Willie White by William Marriner
'Adventures of Willie White, Bennie Brown and Bobby Black'.

William F. Marriner was an early 20th-century newspaper comic artist. Among his longest-running gag-a-day comics were 'Johnnie Bostonbeans' (1901-1904), 'Foolish Ferdinand' (1901-1904), 'Sambo And His Funny Noises' (1905-1913), 'Wags, the Dog That Adopted A Man' (1905-1908) and 'Mary and Her Little Lamb' (1906-1909). 

Early life and career
William F. Marriner was born in 1873 in Kentucky. His earliest work appeared in the magazine Puck in the late 1890s. It stood out for its particularly loose and lush drawing style. Eventually, he specialized in drawing cartoons about little children. From 1900 until 1906, he worked for the Philadelphia Enquirer and Joseph Pulitzer's New York World. In 1901 Marriner was associated with the McClure Syndicate and again from 1905 to 1914. He also worked for Hearst and appeared in the short-lived Chicago Chronicle comics section.

Early comics
Marriner's first comic was 'The Centaurs' (August-September 1898), published in The New York Evening Journal. For The Philadelphia Enquirer he drew the adventures of 'Willie White and Benny Brown' (May-September 1900), a rich and poor child who were both white, and Bobby Black, a child whose last name already gives away his skin color. Marriner was a follower of the "giant heads" school of cartooning, as can especially be seen in the occasional daily 'Johnnie Bostonbeans' (October 1901- October 1904), which ran in William Randolph Hearst's New York Evening Journal. Marriner followed these up with his McClure features 'Foolish Ferdinand' (December 1901-1904), 'Mary and Her Little Lamb' (1906-1909) and 'Sambo and His Funny Noises' (1905-1913). 

Wags
'Wags, The Dog That Adopted A Man'. 

Sambo and his Funny Noises
'Sambo and His Funny Noises' (1905-1913) was based on Helen Bannerman's popular children's novel series 'The Story of Little Black Sambo', of which she had sold the copyright. Sambo in both series was a little black boy who interacted with two white boys. While these comics can nowadays come across as a bit racially insensitive, little Sambo wasn't always the loser in this gag comic. Some jokes end with him receiving his come-uppance over others.

Wags, The Dog That Adopted A Man
Another popular series by Marriner was 'Wags, The Dog that Adopted a Man' (1905-1908), a strip built around the running gag of a pet hater unable to get rid of a puppy dog who keeps following him.

Later comics
Marriner's first continuing feature for McClure was 'Glad Rags, The Corpulent Tramp', that only ran from February until May 1905. The gimmick-based 'The House of Mirth' was also a short-lived effort (March-June 1906), and dealt with a gang of kids fooling customers in their sideshow-type establishment. Between September and November 1909, Marriner continued 'Those Ridiculous Questions', a newspaper comic originally created by Raymond Crawford Ewer

William Gladrags, by William Marriner
'Glad Rags, The Corpulent Tramp' (1905).

Final years and death
Marriner's personal life was not as idyllic as the world he depicted in his cartoons. He was an alcoholic, which motivated his wife to move away with their son, until her husband sobered up again. On 8 October 1914, Sullivan was again drunk. A neighbor heard him say that he would "burn down his home and the entire village", if his wife didn't return. That same night, Marriner's house caught fire, killing him within it. 

Legacy
One of Marriner's assistants during the final years of his life was Australian cartoonist Pat Sullivan, famous for 'Felix the Cat'. His own comic strip 'Johnny Boston Beans' (1914) was direct plagiarism of Marriner's similarly titled comic 'Johnnie Bostonbeans' (1901-1904). After Marriner died in 1914, Sullivan moved into animation. One of his first animated series was based on Marriner's 'Sambo' character, but renamed as 'Sammie Johnsin' (1915-1916) to avoid copyright issues. Interestingly enough, Sullivan was just like Marriner an alcoholic and died an early death after his wife passed away from defenestration a year earlier. 

Sambo and his Funny Noises, by William Marriner 1908
'Sambo and his Funny Noises'.

William Marriner at the Stripper's Guide

Series and books by William Marriner you can order today:

X

If you want to help us continue and improve our ever- expanding database, we would appreciate your donation through Paypal.