Professor Hypnotiser (27 March 1904)

Ed Carey was an early 20th-century American comics artist who created various short-lived series and continued gag-a-day comics by other artists. His best remembered work from his own hand was 'Professor Hypnotiser' (1903-1905). Carey was a master in drawing goofy characters with unforgettable grotesque faces.

Edward James Carey was born in 1871 in Illinois as son of a blacksmith. Both his parents were Canadian immigrants. He started his career drawings sports cartoons for the Chicago Inter-Ocean and The Chicago Daily News. Between July 1900 and November 1901 he published his first one-shot comics in the Chicago Daily News. These included such recurring features as 'From An Old Album' (July-November 1900), 'Aesop Revised' (February-March 1901) and 'The Meanest Man' (June-July 1901). His work could also be read in The New York Evening Telegram between 1909 and 1911 and in The New York World between 1911 and 1912. Most of it was syndicated by the McClure syndicate.


Brainy Bowers (14 June 1901)

Carey was one of several artists for the feature 'Brainy Bowers and Drowsy Duggan' (1901-1915) for the Chicago Daily News. Appearing on the paper's joke page from 30 January 1901 onwards, Ed Carey was the first to draw the characters. Brainy Bowers was a happy-go-lucky tramp in the same vein as Frederick Burr Opper's 'Happy Hooligan'. The main difference was that Brainy's big nose, lips, beard and speech were clearly meant to evoke a Jewish stereotype. Yet Brainy wasn't a malicious or stupid character. He frequently outwits the police and makes other people do difficult or exhausting work for him, so he can reap the benefits. The other title character was a stick figure, who didn't get his name until 1904. By December 1901 Roy W. Taylor drew the feature, but Carey returned for the Sunday strip between 12 April 1903 and 25 June 1905. From then on George Frink and a certain Burns alternated on the feature, after which Ted Brown (1911-1914) and Pierre J. Kinder (1914-1915) ended its run. The 1905 book publication called 'Brainy Bowers and Drowsy Duggan Getting on in the World with No Visible Means of Support (Stories Told in Pictures to Make Their Telling Short)' was not only notable for its long title, but also for being the first collection of daily newspaper strip reprints.

Between 6 April 1902 and 10 January 1909 Carey also drew 'Simon Simple' in the New York World. Like the name implies it centers around a well-meaning but utterly naïve twit, who could have easily inspired Bill Griffith's 'Zippy the Pinhead'. The early 'Simon Simple' episodes often appeared as a jam page with A.D. Reed's 'Mister Bowser' (1901-1902). Ironically enough, Carey would make a panel cartoon with the same title for the Boston Globe in 1915. It was turned into a text feature with illustrations by Carey in the following year. Another connection with McClure colleague Reed was Carey filling in on a couple of episodes of Reed's 'Uncle Pike' in 1903.

Simple Simon by Ed Carey
Simple Simon (1 June 1902)

Another early series was 'Professor Hypnotiser' (1903-1905). It featured a tall professor with a high hat and cane who always tried to hypnotise people to his own advantage, but usually he got the lid on his own nose. The series ran sporadically between 1 February 1903 and 23 July 1905. Between 7 May and 26 November 1905 Carey drew a short-lived comic strip about the tramp 'Weary Willie' (not to be confused with Tom Browne's UK strip 'Weary Willie and Tired Tim' from about a decade earlier). From 2 April 1909 until 16 September 1910 he published the comic strip 'Dolby's Double' (1909-1910) in The New York Evening Telegram, which centered around a businessman named Dolby who suffered from frequent zany hijinks caused by the fact that he had a dobbelganger named Everett. Everett did countless illegal and nasty things for which Dolby was always blamed. This would led to his familiar catchphrase: "But - it wasn't me! It was my double!" The gimmick grew tired by the next year, after which Carey discontinued the comic.

'Dad in Kidland' (1911-1912) was a comic strip created by Hans Phildius in May 1911 and then continued by Ed Carey in the following month. It centered around a land named 'Kidland' where the children act like adults and adults act like children. One thing that could be said about this bizarre premise was that it at least hadn't been done before in a newspaper comic. About half a century later Belgian comics artist Jef Nys would create a story within his 'Jommeke' series named 'Kinderen Baas' (1965), which had the same idea, though in his case as the result of a scientific experiment. It is unlikely that Nys was familiar with 'Dad in Kidland'.

'The Troubles of Dictionary Jaques by Ed Carey

Carey's 'The Troubles of Dictionary Jaques' (1912-1913) centered around a stereotypical Frenchman whose knowledge of English is so bad that he frequently causes misunderstandings and trouble. Apart from this gimmick the series featured a lot of verbal wordplay. Between 1914 and 1916 Carey continued 'Pa's Imported Son-In-Law', a comic strip originally created by Charles H. Wellington in 1913. He was one of several artists to work on the feature, while Wellington moved on to launch the similar 'Pa's Son-in-law' for the Newspaper Feature Service. By April 1915, the strip was restyled as 'Return Engagement of Pa's Imported Son-in-law' (1915-1916), also known as 'Pa's Family and Their Friends'. Cashing in on the celebrity of Charlie Chaplin the comic strip now starred Chaplin in a recurring role. Other artists who created comics based on Chaplin's tramp character were Stuart Carothers, E.C. Segar, Bertie Brown, Freddie Adkins, Don Newhouse, Roy Wilson, Reginald Parlett, Henry Puttick, Terence Wakefield, Wally Robertson, C. Rojo, Raoul Thomen, Mat, Pierre Lacroix, Jean-Claude Forest, Jim Russell, Mariel Dauphin, Pascal Radulescu, Ramón Alonso, Patrick Lesueur, Sergio Zaniboni and Richard Cowdry.


Pa's Imported Son-in-law (1916)

In August 1914 Carey furthermore succeeded Harry J. Westerman on the family Sunday comic 'Dinkelspiels', which was written by George V. Hobart. The strip ran until 11 April 1915. Among Carey's other short-lived strips for McClure are 'Gee! But It's Great To Be Crazy' (October-December 1904), 'Joe of the Musical Habit' (July-October 1905), 'The Education of Master Tommy Pipp' (17 December 1905 - 25 June 1906), 'Mister Rolly-Polly - The Man Who Tumbles Into Things' (3 December 1905-4 February 1906) and 'Mister Steplively' (June-July 1906), while he additionally made 'Adventures of a Bad Half-Dollar' (October 1909-June 1910) and 'Ye Getting Of Ye Goat' (December 1910-April 1911) for the New York Evening Telegram.

Ed Carey passed away on 10 October 1928 in White Plains, New York, from a cerebral hemorrhage.

Dad In Kidland by Ed Carey
Dad In Kidland (22 October 1911)

Ed Carey on the Screwball Comics blog

Series and books by Ed Carey in stock in the Lambiek Webshop:

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