Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Obscurity of the Day: The Orbits
I saw the old listings for The Orbits in E&P well before I finally stumbled upon some samples of the strip. Not having seen it, I assumed that it would be some interesting futuristic 'Jetson-y' sort of thing. Turns out not so much. The strip is a rather pedestrian drama-comedy about a typical American family. Why are they called the Orbits? I dunno.
The strip was by Bill Juhre, who was coming off a modestly successful five-year run as the artist on Draftie, a strip about a couple of soldiers. Draftie had tried to adapt to a post-war world but newspaper editors had a lot of wartime strips trying the same gambit and Draftie was one of the features that didn't make the cut.
The Orbits may well have been intended as a drop-in replacement for Draftie (which, by the way, was named Lem and Oinie in its last few years). Both strips were syndicated by the John F. Dille Company. I don't have a definite starting date for The Orbits, but I wouldn't be surprised if it debuted the day after Lem and Oinie ended on May 4 1946. I do know that early on the strip was titled The Orbit Family, and the shortened version of the title followed quite early on.
The Orbits ran daily and Sunday until May 31 1953 in what seems like a very respectable seven-year run. However, you find the strip appearing in very few papers throughout that time, and usually it ran in third- and fourth-string papers in big cities -- the guys who had to pick over comic strip crumbs in the days of territory exclusivity contracts.
Alberto Becattini cites Juhre doing assist work on the Buck Rogers Sunday 1957-58.
"Readers express shock"