Wednesday, January 09, 2013
Obscurity of the Day: Out of Bounds
Out of Bounds was an attempt to bring some humor back to American sports sections. While some papers in the 1980s did include Tank McNamara or Gil Thorp in the sports section, most papers seem to have lost interest in having a bright spot of cartooning there. Rechin and Wilder came up with the idea of a sports panel that could easily be dropped on a big sports news day. Unlike the other sports features, one of which was a continuity strip, the one-off gags of Out of Bounds were unlikely to cause reader ire should they go missing for a day now and again.
The feature debuted on June 2 1986, syndicated by Rupert Murdoch's short-lived News America Syndicate. Out of Bounds was especially layout-friendly by being offered in both standard panel and comic-strip style format (the latter seen above). I originally thought the strip format option was dropped after the first few years, but I've now found both formats being used much later in the run.
News America sold out to Hearst in December 1986, and both Crock and Out of Bounds moved to King Features' new little brother, North America Syndicate, in March 1987.
Out of Bounds supposedly started with a very healthy client list of 175 papers. However, as seldom as I saw the strip during its running years, I get the feeling there were a lot of sales to papers who had good intentions, but ended up running it sporadically if at all. There was even a Sunday page of the strip, which is even more seldom seen. It was dropped around 1995, two years before the daily was dropped by North America Syndicate. In 1997-98, Rechin and Wilder self-syndicated the feature, though it is unclear if they were selling new material or reprints. In either case, their self-syndication company, Crock Associates, seemed to have pretty decent luck selling the feature, but I suppose all the extra work of self-syndication was more than the team bargained for, and the offering ended.
By the way, what was the Sunday like? A collection of gags of one big one, like Bizarro?