Saturday, February 25, 2006

 

Obscurity of the Day: Jeanie


Now here's a real treasure. For reasons I can't fathom it never appeared in many papers during its run, and has been ignored or undiscovered by fans since.

Jeanie started as a 'filler' strip in the New York Herald-Tribune. During most of the 40s and 50s, the H-T ran a series of sixth-page strips as fillers when the page layout required. Usually this happened when they ran a page with a half-page strip and a third-page ad. The extra space would be taken by a one-tier filler.

Most of these 'filler' strips are eminently forgettable, but there are some notable exceptions. Perhaps the most interesting was Harvey Kurtzman's Silver Linings. But Jeanie is no slouch, either, with lusciously crisp art by Gill Fox, and snappy story by Selma Diamond. Diamond was a noted comedy writer and later a character actor. She's best remembered for her role on the sitcom Night Court. A short bio can be found here.

The strip started its run on 8/26/1951. Jeanie was eventually recognized as being far too good to remain an occasional filler strip, and was graduated to a full-fledge regular Sunday strip plus a daily in April 1952. As we already know, the syndication market was unaccountably uninterested in the well-drawn and well-written adventures of an often scantily clad gorgeous babe. Lack of syndication sales was probably the reason that Gill Fox dropped out in March 1953, to be replaced by Leon Win (a pseudonym?). Win's artwork looked like a very rushed version of Fox, and for all I know, may actually be just that. In any case, the drop-off in art quality certainly didn't help the strip's syndication chances, and it ended on 9/27/1953.

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Comments:
Jerry Bails identifies him as Leon Winik, owner of Winik Art and Film; and comic book artist from 1949-c1957, best known for drawing Pat the Brat (for Archie), and Billy the Kid (for the Capp/Caplin brothers at Toby)
 
Thanks, Steven! I'll make a note of that in the Jeanie SG listing.

--Allan
 
John Benson has some circomstantial evidence for the fact that there may be more than the ten or twelve known installments of Harvey Kurtzman's Silver Linings that were published in the Herald Tribune. I believe he has a clipping for a Silver Lining from a different paper, leaving open the possibillity that Kurtzman did draw them for other dates as well - when they just weren't published in the HT. How did that work for the early Jeannie strips? Were they just drawn for the weeks that they were needed? And do you know of other papers that took these filler sunday strips?
 
I don't believe that the HT filler strips were produced except as needed (or alternatively, perhaps were ordered in batches of a certain number, and used or not used at the paper's need). I have never seen one of these filler strips in another paper, and that seems reasonable since the H-T did not even bother putting copyright notices on them. Certainly they never advertised them in E&P, of that I'm sure.

As for Silver Linings, it is essentially the same as Kurtzman's filler work for comic books at the time, so there may have been some cross-pollination going on. But running in another paper? Well, anything's possible.

Best, Allan
 
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