Wednesday, February 08, 2012


Obscurity of the Day: Spoffin'

Melvin Tapley's gag panel feature Spoffin' has a name that sent me off looking for definitions. The Brits use the slang term to mean something fabulous or brilliant. Unabridged dictionaries tell us it means fussy or officious. Slang dictionaries are divided -- some say it means to lie, others that it refers to male ejaculation. What was Tapley's take on the meaning? Take your pick. Maybe he liked them all.

Tapley produced Spoffin', whatever the heck the title means, for the New York Amsterdam News from August 29 1942 to August 19 1944. Before 1944 it was a regular weekly feature, in 1944 it ran sporadically. The middle two panels above are good examples of the more permissive attitude the black papers had about subject matter -- white papers would never allow a cartoon that referred to women's breasts or to defecation, even somewhat veiled references as above.


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