Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Obscurity of the Day: Robin Malone
Although Bob Lubbers' Robin Malone never really succeeded as a newspaper strip, these days it's considered something of a minor classic.
The strip followed the adventures of a buxom rich gal in a story of romance and intrigue. The dailies did most of the storytelling while the Sundays, as you can see above, became a playground in which Lubber's graphic imagination could run wild.
The art, quite derivative of the Al Capp inspired style that Lubbers had introduced in Long Sam, tends to give the impression that the strip was more lighthearted than it usually was. My guess is that this element held the strip back; at least I have always found it a bit jarring to read a dramatic continuity with art this 'cartoony'. On the other hand, Lubbers might have been trying to fake out newspaper readers, few of whom were interested in following adventure strips by the 1960s. Between that and the lovingly drawn chesty babes perhaps Lubbers figured he was improving his odds.
Robin Malone was offered by NEA but I get the impression it may not have been included with their standard package but rather as an additional cost extra. At least it appeared in so many fewer papers than the rest of the NEA line-up that this seems to be a possible conclusion. NEA did that sort of thing every once in awhile, rarely if ever with much success.
Maurice Horn claims in his World Encyclopedia of Comics that the strip only ran a year. However in actuality Robin Malone ran daily from March 20 1967 to March 14 1970, the Sunday from March 19 1967 to March 8 1970. According to Ron Goulart, always a far more reliable source, the writing was farmed out to Paul S. Newman for the first six months, and Stu Hample thereafter.
Lubbers' use of color, on the two examples you posted here, is really striking. Some of the NEA strips of the '50s and '60s are surprisingly good, given that those were the end times for quality newspaper comics...