Tuesday, June 15, 2010


Obscurity of the Day: Dizzy Dramas

Dizzy Dramas was the comic strip equivalent of a utility man in baseball.While the examples above are printed in the manner in which its home paper used it, in syndication it's usually seen as a page-wide single tier of panels. This format, used by only a few features, was ideal for plugging holes at the bottom of a page. In syndication Dizzy Dramas is usually seen tacked onto the bottom of Sunday color comics pages in lieu of a generic footer panel.

The strip normally used stick figures for characters and large lettering (our second example above is an unusual entry with detailed art)  so it could be easily read where it typically lurked down at the bottom of the page. The gags were simple and didn't use continuing characters. Although the feature was a daily, few papers ran it more than once a week. However, some papers would run a whole weeks worth on Sundays by pasting a strip on the bottom of each page of the Sunday comics section.

Dizzy Dramas was distributed by the Ledger Syndicate of Philadelphia, and they initially ran it in their tabloid paper, the Philadelphia Sun. The feature started there on February 7 1927, though a contemporary article in Editor & Publisher cites a start date sometime in January. Eventually the long-running strip was moved over to the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin, where it ended on May 2 1942. Although this was probably the end of new material, the strip was sold in reprints for many years. I've seen it appearing as late as 1957.

The strip was credited to Joe Bowers, but Cole Johnson says that F. O. Alexander told him it "was a pseudonym for a fellow with an Italian name, which I've conveniently forgotten now."


Dizzy dramas also were reused as early as 1934 and as late as 1942 by Western Newspaper Union.
The umbrella gag was reused by Stan Lee at least twice.
Hello, Allan----Going back to a 1979 interview I did with F.O.Alexander, he said that "Joe Bowers'" real name was Hugh Dini (Deeney?). -----Morale got so low at the Ledger Syndicate, that they let Bowers/Dini do the last Hairbreadth Harry Sunday! (8-13-39)-----Any info on Hugh D.?----Cole Johnson.
Hugh Dini was a famous escape artist and magician. They made a movie about him starring Tony Curtis -- surely you remember!!


You see, it's stuff like this that drive one to change your name to Joe Bowers.
Hugh Joseph Deeney was born on April 18, 1894 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Hugh was the oldest of three sons born to John and Sarah, both Irish immigrants. According to Hugh's World War I Draft Registration Card, he was a self-employed artist in Chicago in 1917. In the 1920 Census, Hugh was a lodger on Manhattan's west side, and worked as an artist. In the 1930 Census Hugh had returned to Philadelphia, living with his parents; he worked as a newspaper artist. His life came to a tragic end.

Trenton Evening Times
May 12, 1943

Comics Artist Killed on Camp Rifle Range

Philadelphia, May 12 (AP).
Hugh J. Deeney, 41, Philadelphia artist, who drew
the comic strip "Dizzy Dramas" under the name
Joe Bowers, was killed accidentally yesterday on
the rifle range of Camp Blanding, Fla., the War
Department notified his family.

Hugh was actually 49 at the time of his death.
Well I'll be damned. I thought that Cole was pulling my leg.
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