Friday, September 23, 2011
Obscurity of the Day: Butter & Boop
Butter & Boop is an example of a comic strip that tended to forget that nagging problem of being funny. And no wonder -- the comic strip was begun under the aegis of Black Light Inc., an inner city arts project that was sponsored by a do-gooder starch magnate (yes, there really is such a thing). The studio began in 1968 with a full complement of budding artists, but most drifted away until there were but two -- Louis Slaughter and Edward J. Carr. For reasons that seem a little misty in the retelling, these two guys, who seemed to have basically no interest in comic strips, began producing Butter & Boop. With starch money buoying up the self-syndicated operation and a big-hearted magnate encouraging these guys to "tell it like it is", a few papers were found to take the daily strip, which first appeared on May 15 1969.
The samples above are from two years into the run, and you'll have to take my word for it that the quality of the strip had already improved by leaps and bounds. The early stuff is quite militant and pugnacious in its desire to 'expose' inner city life to suburban newspaper readers. Although that flavor is still there two years later, Slaughter and Carr were toning it down and trying to entertain a little instead of beating readers over the head.
It was at this point that they were able to interest McNaught Syndicate in distributing the strip. McNaught took over syndication on May 17 1971. Despite the marketing push of a major syndicate, the strip found few new takers. The fact that the strip was still a little on the rough side, and that the similarly themed Wee Pals was in its heyday were the probable obstacles. Butter & Boop was with McNaught for a bit over two years; they seem to have parted ways in August 1973. The creators commented later in a February 1974 Ebony feature article that they didn't feel the syndicate did enough to market the strip and so they went back to self-syndication.
At that point the strip becomes really hard to find. Reading between the lines of the Ebony article the strip may have been down to two clients, the Kansas City Star and the Nashville Tennessean, neither of which I've had an opportunity to check. In the Ebony article, the creators seem to be saying that self-syndication was too much of a drain on their time and that if a syndicate couldn't be found then Butter & Boop was not going to continue much longer. The last indication I find that it was running is a citation that the co-creators got a Lord Calvert Whiskey Men of Distinction award in 1975.