Thursday, September 19, 2013
Obscurity of the Day: Arnold
McCormick's schtick in the strip is that Arnold is a potent combination of out of control, imaginative, and extremely well-spoken. So when he gets excited, angry, annoyed, or just about anything else, the usual result is a rant. Arnold's rants are pretty darn epic in scope and originality. When Arnold isn't ranting, he finds no shortage of other reasons to hold forth, and so the strip is often a sea of word balloons. Which is not at all a bad thing, because McCormick's cartooning ability is ... well, let's call it a great example of the naive school, shall we?
Although a cult hit, Arnold never really took off in the mainstream. According to McCormick the strip topped out with 56 client papers, and he says that in newspaper reader polls his strip tended to get about as many votes for 'worst strip' as for 'best'.
What I remember most about Arnold (it ran in a paper I saw frequently) is that the printing of the Sundays was truly awful. The word balloon text always seemed to be washed out and full of printing losses, and the coloring was a sickening miasma. Having since then clipped Arnold Sundays from various other Sunday papers, I find that this was not a circumstance limited to my paper, but seemed to be the norm. I don't know why Arnold was universally badly printed, but I think that may go some way to explain its lack of success. For the record, I had to look through about a hundred Sundays in order to find these four you see above, as almost all of my samples were so badly printed that they were beyond redemption, not worth scanning.
Field Newspapers was the original syndicate, which during the run of Arnold changed to News America Syndicate, and then North America Syndicate. After a little over a year with the final syndicate, Arnold was cancelled on
Arnold is Kevin McCormick's only syndicated comic strip credit. In a 2008 interview with Charles Brubaker* he said that he had also ghost written a comic strip for awhile, though unfortunately he didn't name the feature. As of the interview date, he was a pastor and administrator for a church school.
* To see the interview, you may have to keep the page from completely loading -- if I let the page load completely, I am redirected to Brubaker's homepage.
We don't know who the voice might be.
But if they ever put a book out of each strip, you can bet I would purchase a copy.
By the way, Arnold also bantered a bit with the school cook.
Thanks for the post.