Tuesday, July 13, 2010
Obscurity of the Day: Graves, Inc.
Pat Brady hit major pay-dirt with his strip Rose Is Rose, which has now run for over a quarter century. But before that there was Graves, Inc., a strip that took a very different view of life than the ever-bubbly and positive Rose and family.
The star of the strip was Winston Graves, who runs a company in the best Ebenezer Scrooge tradition. He treats his terrorized employees like dirt, cheats his customers, and will stop at nothing to make a buck. Pretty typical boss, in other words. I find the strip hilarious and the Winston character a deliciously evil star, but newspaper editors by and large elected to take a pass on the strip. Given the over-the-top sunniness of Rose is Rose, I'm guessing that Brady was told that Graves, Inc. didn't succeed because it was too dark and negative (after all, that's why Dilbert was such a flop, right?). He really must have taken those reviews to heart when for his second syndication attempt he took such a complete 180 degree turn.
Rose is Rose fans might look at the art on this earlier strip and wonder if it can possibly be by the same Pat Brady. There seems to be no resemblance at all. Yet if you go back to early Rose is Rose, which started in 1984 (not 1994 as you'll see cited all over the web) you'll find a strip full of bulbous-headed, rather ugly people just like in this strip.
Graves, Inc. was distributed by the Register and Tribune Syndicate from October 6 1980 until sometime in 1983 (anyone know the exact end date?). If you'd like to see more of the feature, a reprint book, Graves Inc. Derides Again, was issued in 1988 by Caputo Publishing. It's available from several out-of-print booksellers, though the price is a bit on the heavy side.