
models ‘Orleans’,
and ‘Le Mans’.

( I did a post on the
original C-1 Corvette,
and that can be
found here. )

There have been 7
generations of
Corvette made
since then –

it was originally built
in Flint, Michigan and
St. Louis, Missouri,
but in 1981, production
was moved to a
dedicated Corvette
plant in Bowling Green,
Kentucky, where they’ve
been manufactured
ever since.

Not surprisingly,
the Corvette was
selected as the official
sports car of the
Commonwealth of
Kentucky.

Only one year has
the line not had
some kind of update –
and that was in 1983,
when the introduction
of the 4th Generation
Vette was stalled with
quality and production
set backs.

Only 1 car bearing a
1983 VIN still exists,
a prototype, displayed
at the Bowling Green
Museum.

But there have been
over 1.5 million Vettes
produced over 65
years — a pretty strong
record !

The Corvette has also
been the pace car for
the Indianapolis 500
a number of times —
14, to be exact.

Now,
you might think
that Corvettes
and VW’s
have little
in common,
until you realize
that Ferdinand
Porsche , famous
German race
car builder,
was involved
in the original
“VolksAuto”
design –
that car evolved
in the “Volkswagen”,
or people’s car.

Although most
of their line
is completely familiar
to Americans,
especially the “Beetle” ,
— one of their
best cars is virtually
forgotten —
the Type 14
Karmann Ghia. 

And of course,
we’ll have to
do a post
on those cars
in the very
near future —

because they strongly
influenced automotive
design well into
the late 1960’s.

.

PS: I know there’s precious little Beetle coverage, here, but I’d look pretty crazy driving one, anyway. 😀

!! HOY !!!

The Ins and Outres

If you know
anything about
this here Muscleheaded
Blog, you know that I love
to mind-meld with my
friends here on WP and
swap (swipe) their ideas.

Of course,
after we’re
done with it around
here, they may not
even recognize their
idea anymore.

So we always
make a point
of crediting
( embarrassing )
them with a little
recognition for what,
before we got a holt
of it, anyway, was a
perfectly sane and
creative idea.

Jules
this one
is all
your fault.

Ahem.

Today, we look at
the many levels of
what makes us
laugh —

– from a secretive and
subtle tee-hee much
favored among the shy
inhibited type –
( inhibitions are like
putting cheez-whiz
on a steak  )

– to a mild titter –
(who could
argue with
a little titter
once in a while )

– and the semi-muffled
guffaw –
( some misunderstandings
might occur, depending
on the source of the
aforesaid muffling )

– through the unabashed
cackle –
( I knew a girl once that
could cackle so loud it
could hard-boil an egg )

– all the way up to the
full belly laugh –
(which isn’t all that
good for your
digestion right after
meals, especially steak
nachos with cheez-whiz. )

Now, while you
might wonder
what all these
cheez-whiz references
have to do with our
subject today ,
and clearly,
none,
other than a memory
of recent nightmarish
visit to Pat’s Steaks
with a distant relative
during a road trip ……

…. why anyone would
do THAT to
an otherwise
(barely) acceptable
“steak-um” with
sauteed onions
and peppers
is beyond me.

Funny?

Well, try to visualize
a very large drunk
person eating a huge
steak sandwich while
dripping bright
orange colored 
artificial cheese
all over his new
official Eagles
football jersey and
you might acquire the
image that I’m stuck
with the rest of my
natural life.

I think that’s the
kind of humor they
call ‘ droll ‘ .

Still, there’s plenty
of other choices for
things to laugh at
if you’re not into
droll trolls drooling…..

I’m a fan of slapstick 
humor,

( A girl I used to know
named Donna used to
do a version of that
whenever she was mad
at me, but it didn’t seem
very funny to me …. )

as long as it
doesn’t involve
permanent damage to
the spinal column
or two months in a
penile splint .

Stuff shouldn’t be
forced to bend in
certain ways, so just
try to keep your
taqaandan practice
to a minimum.

I dunno if you’d call
that reference an
example of ‘jocular’
or ‘side-splitting’
humor……

Lost, yet ?

Ah well….
this blog is a good
example of another
kind of humor —

what my Aunt Sarah
used to call waggish

by which she meant
that nobody else ever
got my jokes, and that
I was simply amusing
myself.

She was so wise,
that lady, that I
wanted to marry her
when I was young…..
but she wouldn’t wear
that purple teddy
I bought her.

Alright —
that, there is called
outré humor….
and refers to jokes
that might shock folks
because they fall outside
normal propriety .

Yes, we really do like
that stuff around here.

Which points as straight
as an arrow to why we
chose the cards we did
to go along with our
little head trip today.

Enjoy.

!!! HOY !!!

.

Friday Friday Friday Mailbag

It’s so good
we had to
repeat it
3 times….

Yes, it’s the
Friday Friday Friday
Mailbag.

Considering
we’re not
prone to
exaggeration
around here …

( not much )

You know it’s
just gotta be
good enough
to make you
wanna skip
the novena
and
start a brand
new bad habit
of some kind.

(Everybody
needs a vice
now and then. )

Just ” don’t slap
your mamma. “

I don’t understand
that expression.

Cause she would
kick my ass if I
tried that.

But I don’t think it’s
supposed to be
taken all that
literally, anyway.

It’s just another
one of those things
vapid people with
limited vocabularies
say when they’re
trying to sound
overwhelmed with
rhetorical enthusiasm.

Like:

” This BBQ is so good 
it makes ya wanna 
slap your momma. “

All I know, is it’s
awful hard to eat
ribs when your
teeth have been
slapped in
by a mad mother.

Take my advice –

Don’t get
those mothas
mad at you,
man.

.

!!! HOY !!!