Mrs Timekiller, by L.A. Searl 1909

Leon Adams Searl, who signed most of his comics "L.A. Searl", was an American newspaper cartoonist and early animator. The artist was born in Kansas City, Missouri, around 1881. He has worked on several newspaper comics between 1905 and 1917, most of which were short-lived. His first production was 'Jimmy Johnnypants' (November 1905-February 1906) for the Pulitzer papers. He then worked for the Philadelphia Press Syndicate. His longest running creation was 'Mrs, Timekiller', which he drew from 1907 until 1915. When the feature transferred to World Color Printing in April 1911, it was briefly drawn by an artist called Hickard, but Searl quickly resumed his work on the strip. Among Searl's other creations for the Philadelphia Press are 'George Washington, Junior' (February 1911) and 'Why?' (September-December 1911), the latter being conducted as a contest with readers submitting the writing. For the North American Syndicate, he revived Wally Wallgren's 1910 feature 'Ruff and Reddy' between December 1913 and July 1915. Most strips were signed with "Uncle Stump", one of the characters of the strip.

In February and March 1917, Searl was working for Hearst papers like the New York American. He made the short-lived weekday features 'The Bugville Newsreel' (February-March 1917), 'Heard Along The Rialto' (February-March 1917) and 'Bugs Will Be Bugs' (March 1917), which were printed with the companion feature 'Bugville Closeups'. Comic strips about a town inhabited by little bugs were apparently popular at the time, as several non-related comic strips with largely the same title appeared in the period 1900-1917. The first one, also called 'Bugville', was created by Gus Dirks from 1900 to 1902 for the Hearst syndicate. Later followed similar features by Morton Thayer ('Bugville' for the NEA Syndicate, 1905), Paul Bransom ('Bugtown Budget' for the Boston Traveler, 1909) and Percy Crosby ('Bugville' for the New York World, 1912-1914). The concept was also picked up by the Walt Disney Studios in 1932 for their Sunday comics page starring 'Bucky Bug' (by Al Taliaferro and Earl Duvall) and the animated short 'Bugs in love'.

Searl also worked on early animated films for International Film Service, such as 'Krazy Kat Goes A-Wooing' (1916), 'Krazy Kat and Ignatz Mouse at the Circus' (1916) and 'Mr. Nobody Holme--He Buys a Jitney' (1916). The first two were based on George Herriman's newspaper comics 'Krazy Kat' and 'Mr. Nobody Holme' and the earliest animated adaptations of his works. Leon Searl passed away in Flushing, New York, on 28 January 1919 at the age of 38.

Ruff and Reddy by Leon Searl
Ruff and Reddy

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