Tuesday, August 26, 2008


Ella Cinders

You learn something new every day. Here I am working on the first script of Cinderella: From Fabletown With Love, and Garen Ewing (the cartoonist responsible for The Rainbow Orchid) posts about a golden age comic strip, Ella Cinders.

On his Toonopedia, Don Markstein has this to say about the strip:
Everybody likes a good rags-to-riches tale, the exemplar of which is Charles Perrault's Cinderella — in fact, a common term for them is "Cinderella stories". Here's one whose authors didn't just admit where they got their inspiration. By the very title, they proclaimed it. And yet, during most of the strip's existence, the title was the only connection to the story it came from.

Those authors were writer Bill Conselman and artist Charlie Plumb, neither of whom is known for other work in comics. The strip was distributed by United Feature Syndicate, which also handled Peanuts, Gordo, Twin Earths and many others. The daily version began June 1, 1925, and a Sunday page was added two years later.
There's a digital archive of the first couple of years worth of daily strips at Barnacle Press, and from the little I've had a chance to read so far they appear to be not-a-million-miles from Little Orphan Annie, which interestingly didn't debut until two months after Ella Cinders, on August 5, 1925.

At Digital Funnies, there are a few samples of the later Sunday color strips, available from that site on CD and DVD. From this brief sampling, it looks like Ella Cinders later moved into something nearer to Tintin territory (and I can see what Ewing likes so much about the strip).

I've been a student of the history of comics (strips, books, etc) my whole life, and before this morning had never heard of this strip before. What else don't I know?!

Hello Chris... that movie camera on the ship comic page is indeed the one that attracted me to the strip in the first place. Silent film and comics all in one place... yum. Quite sophisticated compared to Hergé's strips of the same era!

Thanks for the link, and I'm pleased to read that blog post led you to Ella as well. My best - G.
Hi Chris,

I'm pretty sure that I remember entries in Maurice Horn's comic strip encyclopedia, as well as something in the Smithsonian Collection of Comic Strips.

Gotta love the continuity adventure strips of the period -- even the Gumps and Barbey Google had amazing adventures around the world.
Thanks again for pointing the strip out, Garen!
I checked the Smithsonian book on newspaper comics last night after seeing your post, Stu, and came up empty. I don't have a copy of Horn's encyclopedia handy, but I'll see if the local library has a copy I can paw through. Thanks for the tip!
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