Monday, March 31, 2008


Obscurity of the Day: Alice in Wonderland

From the pen of the very talented Ed Kuekes we have his only syndicated strip (though a panel, Do You Believe, languishes yet on our mystery strip list). Alice in Wonderland probably takes advantage of the less stringent copyright laws of the day to appropriate Lewis Carroll's world famous character in this Sunday strip adaptation of her adventures. The adaptations were written by Olive Ray Scott, of whom I am perfectly ignorant, and syndicated by United Feature Syndicate.

The original run of the strip seems to have been from July 15 1934 to June 23 1935. However, United only advertised the strip in E&P in 1936-38. I'm pretty certain the syndicate was just marketing the series in reprints then, but why they didn't advertise it in 1934 and '35 is a bit of a mystery.

The strip was accompanied by a delightful topper titled Knurl the Gnome, which as far as I know is not part of the Carroll canon. It accompanied Alice for her complete run.

An Alice in Wonderland book series by Scott and Kuekes was published in France by Hachette in 1937-38. I haven't seen any of the books in person so I don't know if they are reprints of the strips or something different. As far as I know no reprint books were published in the U.S.


The Gnome looks a lot like Walter Scotts Little People. Didn't he have an early version of those in the thirties as well?
Hi Ger - I imagine you're thinking of Scott's "The Doonks", which usually ran on the same page with Kuekes at the Plain Dealer.

Hm... I wonder if they thought these up together or if they both got them from the same source. Especially that weird little hat they have.
While it's true that copyright terms were shorter back then, the Alice in Wonderland property was already pretty old when this strip debuted. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland was published in 1865 and Through the Looking Glass in 1871. This strip didn't debut until 63 years after the latter book was published.
Hi Joshua -
In today's Disney-influenced copyright law, a 63-year old Alice would still be safely wrapped in the protective cover of the little circled-c.

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