Saturday, February 16, 2008
The blog has been silent since Wednesday because that evening I spent several hours writing an erudite, perceptive and artful review (first time for everything, right?) of the reprint book Betsy and Me. I left final proofing for the next morning. I returned to the office and my computer was sitting at a login prompt. My review had disappeared into the ether. A little investigation revealed that sometime during the night Microsoft decided that it needed to download an update and reboot my machine to put it into effect, in process of which my review had been bid adieu. Thanks Microsoft -- you're swell! I've been pouting for the last two days.
Anyway, today is another Herriman Saturday, so I've been aroused from my torpor. Twasn't easy, I tell ya. Today we have Herriman observing Christmas day with a reminder that not everyone has a merry Xmas.
On the 26th we get a caricature of Walter Parker on the occasion of his announcement that he is quitting his puppeteer role in California politics. To no one's surprise his political string-pulling activities scarcely slow down.
Finally on the 27th we learn that boxer Jim Jeffries agrees to discount his asking price from $50k to $30k to face Australian champion Bill Squires in the squared circle. The telegram, which is no more legible in the original as it is here in this scan, reads "To B.F. Taylor, Athletic Club. Will meet Squires, April, thirty thousand purse. Write particulars. Jim Jeffries". The fight never came off, though. Perhaps Herriman will cover the circumstances in subsequent cartoons.
Labels: Herriman's LA Examiner Cartoons
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
News of Yore: Jeanie Strip to Debut - 1952
HT Syndicate Offers Jeanie, New D&S Strip
By Erwin Knoll (4/12/52)
Comic strip topics tend to move in cycles, and we think we've spotted the latest one— young and pretty girls cheerfully making their way through a fairly grim world. At least it looks like a cycle from here; there have been several new entries along those lines in recent months, and some of the older strips are showing signs of new life.
Anyhow, the Herald Tribune Syndicate is getting into the act with "Jeanie," a new strip which makes its bow in daily papers April 28. First Sunday page will be for May 4 release.
"Jeanie," in the words of the Herald Tribune Syndicate's enthusiastic promotion department, is as "natural as the girl next door ... A gay, intelligent honey, hailing from Marshalltown, Iowa, and dreaming the dream of every stage-struck youngster in the country: to take the main stream by storm!" The strip will be set in New York and will center around the efforts of Jeanie and her roommate, Susan, to break into show business.
The daily strip will have a continuous story line, but will feature a gag clincher in each day's release. On Sundays, the strip will be in the form of an illustrated letter to the folks back home in
Iowa, recounting the week's adventures. The Sunday strip will be half-page standard, but will include a "postscript" which may be dropped for optional third-page use.
Author of "Jeanie" is Selma Diamond, one of the writers for NBC's "Big Show," who presumably knows her way around show business. While attending New York University Miss Diamond worked as a reporter for the Brooklyn Eagle, then broke into the theatre by way of New York's straw hat circuit, where she wrote, acted and sang for the summer shows. She went to Hollywood in 1942 and wrote for some of the top radio comedy programs. Her background also includes a fling at movie script writing.
Art work on "Jeanie" will be by Gill Fox, who has been freelancing cartoons to newspapers and comic magazines. He has edited Quality Comics and contributed sports cartoons to the Long Island Press. During his wartime Army stint Mr. Fox drew "Bernie Blood," "Blood and Fire" and "Dogface" for service publications and contributed editorial cartoons to the Paris Stars and Stripes and to the now-defunct Paris Post.
[read more about Jeanie, and see a sample, on this blogpost from February 2006]
Labels: News of Yore
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
Obscurity of the Day: Adam Chase
Here's an obscurity that ran only in the Eugene (OR) Register-Guard. Adam Chase was a wacky sci-fi romp that, not too surprisingly, had the city of Eugene prominently featured amid the Martians and spaceship battles. The weekly strip, which ran in color, was published in 52 installments from June 5 1966 to May 28 1967. Russ Morgan was the creator.
Wish I had more to tell about this intriguing strip and its creator but my emails to Russ Morgan have gone unanswered. I'll be happy to pass along contact info if anyone else would like to try.
Thanks and a tip of the Stripper's Guide space helmet to Elaine Hetschel for sending samples and information about this rare strip.
Monday, February 11, 2008
News of Yore: Allen Saunders Defends Story Strips
One of the classics among gag cartoons shows a little blonde in a diaphanous negligee sitting on the lap of a beefy old Casanova in a bathrobe. "But, Daddykins!", she is wailing, "If we're not engaged, what are we?"
Sometimes when I am tricked into confessing what I do for a living, my questioner explodes with all the righteous wrath of a zealot scorning a heretic: "Those aren't comic strips. They aren't funny!" And, like the distressed doxy in the cartoon, I start brooding. If they aren't comic strips, what are they?
Actually, it isn't the semantic problem that bothers me. It is the accusing tone with which the charge is hurled, as if writing a serious "comic" strip were as revolting a crime as skinning Aunt
Harriet to make a lampshade. Granted, the term is an awkward misnomer, carried over from the past, but we are continually using words which have lost their original reference. Any kind of a weapon, even an air-gun, is "fired." Because we once drove horses, we continue to "drive" automobiles. Turbine-propelled ships always "sail." And I have a notion that all non-editorial cartoons, regardless of shape or content, will forever be called "comic" strips.
The memories of critics get fogged by nostalgia when it comes to comics. "Why aren't all your features funny," they ask an editor, "like they were when I was a kid—rich, native American humor?" I have grim news for the critics. I went back recently and read some of that native American humor. If it were printed today, anyone who laughed at it would be gently led away to the loony-bin. Most of it was the crudest of pointless slapstick.
This, of course, is not unnatural. In the history of a cultural form, the comic usually comes first, the serious follows. Just as stone-age humor marked the early comics—"Happy Hooligan," "Her Name Was Maud" and the rest of the hit-on-the-head school—so did the Keystone Cops dominate the early flickers and so did corny comedy monopolize the pioneering programs on radio and television. Today, in the latter medium, the Emmy awards go to shows like "Playhouse 90."
The story is repeated in the history of comic strips. The public was beginning to tire of "Wham!" and "Pow!" humor some 30-odd years ago, when Sol Hess began experimenting with continuity in "The Gumps." Hess kept the characters comic, but a serial story replaced the daily "joke." The new device was a real lifesaver. Comics creators, quick to sense a trend, went for it as whole-heartedly as 1957 car designers went for the shark-fin fender. Serial strips soon replaced the newspaper serial story as a circulation builder and, within a few years, Life magazine was to term them "America's favorite form of fiction."
Along in the late 30s, a further seep toward making the comic strip a legitimate narrative art form was taken when some of us started probing hitherto unexplored psychological depths, beefing up dialog for stronger characterization, and striving generally for the same audience reached by slick paper fiction in consumer magazines. Perhaps we are still shore of that goal, but story strips are more mature every day.
An aggressive syndicate salesman walked into the office of a great newspaper's editor recently and proposed that he throw out "all those soap-operas" and buy some of the new gag strips.
"We took a survey here recently," the editor replied, "and five of the six top ratings went to human interest fiction strips. One of the most widely acclaimed humor strips of this decade finished last. Apparently, nobody likes story strips except the readers!"
Obviously, this editor would never throw out humor and put nothing on his comic page but human interest. He knows that a successful Broadway season calls for both "Visit to a Small Planet" and "Long Day's Journey Into Night"; that amusing novels and starkly realistic novels rub covers on every public library shelf; that farce follows "Studio One" on television screens; that the same reader can enjoy gag strips and adventure strips.
I once attended a school where the athletes were called "Little Giants." That phrase is about as paradoxical as "serious comics." Some of the boys were little and some were giants. But they worked together, as a team, realizing that you needed both 130-pound quarterbacks and 200-pound tackles. And they won a lot of games.
Labels: News of Yore
Sunday, February 10, 2008
Jim Ivey's Sunday Comics
Order Jim Ivey's new book Cartoons I Liked at Lulu.com or order direct from Ivey and get the book autographed with a free original sketch.
Labels: Jim Ivey's Sunday Comics