Tuesday, April 18, 2006
Obscurity of the Day: Little Lefty
Now that the blog brain trust has supplied the correct ID for the Daily Worker's cartoonist 'del' as Maurice del Bourgo, let's take a look at his magnum opus, Little Lefty.
Little Lefty started on October 8, 1934, and was by far the longest running strip in the history of the socialist paper The Daily Worker. It ran daily, with occasional hiccups, through January 3, 1943. The star of the show would have gotten along well with Percy Crosby's Skippy. Both were fond of philosphizing at length over the sorry state of the world. Skippy preferred the all-American apple pie solutions of democracy, freedom and the golden rule as a cure for the ills of society, whereas Lefty was just as certain that a socialist state was the cure.
Lefty was unabashedly political, and the jokes, when they could be wedged in amongst the idealistic sloganeering, were weak at best. This made Lefty fit in perfectly with the rest of the Worker's so-called humor. As I've mentioned before, the folks who contributed to the Worker were far too earnest and idealistic to really allow themselves to let loose with a good 'slip on a banana peel' type knee slapper. "How can we laugh when the world is in such a state?" I can imagine them muttering at their drawing boards.
Little Lefty actually ran seven days per week for long stretches. When the Daily Worker added a Sunday edition, Little Lefty On Sundays was inaugurated. This version, essentially just an extra daily, ran 1/12/1936 - 5/28/1939, changing its title to Buttons on 11/6/1938.
In 1940, a new character was introduced named Marmaduke. He's hard to describe, sort of a flying eel with a handlebar moustache. I haven't read enough of this stretch of the strip to really understand the significance of his form, but one of these days I'll dig some strips out from that era to show. Marmaduke was less fond of spouting philosophy as Lefty, but he made up for it by earnestly showing the horrors of capitalism through longer contiuning storylines. The strip was sometimes renamed Adventures Of Marmaduke in 1940-41, and when Little Lefty appeared in this time the strip was often titled Little Lefty's Cartoonews. This title flagged the strip as even more earnestly political, as Lefty commented on the news of the day, making the strip verge on being a political cartoon.
The strip went on a long hiatus starting 6/8/1941, coming back for a short run 11/2/1942-1/2/1943. After this 'del' seems to have left the paper for greener pastures.
The samples shown are the first two installments of the strip from 1934.
Blog Note: I'm getting more and more spam comments on the blog so I've activated the comment verification feature of Blogger. If you leave a comment now, you'll just have to answer a very simple question to post (you just type the word shown in a graphic image). Hopefully this will cut down on the junk mail that I have to go around deleting every morning these days.