Kitty Kelly and Nellie Shannon (1 January 1937)

The artist who is credited as simply "Ro" is one of those mysterious footnotes in comics history. He is only known for succeeding Gene Carr on the obscure newspaper comic 'Kitty Kelly and Nelly Shannon' (1936-1938) for the equally obscure Van Tine Features Syndicate. Van Tine syndicated about a dozen comic strips to American newspapers during the 1930s and then went out of business. One of their top artists was comics pioneer Gene Carr, who not only produced the 'Here 'n' There' cartoon panel, but also the comic strips 'Kitty Kelly' and 'Johnny Beans'. 'Kitty Kelly' was remarkable for several reasons. First of all, it was Van Tine's only strip with an ongoing story instead of a gag-a-day format. It was also one of the few comic strips at the time with two beautiful women in starring roles,although comics revolving around one female character already existed back then, such as Gene Carr's own 'Lady Bountiful' (1902), Winsor McCay's 'Hungry Henrietta' (1905), Martin Branner's 'Winnie Winkle the Breadwinner' (1920), Larry Whittington's 'Fritzi Ritz' (1925) and Chic Young's 'Blondie' (1930). Launched somewhere in January 1936, Kitty Kelly was a young and beautiful girl searching for work as a Hollywood extra, model and dancer. Her friend Nelly Shannon was only added to the strip's title later on. Carr left the strip in May of that year to create 'Johnny Beans'. This is when "Ro" took over. 'Kitty Kelly' was in syndication until at least late 1938.


Kitty Kelly and Nellie Shannon (25 July 1936)

Other Van Tine features on the newspaper comics pages were 'Imaginary Interviews' by Leonard Frank, 'Follies of the Great' by Chuck Thorndike, 'Bozo and the Baron' by Larry Antonette, 'Don't Be Like That' by Ray I. Hoppman, 'Baron Munchhausen' by Klaus Nordling, 'Rumpus' by Art Helfant, 'Don't Laugh' by Abraham Blumenfeld, 'Oddities-Land, Sea and Air' by C.Y. Renick and the aforementioned Carr features.


Kitty Kelly and Nellie Shannon (7 May 1937)

The Stripper's Guide about Van Tine

Series and books by Ro in stock in the Lambiek Webshop:

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