Wednesday, November 14, 2007
Obscurity of the Day: Teena A Go Go
Teena A Go Go was a short-lived strip about a teenage girl, a soap opera-adventure mix with that inimitable 60s mod overtone. The strip was written by Bessie Little who definitely had a feel for the genre (she had been the editor of various teen and movie magazines in the 1950s) but was not cut out for writing a comic strip. As you can see in the examples above, Little went way overboard with captions and balloons, turning what might have been a better strip into a sea of lettering.
The cartoonist on the series, Bob Powell, was a well-known comic book artist. Powell became a fan favorite in the 1940s with an art style that was recognizable and a cut above the typical comic book hackwork. However Powell was long past his prime here and the art is muddy and sloppy compared to his best years.
Teena A Go Go was syndicated by the Bell-McClure Syndicate, a combination of two old-timer syndicates that merged in 1963. The syndicate was on its last legs and there was probably no sales force left to hawk the new feature. Depending on the how you like the strip, you can ascribe its rarity to that or the quality of the strip itself. The strip also displayed a copyright to something called Publication House, but I have no idea what that is.
The strip, which ran Sunday and daily, started on August 14 1966 and apparently ended February 18 1967 (at least that's the latest I can find). The end date is in mid-story, but it may have been cancelled abruptly due to Powell's health -- he would die later that year. One reference cites a start date in June 1966 but I can find no evidence to corroborate that.
I researched some of this for Michael Gilbert, who hopes to do a piece on it sometime for alter Ego. I have quite a few of the sundays, but no dailies. If you have a run of the dailies, I'd love to talk about exchanging copies. I finally found that Swinnerton primer you didn't know about and have it ready to scan anyway.
The origin of this strip has to do with the magazine Teen Life, where Betsy Little was an editor. The strip also appeared there in two to four page instalments and was often mesnntioned or even shown on their busy cover. I don't know which version was started first, but the Teen Life one seems to have run longer, which sort of counterdicts the most fashionable idea that the cancellation of the strip had something to do with Powell's illness. Publication House was of course, the publisher of Teen Life.