Thursday, April 12, 2007
Sponsored Comics: Happy Days 1969
For the introductory post on Sponsored Comics click here.
Happy Days 1969 was bylined to Norman Maurer. Maurer was, I believe, the man behind Sponsored Comics. His contribution to the section was a delightful fantasy of the future, a world right out of the Jetsons that Maurer apparently thought might just happen within the next decade.
The art on this strip is absolutely fantastic, and though I remain skeptical of art-spotting, my own included, I think this strip was probably ghosted by the great Al Wiseman. Wiseman was the master cartoonist who turned the Dennis The Menace comic books from what could have been just another forgettable comic strip spin-off into a work of enduring value.
Unlike most of the Sponsored comics which came and went with the section, Maurer in 1960 tried to syndicate this feature as a Sunday strip and daily panel. It was listed in E&P that year but I've never seen it appearing in any newspaper.
You might say that the syndicates are doing that now with their subscription websites. And some newspapers are getting pretty peeved about it, which is reasonable, seems to me. Newspapers pay a small fortune for their comic strips, and readers can see the syndicate's entire output for what, $10-20 per year? If newspaper editors could admit to themselves that so people buy newspapers mostly for the comics there would be a major revolt against the practice. Luckily for us, they refuse to admit it, even to themselves.
Interesting to read tyou see evidence of a ghost here. The style is very similar to Maurer's work on the Mad imitation Whack - except maybe for the slicker inking.
Well, if this is Maurer's work he must have had the same art teachers as Al Wiseman. I haven't seen any of Maurer's work in years (and then only in those 3-D comics) but I didn't remember it being this polished -- pleasing but not up to this standard. Do you happen to know of any sources where I could see a sample of his work on the web? The sites I just checked were all too preoccupied with his Three Stooges connection to bother much about his cartooning.
Comic books for the 1970s that Maurer did include the "Little Stooges" for gold key (the inking does look like this work) - and stuff for Joe Kubert's war books.
now for "the below". there is a Dennis the Menace Giant cover by Al Wiseman drew, that features lots and lots of names in the background - including that of Norman Maurer!!
I can't give you any Maurer sources. I could probably round up a couple of samples. Maybe the advertising thing is even in my upstairs computer. I'll have a look tomorrow. The comic to be looking for is Meet Miss Pepper. That and the earlier Stooges comics are the closest to this style. You can still get the 3d reprint series from Ray Zone relatively cheap.
The other connections to look out for are Bill Overgard, who worked on Whack and did comic strip parodies for some of the later Stooges issues (in the St. John run). I'll be writing about those in an article on Mad imitations in Alter Ego - which should be finished in half a year and published a year after that, but still.
Carl Hubbard was on Whack too. His style was similar to Maurer's. After St. John folded Maurer went to Timely and did a couple of westerns for them. For that his style became less angular. When he later turned up at DC doing a couple of stories, his style was less idiosyncratic as well. These couple of 'sundays' are an anomaly, as they seem to hark back to his St. John days stylewise.