Monday, July 20, 2009


Obscurity of the Day: Cwaking Cwacks with Cwack

This strip ranks pretty high in the pantheon of weirdly titled features, and amazingly all the spelling stayed consistent on it from week to week. Consistency in titles and character names was a common shortcoming of these short-run strips back in the day.

Cwaking Cwacks with Cwack was a delightfully dippy feature of the McClure preprint sections from May 28 to November 12 1911. The strip, when it was signed at all, bore the signature "Quack". My guess is that the strip is by Everrett Lowry.

Among barnyard strips, which tended to be numbingly dull productions, Cwaking was a wonderful exception. Our educated duck and his/her dimwitted donkey pal really knew how to pull off good comedy, as can be seen above. "I'm all killed inside"!


Nice little piece. The art isn't bad at all - it reminds me a little bit of what Warner Bros. animation would look like by the early 1940's. In addition, it's interesting to see the limited colour palette here. That's something that I don't see mentioned very often, if at all, about some Sunday funnies. Not everything was four colour back in the day.
Good point Hugo. It should be noted that up through the teens the 'inside' pages of your typical Sunday comics section were at best three color jobs (black + 2 colors) or most often two colors like the above (black + in this case green). Some rinky-dink papers even ran the interior pages in one-color (and sometimes the one color wasn't black, a choice that makes for some really awful looking pages).

In the 1920s full four color printing expanded inside of the big city sections, though even the majors would often scrimp on one or two broadsheet sides. Only in the thirties did full color throughout become typical, though even then there were plenty of exceptions.

I was surprised to find a couple of "John Carter of Mars" Sundays printed in two colors in a major San Francisco paper...(the Chronicle? I don't have the paper at hand to confirm that) and black.
... and the Boston Globe, bastion of Yankee frugality, did some one-color pages into the 50s!

I have some WWII-era tearsheets of Prince Valiant and Flash Gordon in three colours - black, true red and green. It makes for an oddly pastel rendering of our manly heroes ...
Hello, Allan---I have some pre-printed 4-page sections up to December, 1946 that are black, white, and red only. These sections are from the the BELLINGHAM (Wash.) HERALD, and smply carry a generic masthead that says "COMIC SECTION", so it must have been offered (By KFS) to other small-town papers as well.-------------My two cents on CWAKING CWACKS..I just looked at quite a few of them, and I don't think Everett Lowry ever did the strip. "Quack" is the Otis F.Wood ghost artist, who cranked out a considerable amount of SAMBO, MAMA-LADE, BUB, POOR ROBINSON CRUSOE, and others. "CWAKING" might be the best thing this guy ever did, usually his work is pretty bad. Poor plotting, clumsy anatomy, ugly thick lines are the defining aspects of our friend "QUACK". ----Cole Johnson, snorting quack and going quackers in his quack house.
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