Friday, October 02, 2009


Obscurity of the Day: Betty and her Beau

Cartoonist F.W. Parks was employed by the NEA syndicate from 1918-1921 and produced a spate of unmemorable series, of which Betty and her Beau was the last. It began on October 27 1920 and ended sometime in 1921. The end date is unclear -- the NEA archives at Ohio State University are incomplete for 1921, so the best I can do is that it ended sometime in the second quarter. Checking newspapers that ran NEA material is inconclusive since this strip tended to run ROP -- I've seen it running as late as September.

Betty and her Beau is a pretty straightforward copy of other 'pretty girl playing the field' strips of the time, like Polly and her Pals, Petey Dink and Bedelia's Beaus. Though predating the era when every second strip seemed to be about a flapper, they shared the same sensibility, heralding (and ridiculing) the arrival of the liberated woman. Cartoonist Parks certainly didn't add anything to the genre. His strips, drawn in the basic Landon School bigfoot style, have gags that seem to be cribbed from the competition and almost invariably end with that hacky 'falling out of the panel' pratfall.


I once saw a page full of Krazy Kat dailies, and even George Herriman felt he had to have characters falling backwards at the end. I think that was the comic strip equivelent of a laugh track.
Hello, Allan--What I find just as "hacky" (and quite dull) today is the deadpan stare at the reader in the last panel in modern strips.----Cole Johnson.
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