Tuesday, February 03, 2009
Obscurity of the Day: Punky
Magazine gag cartoonist Fred Balk made only one foray into newspaper cartooning if you don't count his occasional appearances in the generic gag panels such as This and That, Funny Angles and the like. You can hardly blame him for his reticence, though, considering that his one experience was a bad one -- working for the Associated Press' notoriously cheap feature division.
Balk's panel cartoon Punky ran for the span of a one year contract, from November 30 1936 to November 27 1937. Balk's kid was a little wiseacre, always looking for trouble and seldom having trouble finding it. He bore a passing resemblance to Percy Crosby's Skippy and had a similar little tough guy attitude.
Fred Balk, for all I know, was a phantom. I can find no biographical information on him at all despite the fact that he was a very prolific gag cartoonist for many years. I guess I shouldn't be too surprised, though, since many of these second-tier gagsters left little behind but their drawings. Note to writers; a reference work to magazine gag cartoonists would be a welcome addition to many libraries.