This week, I look at a real obscurity from seventy-five years ago, “Here And There” by John Rosol.
Rosol was a commercial cartoonist who did gags for a number of clients in addition to advertising. His specialty subject was cats, or perhaps I should say cat. A certain fat, black cartoony specimen appeared constantly in his work by himself or multiples of same if a group were needed. The cat was often seen in Rosol’s 1930’s Saturday Evening Post cartoons, some of which were collected in his book, “Cat of Five Tails” (1944).
In the world of syndicated strips, he did only two I know of. One was The Boy and the Cat, starring a very young boy and that very cat. It was for the Philadelphia-based Ledger syndicate, which in its twilight was trying desperately to get new titles out there. Rosol’s effort was barely syndicated, and lasted little more than a year in 1939-41.
The other was Here and There. This was a step up in syndicating power. You couldn’t go with a bigger outfit than King Features, but we don’t hit the mark every time, either.
This title had no set cast. It was somewhat like the earliest comics, a large scene, a tableau if you will, where many busy things go on at once and the reader finds each one to see a small gag, all fitting the theme of the overall picture. It had a novel aspect though, in that most of these scenes were outdoors, and featured various spots where advertising could be inserted. Billboards and signs shown could have real-life ads for local merchants on them. The series was part of what we call the Weekly Service Package, usually used by small town newpapers that published once a week. There were thousands of these enterprises up until fairly recently. There were even syndicates that produced nearly exclusively for this market like Western Newspaper Union (”WNU”) and the Publisher’s Autocaster Company. As a rule, most of these weeklies printed on Thursday, but Here and There was given Sunday dates. I don’t believe color plates were offered though. I could be wrong. It’s a mysterious series.
Not very successful either, that adds to its mystery I guess. It appears Rosol had a one-year contract because I can find the feature only in January to December 1941. There seems to have been some interest in several cities for the feature when it started, but the takers start thinning out fast, and after the early Summer, hardly any keep it. Some even rerun the same cartoon, just as you might with any ad. On the edge of the panel, Rosol had a quick read, four-word story strip called Picture Poetry, which obviously required some effort to write so it would make sense, yet many papers cut it off and just ran the main cartoon. Some tinkered with the name of the series, incorporating the name of an advertiser.If your space is for sale, you don’t get much respect.
Here are a few examples. Look for the cat/cats to pop in any time. too.
And last but not least, our Mail Bag for this week:
To Katherine Collins-
In all my years crawling this weary orb, I have never heard the name of Buster’s dad pronounced as anything but Owt-kawlt.
Winnie Winkle must have been more efficient – she was on the job thirty-seven years after Tillie and Mack retired
That Archivist Cat.