Tuesday, June 30, 2009


Obscurity of the Day: Louie and Franz

We tend to think of Gus Mager as the king of the monks in the oughts and teens, but he did plenty of series featuring other animals, and even (gasp!) humans on occasion.

Here's one of his least memorable efforts, Louie and Franz. This pair of German-accented bears (they are bears, right? It can be hard to tell with Mager) had nothing special going for them. The two buttinskis get comeuppance for sticking their noses in touchy situations. Not much ha-ha there. It's amazing what slight effort was expected in a strip in those days if you were using dialect dialogue. At this late date we can only assume that since this sort of base humor proliferated on the comics pages that it was in fact entertaining its audience. Today even if we make allowances for it and don't take offense it is often impossible to detect even the barest bit of humor.

Louie and Franz ran in Hearst's New York Evening Journal from December 23 1904 to January 3 1905. It appeared just four times.

Thanks to Cole Johnson for the scan!


It's 1904, and the discussion in the bullpen goes something like this:

"Hey Gus!"

"What? I'm having a heck of a time trying to figure out what to draw next. Leave me alone!

"I've got a sure-fire idea. Why not take two things that the readers love - the Katzenjammer Kids and talking animal strips - and combine them?"

"Yeah, sure. Why not? If it bombs, in a hundred years no one will care anyway."
... and use Maud the mule, too. Comedy gold!

Oh yes! Maud! Should have seen that one! And by the end of the run, did they have the German Bears waking up from a saurkraut dream too???
Nah, they were paddled by Mr. Jack and posted a resolution that they would be better bears in the future.
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