Monday, July 22, 2013
Obscurity of the Day: Excuse It, Please!
George Swanson, who signed himself 'Swan', managed to turn wild success into abject failure. I say that because for a full decade (1927-37) he produced the 1-column panel Nonsense, which ran in a huge number of papers. But then either he or King Features decided to scrap Nonsense and replace it with this 2-column panel with the ungainly title Excuse It, Please. It did give Swanson a little more elbow room to draw, but the new panel, which used stand-alone gags without a unifying theme, pointed out that Swanson's gift for slapstick and silliness didn't necessarily make him a good single-panel gag-man. Swanson could produce a few good cartoons per week in this format, but the rest were right out of Joe Miller's jokebook. Excuse It, Please debuted on October 23 1937 and the last its been seen was April 2 1938.
Why King Features decided that this move was a good idea I can't imagine. If nothing else, why didn't they have someone continue Nonsense, a popular panel that took nearly zero effort to write, to another cartoonist?
On the other hand, I wonder if perhaps Nonsense was allowed to die because it's popularity was actually due to it being part of the low cost Central Press Association package for small papers. Nonsense, and its nearly constant companion, Noah Numskull, were both part of King's CPA package, and that package seemed to be getting phased out in 1937. Perhaps when editors were offered Nonsense as a feature that actually had to be paid for, the response was a resounding, "No"?
Thanks to Cole Johnson for the samples!