Friday, March 26, 2010

 

Obscurity of the Day: Funny Fizzles




Do you remember back in the '70s when fads seemed to come fast and furious out of nowhere and disappear just as quickly? Here's one I remember well -- the fad of oddball antique inventions. Seemed like every paper, magazine and TV show was crowing about crazy inventions like chicken-powered butter warmers and shaving cream for babies. I particularly recall a game show where a panel of celebrities (B-list luminaries like Charles Nelson Reilly) were presented with some antique doodad. Each member of the panel would come up with a story about the item's intended use and the contestants had to guess who was telling the truth. Watched it religiously but don't recall the name.

Anyhow, here's one product of that short-lived fad. Funny Fizzles was a Sunday-only panel distributed by NEA. For some reason it was not in the NEA archives at Ohio State University, so I only learned about it recently when I stumbled upon a run in the Miami Herald. The running dates there were May 9 1976 to July 31 1977. The creators were James Molica, writer, and William Nellor, art. Neither has any other newspaper feature credits that I know of.

As I was preparing this post I discovered there was a reprint book of the feature issued in 1978. I ordered a copy and maybe it will reveal a little more about the creators.

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Comments:
Hello, Allan----That show you remember with the oddball gadgets was THE LIAR'S CLUB.--Cole Johnson.
 
You have entirely too much information stuffed away in that giant noggin of yours, Cole. You're absolutely right, of course. For extra bonus points, who was the host and who was the regular panelist on that show. I remember one guy was always on the panel (the others changed regularly) and he was really funny and inventive with his stories (or rather in hindsight I suppose the writers gave him the best material). I remember his presence but can't recall who it was. It wasn't that annoying Charles Nelson Reilly, of that I'm certain. I wouldn't have watched it if he was on there.

--Allan
 
That show actually had two hosts during its run but I can only remember one of them: Allen Ludden. And the panel regular was Larry Hovis from "Hogan's Heroes" though I believe David Letterman was an occasional panelist as well. (I remember way too much about this considering it wasn't a show I was all that fond of.) - Tony
 
Larry Hovis sounds right. Never would have been able to pull that name out of the memory banks.
 
I have no sources for the following but my notes have the feature beginning sometime in March of 1976,
I have no end date for the comic.
Also - I have the Bill Nellor as artist and Jim Molica as writer,
again no source.
It did run in one of my local papers,
my very incomplete indexes of that time are buried somewhere.
 
Hi DD --
I assume something I saw in the Miami paper caused me to make the credit choices I did, because normally on iffy writing/art credits I'll say in my notes that they're questionable. Hopefully the reprint book will clear things up.

--Allan
 
The Liar's Club's first version was the late 1960's and early 1970's one with Rod Serling hosting. Wasn't that the one with the strange objects?
 
I remember this strip! As I recall, my local newspaper (Santa Rosa Press Democrat, Calif.) published a feature article and ran the strip because one or both of its creators were local guys inspired to do a comic after taking a cartooning class that Charles Schulz taught at the junior college. Don't remember the details, but Schulz may have provided some encouragement and coaching. An odd connection in the annals of cartoon history.
 
Dear Mr. Holtz---How dare you say I was annoying? Just because I'm dead doesn't mean I don't read Stripper's Guide very day. Hunh-Hunh-Hunh! ----Charles Nelson Reilly.
 
DD is right, I had the creator credits reversed. It is now fixed.
 
I am the creator of Funny Fizzles and still alive at 87 and pursuing the arts in Santa Rosa, CA. Jim Molica was a former account executive with Young & Rubicam San Francisco where I also served as Art Supervisor. Molica did the research and contact with the newspaper agency. He also talked Schultz into adding an intro to the book published by Signet Pocket Books, since Schultz lived in the Santa Rosa area, otherwise Schultz was totally uninvolved in the project.

After many years in advertising in San Francisco and with my own advertising agency in Santa Rosa I retired and spent 10 years designing items for the tourists trade in Maui. Since returning to Santa Rosa I enjoy painting and contribute cartoons to the Sierra Club in their Northern Ca tabloid.

Funny Fizzles was done on a whim but soon became too much of a time consuming burden that interfered with my advertising projects. After having it published in pocketbook form by Signet Books we decided to terminate it.
 
Thank you for writing, Mr. Nellor! Any chance that you know the official running dates of your feature?

Thanks, Allan
 
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