Wednesday, November 16, 2011
Obscurity of the Day: Mr. & Mrs. Pippin
What does shine through on these samples very clearly is that Frank Willard, long before Moon Mullins, was already fascinated with the comic possibilities of the lower classes and the seamy underbelly of life. These strips are very raw-boned and tough-minded, with Willard giving no quarter to the miserable and most likely cuckolded Mr. Pippen. His wife is a tart, a brat and a harridan with no redeeming qualities. The cops, who figure large in their misbegotten marriage, are arrogant and moronic. In short, the strip is uncomfortably realistic -- played for laughs like a funhouse reflection, but leaving the reader with the troubling sensation that Willard knows whereof he speaks.
Mr. and Mrs. Pippen ran in the Chicago Herald starting on April 1 1917, and ran through April 28 1918. The title changed to Mrs. Pippen's Husband on July 1 1917. The strip was sold by some outfit in reprints, as I've found it running in the Ogden Standard in 1919.
Thanks to Cole Johnson for the samples!
The final date must have extra significance as the J.Keeley syndicate and the Chicago Herald only had a few weeks left when the Herald was merged with Hearst's Chicago morning paper to form the Herald and Examiner.