Tuesday, June 03, 2008
Obscurity of the Day: Einstein
Been well over a month since we did an obscurity of the day. We'll chip off the rust and oil the joints with this delightful little strip, Einstein by Jay Heavilin and Frank Johnson. The strip ran just a little over a year, from January 6 1964 through February 13 1965.
Einstein was a really neat idea. It was a light-hearted adventure punctuated almost daily with puzzles and riddles of various kinds. Read the strip, solve the puzzle and tune in tomorrow to see if you got it right. The only fly in the ointment is that limited to a diminutive daily format there wasn't much room to get fancy with the puzzles. Perhaps even worse, the strip was distributed by the George Matthew Adams Service which was on its last legs at the time. Wouldn't surprise me a bit if the strip was barely even marketed.
The creators were already old hands; Jay Heavilin was a writer for NEA; he's the fellow that wrote a lot of those short-run factual strips NEA was always giving out. He also scripted Vic Flint, a few years of Kevin the Bold and probably lots of others for which he took no credit.
Frank Johnson at the time was getting a little work from the New York Daily News doing filler strips in their Sunday comics section, but his bread was buttered mostly in comic book work. He later hooked up with Mort Walker to do the art on Boner's Ark, and then in the early 80s he would add Bringing Up Father to his workload, a strip that he stuck with until the bitter end.
Thanks to Jeffrey Lindenblatt for the running dates from the Staten Island Advance.
Puzzle features have been appearing in Sunday comics sections from the very earliest days of the form. There were even Ting-Lings puzzles in 1894. What's exceedingly rare, though, is to make the puzzles an integral part of an ongoing comic strip storyline.