Sunday, April 17, 2016

Romancing the Bushrangers

    

[1] Ironclad Ned Kelly.

We have no hesitation in saying that the life of Ned Kelly, the Ironclad Bushranger, is as disgraceful and disgusting a production as has ever been printed. Lord Campbell’s Act recognized the moral mischief which might be done by publications which offend against common decency, and provided for the condign punishment of the scoundrels who write print and sell them — they are, as the annals of the police courts prove every day, direct incentives to murder and robbery… “Penny Dreadfuls,” in Saturday Review of Politics, Literature, Science and Art, Nov 26, 1881

The Otago Witness reports that the Salvation Army in Dunedin recently held a “novel-burning night,” which attracted a large army to the fortress. In the center of the ring on a bier were placed “yellowbacks” of all kinds, ranging from “Bluecap the Bushranger” to some of Besant’s works. Barrier Miner, Broken Hill, NSW, March 30, 1894

THE FIRST PENNY NUMBER of Ned Kelly, the Ironclad Australian Bushranger was published in the month of July, 1881, by the London Novelette Company. By November the penny numbers had “attained an immense circulation.” The subsequent collection of bound penny numbers was preceded with fake quotes of praise from the Times, the Telegraph and the Press. Other bound copies survived published by Alfred J. Isaacs and General Publishing Company. All three publishers seem to have been one and the same. The author of the serial was unnamed but an unlikely subtitle reveals its text is written “by one of his captors.” What follows is Kelly’s encounter with the celebrated Spanish dancer Lola Montez when he has stopped her stagecoach on a moonlit night —

“Lola Montez, Countess of Lansfeldt,” said he, “your destiny is to become the wife of Ned Kelly, the King of the Australian bush. The parson shall marry us at once, and then I’ll take you right away to your future home in the mountain ranges. What do you say to my plan, countess?”
“That I haven’t so much as seen your face. How can I tell whether I shall like you? I have shown you mine; ‘tis but fair that I should behold yours in return.”
“Well I don’t know but what it is.” And the bushranger dropped his reins on his horse’s neck, and raised his ponderous iron head-dress.
Hardly had he done so, however, when the beautiful woman (we have her portrait before us whilst we write) pulled a small pistol from within her sleeve and fired it point-blank at the bushranger’s face, accompanying the action with the contemptuous remark —
“Where seven men sit panic-stricken before a single villain, ‘tis time for a woman to show what she can do.”
Unfortunately the beautiful specimen of the sex in question had not done nearly so much as she intended.
The little bullet from her almost toy weapon, instead of penetrating the bushranger’s brain, had only shorn off a portion of his left ear.

RUBBER-FACED BURGLAR. Another improbable character was introduced later in the text — Charles Peace, the rubber-faced British burglar. The author of Ned Kelly was James Skipp Borlase (1839-1902), who used the pen name J.J.G. Bradley in a series of penny dreadfuls published by Hogarth House in the 1880s. Borlase had already narrated his own supposed experiences with criminals, gold diggers and aborigines in his first nonfiction collection, The Night Fossickers and other Australian Tales of Perils and Adventure (London: Warne, 1867), and had supplied serials for several Australian bush papers. He’d left Australia in the 70s, bound for England via America, after writing some of the outback’s formative 
detective fiction.

[2] Town and Country Journal, July 10, 1880.

DEATH MASK. Ned Kelly was hanged on November 11, 1880. The authorities, probably under the influence of criminal anthropologist Cesare Lombroso, took his death mask for posterity. The death mask was later brought out for show at the Institute of Anatomy, Canberra, in September 1951. On April 12, 1929, at the old prison grounds workmen with a steam-shovel unearthed a gruesome discovery, the skeleton of Ned Kelly.

The bones, which were remarkably well-preserved, were taken by workmen to be kept as mementos. Mr. H. Lee, a contractor, of Richmond, secured the skull. There was a complete set of teeth in the upper jaw but morbid souvenir hunters removed most of them. — The Western Mail, April 18, 1927
J.P. Quaine, an antiquarian bookseller of South Yarra, Melbourne, Australia, wrote to penny dreadful collector Barry Ono that

The crowd fought amongst themselves like hungry dogs over the bones of the fifty years buried outlaw. They burned them up with the steam shovel during alterations to the old Melbourne jail, also Deeming’s body. The latter was scrambled for by women, above all! I must confess that Australians are a race of bloody savages.


[3] Hogarth House Edition 1880s.
BEFORE NED KELLY. James Skipp Borlase had written an early bushranger romance In London, as J.J.G. Bradley. Bluecap the Bushranger; or, the Australian Dick Turpin commenced in Charles Fox’s The Boys’ Standard, Vol. 1, No. 25, published in April 1876 as “Written by a retired Victorian Trooper.” Bluecap the Bushranger; or, the Australian Dick Turpin was reissued in 11 penny numbers by Hogarth House in the 1880s. Short as this penny dreadful was it would prove to be popular fare and was still circulating, described as a yellow back in Australia in 1895.

Like Ned Kelly, Bluecap or Blue Cap — an alias for Robert Cotterell — was a real person, a hunted bushranger captured at Humbug Creek in November 1867. Bluecap and a companion, astride stolen horses, had robbed a Chinese man at gunpoint for a measly two or three pounds and a pocket-handkerchief. He was sentenced to 10 years “on the roads.” The police constables called him “Bluey.” There was a second Blue Cap, several years later, but it was Cottrell, the original Bluecap, who was in the newspapers while Borlase was residing in Melbourne. No matter, Borlase dispensed with the facts and fashioned a thrilling and violent highwayman romance that was both funny and horrible to read.

He wore on his head a cap of bright blue cloth, fitting close like a skull-cap, and with two long lappels that fastened under his chin. From the summit of this cap stood erect a dozen or so of bright crimson and blue feathers, to a height of nearly a yard. It was easy to be seen that they consisted of the entire tail of a blue mountain macaw.
This singular head-dress covered the whole of his shaven skull, and gave him a half-Indian, half Morisco, and wholly savage and demon-like appearance.
“I have been tailoring as well as plundering,” he said with a laugh. This old cap, made to keep a traveler’s ears warm in a colder climate than this, will give me a name, and in return I will give it a name. Henceforth I am known, and known only, as
‘BLUE CAP, THE BUSHRANGER!’
Within a month or two Australian mothers shall hush their brats to sleep with the terror of that name.

[4] The Boys of New York, 1876, courtesy Joe Rainone.
Norman Munro reprinted Bluecap the Bushranger; or, the Australian Dick Turpin shortly afterwards in the American story paper The Boys of New York, beginning in Volume 2, No. 60. October 9, 1876. His serials in the weekly proved so popular that J.G. Bradley (who was J.G.G. Bradley at Hogarth House in London) became a house name for American authors of an endless variety of serials, some good and some indifferent.

AFTERWORD. I once came across a book called Stirring Tales of Colonial Adventure; A Book for Boys by Skipp Borlase with illustrations by Lancelot Speed, F. Warne, London, New York, 1894. It was another version of The Night Fossickers, where Borlase claims to have known many convicts and criminals, and enjoyed their company. It identified Skipp Borlase as author of Daring Deeds, Tales of the Bush, Yackandandah Station and The Mysteries of Melbourne. On January 27, 1870, The Mysteries of Melbourne began circulation as a newspaper serial by “Kelp.” You can view Chapter one HERE.

[5] London: Alfred J. Isaacs Edition, 1881.

Read Bluecap the Bushranger; or, the Australian Dick Turpin HERE.

Read Ned Kelly, the Ironclad Australian BushrangerHERE.

NOTE: The two links above which were live at the time of posting (April 17, 2016) appear to now be available only by subscription. See HERE.


 /¡\


Thursday, April 7, 2016

Operation Blonde, a comic strip no one ever heard of



   
JACK O’BRIEN. Early this spring I discovered that Sgt. Jack O’Brien, a cartoonist I have admired for a long, long time, drew a comic strip called Operation Blonde for AFPS. These samples appeared in the The Fort Hood Sentinel, a post newspaper published at the army base in Fort Hood, Texas, between May 28, 1953 and July 8, 1960. It lasted a long period of time for a comic strip no one ever heard of. Operation Blonde is a title evocative of the popular spy novels of the 50s-60s. From the army O’Brien went on to draw the Harvey Sad Sack comic books, and freelanced as a slick gag cartoonist for the mildly risqué 25¢ cartoon digests. 

[1] Feb 6, 1959
O’Brien was last heard of in 1970 when his home and a printing shop were raided by New Jersey police and an arrest warrant was issued for the cartoonist on obscenity charges. Police seized 8 truckloads of pornographic literature, printing machines, photographic equipment and mailing lists. The outcome does not seem to have been recorded in newspaper archives. Newspapers at the time referred to him as the artist on the syndicated Sad Sack comic strip although he may have only been assisting Fred Rhoads. 

[2] May 28, 1953
[3] Aug 21, 1958
[4] Dec 10, 1953
[5] Dec 19, 1958
[6] Jan 15, 1960
[7] July 10, 1958
[8] May 29, 1959
[9] May 29, 1959
[10] May 29, 1959
[11] May 29, 1959
[12] May 29, 1959
[13] May 29, 1959
[14] May 29, 1959
[15] May 29, 1959
[16] Aug 11, 1955
[17] July 8, 1960


EARLIER O’BRIEN. I previously posted about this brilliant gag cartoonist who signed himself O’Brien HERE, HERE and HERE. Animation Resources has more on him HERE.



Sunday, March 27, 2016

DAILY MIRROR — Comic Strip Images, Part 2

   
[1] Belinda, June 23, 1938.      

by John Adcock

 T  HERE is very little information to be found on British newspaper comic strip history — we wrote last year, see links below. Here is our latest. Any additional information is still welcomed, especially missing names of WRITERS and ARTISTS…

[2] Ruggles, by Frank and Steve Dowling, June 23, 1938.
[3] Ruggles, by Frank and Steve Dowling, June 25, 1938.

    Ruggles — at times titled The Ruggles or The Ruggles Family — by Frank Dowling (writer; from 1946 succeeded by Guy Morgan, William Connor & Ian Gammidge) & “Blik” (artist; real name Steve Dowling, sometimes ghosted by Angus Scott): debuted 11/MAR/1935; ended 03/AUG/1957.

[4] Introducing Belinda, by William Connor and “Gloria” [from Australian newspaper], Dec 16, 17, 18, 19, 1949.

    Belinda Blue-Eyes by William Connor (writer) & “Gloria” (artist; later drawn by Steve Dowling under the same pseudonym; sometimes ghosted by Angus Scott): debuted 30/SEP/1935; title shortened to Belinda 07/SEP/1939; drawn by Tony Royle from 1943; written by Peter O’Donnell for a while in 1952; later scripts by Don Freeman; ended 17/OCT/1959.

[5] Gordon Fife, by Bob Moore and Carl Pfeufer, [from Australian newspaper] July 24, 1937.
[6] Gordon Fife, by Bob Moore and Carl Pfeufer, [from Australian newspaper] July 31, 1937.

   Gordon Fife, Soldier of Fortune (USA) by Bob Moore (writer) & John Hales (art), later drawn by Carl Pfeufer: debuted 03/AUG/1936; ended 16/OCT/1937.

[7] Carl Pfeufer, presented in the Brooklyn Eagle, Nov 27, 1935.

CONTINUED IN OUR NEXT:
Terror Keep and Buck Ryan…

Meanwhile, any additional information is welcomed, especially missing names of WRITERS and ARTISTS, gathered in our DAILY MIRROR comic series index, compiled by Leonardo De Sá, spanning the years 1919-2014, HERE.

GO BACK TO PART 1 HERE.



Monday, March 21, 2016

Pennies, Profits and Poverty in Bohemian Fleet Street



There is scarcely a writer at the present day, I believe, connected with the periodical press, but who has written picturesque, humorous, or descriptive sketches, upon the sights, characters and curiosities, natural and physical, of the Great Metropolis, the Great Wen, the Modern Babylon, the World of London, the Giant City, the Monster Metropolis, the Nineveh of the nineteenth century, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.  Curiosities of London, in Household Words, June 23, 1855

ROBERT J. KIRKPATRICK’s new information-packed book Pennies, Profits and Poverty; A Biographical Directory of Wealth and Want in Bohemian Fleet Street is an arresting account of the lives, trials and tribulations of the publishers and authors who roamed Fleet Street and environs in the nineteenth century. A small part of this book appeared originally in posts published on Yesterday’s Papers and Steve Holland’s Bear Alley. Those posts have been expanded by Kirkpatrick. Much new biographical material is also added with the aid of digital newspapers, genealogical sites, and the hitherto almost untouched archives of the Victorian era Royal Literary Fund set up in 1773 to provide aid to the beggared and the destitute.

HIS FOCUS is on the contrast of wealth and poverty among the habitués of subliterary London who produced cheap radical newspapers, comic periodicals, domestic romances, boys’ weeklies and sensational literature for the amusement of what was generally referred to among the educated classes as “the mob” or “the million.”

SOME 150 LIVES and finances of publishers and authors are examined in depth. The first part, PUBLISHERS AND PROFITS, begins with the radical publishers of the penny press, among them the Duncombes, Henry Hetherington, James Watson, John Cleave, William Strange and the arch-pornographer William Dugdale. All of the publishers of penny bloods, major and minor are represented; Lloyd, Clark, Pattie, Clements, Caffyn, Pierce, Dipple, Harrison and John Dicks. Moving into the period of the boys’ weeklies and penny dreadfuls we are introduced to Brett, Fox, Ritchie, Lucas, Farrah, Allingham, the Shureys and Alfred Harmsworth. 
HACKS AND HANDOUTS, the title of Part II, examines the often precarious lives of the scribblers Pierce Egan, Hannah Maria Jones, Henry Downes Miles, G.W.M. Reynolds, John Frederick Smith, Thomas Peckett Prest, Thomas Frost, James Lindridge, James Greenwood and James Malcolm Rymer. The lives of the founders of Punch are illuminated with essays on the Mayhews, the à Beckett’s, Ebenezer Landells, Mark Lemon and Shirley Brooks. Some of those featured established good literary reputations with the establishment; Angus Bethune Reach, George Augustus Sala, the Blanchard’s and the Jerrold’s. A list that doesn’t cover half of the lives represented in this 549-page volume.
A DEFINITIVE WORK lPennies, Profits and Poverty is a learned classic of the celebrated and the obscure; at one and the same time a biographical dictionary, a financial study of the cheap press, a definitive reference work, and an intimate portrait of Bohemian Fleet Street in the nineteenthlcentury.

Pennies, Profits and Poverty; 
A Biographical Directory of 
Wealth and Want in Bohemian Fleet Street

Available through 
Amazon Books.



Friday, March 11, 2016

This Man is Dangerous — Part III



[21] May 1, 1952
[22] May 8, 1952
[23] May 15, 1952
[24] May 28, 1952[25] June 4, 1952 MISSING
[26] June 12, 1952
[27] June 19, 1952
[28] June 26, 1952[29] July 3, 1952 MISSING
[30] July 10, 1952
[31] July 17, 1952[32] July 31, 1952 MISSING
[33] Aug 7, 1952
[34] Aug 14, 1952
[34] Aug 21, 1952
[35] Aug 28, 1952
[36] Sept 4, 1952
[37] Sept 11, 1952
[38] Sept 18, 1952
[39] Sept 25, 1952
[40] Oct 2, 1952
[41] Oct 9, 1952
[42] Oct 16, 1952
[43] Oct 23, 1952
This Man is Dangerous — Part I HERE.

This Man is Dangerous — Part II HERE.

[lThe Endl]
}