Wednesday, June 06, 2007
Obscurity of the Day: Once Upon a Time
Fairy tale strips have been tried many times, but seldom have they attained any great popularity. Once Upon a Time is no exception to the rule. Walter J. Enright penned this one that adapted classic fairy tales to the comic strip medium.
The strip has a bit of a checkered history. Syndicated by McClure starting on June 1 1925, the strip in some papers went under the moniker of Make-A-Book, and in those cases included instructions for cutting out the strips to form a booklet (not exactly rocket science). The original run of the strip seems to have ended on August 5 1926, but McClure continued selling the strip in reprints as late as 1929. In 1933 Whitman Publishing issued a Big Little Book based on the strip even though McClure seems to have quit selling it four years earlier.
W.J. Enright first pops up on my radar in the oughts, illustrating a few books, and then drops out of sight until the advent of this strip. By 1929, however, he was producing illustrations for the New York World and did a short-lived Sunday panel titled Here and Thereabouts. Then he disappears again. He, or perhaps more likely his progeny, pops up again in the 1950s as W.J. Pat Enright, when he has a few children's books published.
Be sure to read the above samples, a complete tale with some rather 'Grimm' doings. Doctor Wertham would not be pleased!
Here was some concise storytelling I wish I could absorb in full.
Thanks for sharing this find.
That's a notice for the next story, Hansel & Gretel. Enright's sig is a little further up in the panel.
Info from: “Original cartoons by American Cartoonists from the collection of Mr. Charles L Howard, February 6 to March 4, 1939,” pdf file: AIC1939AMCartoon_comb.pdf ; “Political Cartoon Collection, 1889-1944: Inventory,” Princeton University Library – Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library, 2001, viewed online: http://arks.princeton.edu/ark:/88435/th83kz33s
Sara W. Duke, Curator, Popular & Applied Graphic Art, Library of Congress, firstname.lastname@example.org