Refreshing the Reports (Updates)

Bessie Mae Kelley, Kieran Castaño, Robert Ripley, Harry Bliss, Hergé

Alex Jay took note of the Bessie Mae Kelley stories and dug up her vitals from birth:

Bessie Mae Kelley was born Elizabeth Mae Kelley. The date of her birth is unclear: November 1889 in the 1900 United States Census; November 10, 1890, Minnesota Death Index;  November 10, 1897, Social Security Death Index.

To death:

Kelley passed away on October 21, 1981, in Wabasha, Minnesota.

And all records in between those two events.

With our story Joe Arechavala asked about samples of her art. Alex provides a 1926 sample (above left) and we have dug up one of her displaying her earlier animation creations of Roderick and Gladys Mouse at a 1933 chalk talk.


We’ve noted cartoonist Kieran Castaño (here and here). The Orlando Sentinel recently ran a feature article about the latest cartoonist to draw the Ripley’s Believe It or Not feature.

Central Florida artist Kieran Castano is continuing the long tradition of drawing Ripley’s “Believe It or Not” comic strip, a daily panel that spotlights fun facts, out-of-box thinking and unusual individuals.

Castano, who grew up in Sanford and lives there now, started freelancing for Orlando-based Ripley Entertainment last year and took over on a full-time basis in November. The panel was started by Robert Ripley — the man who coined the term “believe it or not” — more than a century ago.

photo credits: PBS and Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel

The Orlando Sentinel story says Kieran was freelance until last month when he “took over on a full-time basis.” I hope that means Kieran is a salaried artist at Ripley Enterprises.

Curiously I was notified of this story by way of Ripley’s Facebook page, curious because they are still not crediting Kieran on their cartoons page the way they used to with John Graziano.


Harry Bliss has a new book out. Well he and Steve Martin have a new book out.

Today’s Amazon ranking:
#1 in Celebrity & Popular Culture Humor (Books) and #3 in Comic Strips (Books)

© Steve Martin and Harry Bliss

Harry has returned home from the whirlwind Martin-Bliss promotional tour and now the reporters are coming to him instead of he going to them. The latest is Peter Chianca for and Strip Search: The Comic Strip Podcast.

Bliss talks about how he became the artist behind — and a character in — the bestseller “Number One is Walking,” Steve Martin’s film career memoir.

Harry the Hermit was not real comfortable on the tour:

But “The View,” man, that was crazy. I’m just glad I was sober. The thing about “The View” is that when you come out there and sit down, I saw beyond the audience. I saw the audience, all masked, I saw the walls. Then, beyond that, I saw New York City, then beyond that I saw the communication of everybody tuned into “The View,” and I imagined in my mind, how strange this whole setup, this thing that we’re doing right now is! I guess I was very, very present in that moment. I was in awe of the moment — I thought, this is just mind blowing to me. I don’t know how I made it through it.


About those Best Sellers in Comic Strips Amazon rankings.

At this time of year books are fighting calendars for the top spots.


Still on the subject of books.

Barnes & Noble has a plan to open 30 stores in 2023, making the bookseller the leader in what’s being called a big-box revival. This expansion comes after more than a decade of shrinking its numbers in response to competition from Amazon.

Book Riot reports the good news for us fans of wandering bricks and mortar.

The new stores will be designed like independent bookstores and will encourage customers to linger.


On occasion we’ve been know to note auctions.

An original drawing by Hergé for the 1942 edition of Tintin in America, still used as the cover of the book, is expected to fetch at least €2m (£1.7m) when it is auctioned next year.

© Hergé / Tintinimaginatio

The Guardian has details if you wish to bid.

The illustration was done in Indian ink, graphite and corrective gouache, and was used for the cover of the 1942 “full-page” edition of Tintin in America. It was used again for the cover of the 1946 colour edition, the version still used on the book today.