In 1913 the McClure Syndicate was having a heck of a time getting and retaining cartooning talent, as the market for their readyprint Sunday comic sections was rapidly drying up. Most McClure sections of this period are populated with lackluster material and reprints of material from as long ago as 6-8 years earlier.
Into this mess walked French-Canadian cartoonist Raoul Barre, who was soon to become a leading light in early animation. The details of why and how he came to be associated with McClure are unknown to me, but he was obviously not anxious to let the world know he was penning a strip for McClure. Hence Noahzark Hotel, his only known U.S-syndicated comic strip, is signed Varb, an acronym for his full name, Vital Achille Raoul Barre. The strip, as the name implies, is about a hotel whose staff and customers are animals. The theme is put to good use in many of the strips, with the species of the animals dictating the action, which tends to the playfully and pleasingly frantic. The quality of the drawing varies quite a bit from week to week, but the strips are always attractive on the page, with shortcomings only apparent on closer study. Perhaps the less well-drawn strips were due to Barre’s no doubt busy schedule in this period. He was already working at the Bray Studios on their very earliest animated shorts,
the first of which was released in June of this year.
Barre produced Noahzark Hotel for almost a full year, from January 12 to November 9 1913.
12 strips 1913