Monday, May 27, 2013

When Facial Recognition Fails

In researching some vintage comic strip characters (see: Gasoline Alley and the Old Comic Strip Challenge), I discovered that Internet searches aren't quite the be-all-end-all that many assume. While facial recognition has improved quite a bit the same can't be said for the graphic arts.

In the sequence below, Walt Wallet (right in first panel) is talking to a character (marked "1") from a vintage discontinued comic strip. But which one? And who's the character? (click on image to enlarge)

The frustrating thing is that the character looks somewhat familiar. But since I can't come up with a name, I can't do an image search to verify. I've looked through several comic strip resource sites, such as Barnacle Press, Don Markstein's Toonopedia, The Stripper's Guide, Wikopedia (of course) and more.

No one has a complete listing of syndicated comic strips from the 1920s-1930s. And worse yet, not all the entries have accompanying images. In the sequence I'm researching, Jim Scanarelli has drawn not the main characters of the comic strips he's referencing, but sometimes the supporting characters instead.

And since many of the image references I found only show the main character, that makes my task even more difficult. Fortunately, there are some excellent printing histories still floating around. The successful end to this search may be off- rather than online.

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