Wednesday, October 02, 2013
Obscurity of the Day: Claire & Weber
On the face of it, Claire & Weber seems a transparent C&H wannabee -- change the little boy into a little girl, and the tiger into a frog, and what more could newspaper readers pining for the original want? Well, not Claire & Weber. Calvin and Hobbes it ain't. But what it is is a darn good strip on its own terms, with perceptive, well-written gags and nice art. The strip does have plenty of imagination, but it's far more down to earth than C&H, and Claire is written as a more average, typical kid than Calvin. The strip is also gentler, more rooted in what kids of the 90s do in their free time (computer games for instance) and the relationship between Claire and her parents is warm but able to stand a little strife then and again.
Claire & Weber was introduced as a Sunday and daily strip by King Features on January 5 1998, and didn't find a lot of clients out of the gate. In 1999 Shannon shortened the title to Claire, presumably realizing that the frog character invited unfortunate comparisons, and was a crutch he really didn't need. Not having seen late strips in this series, I don't know if the frog was dropped entirely, or just sliced out of the title. Unfortunately, the writing was already on the wall, and the strip was cancelled sometime in 2000 (anyone know the specific date?).
It's too bad Doug Shannon has gone on to other pursuits. I think that if freed from the need to produce a copycat 'product' rather than an artistic expression all his own, we could have had a stripper to reckon with.
For Sundays it was reported that Shannon ran a December 31, 2000 strip and titled it "Final December 31, 2000 Final".
The January 14, 2001 Santa Rosa Press Democrat ran a notice stating, "Starting today, The Press Democrat will add Prince Valiant to its comic strip pages, replacing Claire."
Seemingly putting the last Sunday strip on January 7, 2001. The above dates are hearsay and not eye-witness facts.
...skipping Prince Valiant comments, the Press Democrat continued:
"Claire debuted as Claire and Weber, the story of a little girl
and her talking frog, and was created by cartoonist Doug Shannon of Santa Rosa. King Features Syndicate, which also distributes Prince Valiant and many other strips, canceled Claire, Shannon said last week.
'I have a new strip in negotiation now, so I hope to have something
out within the year,' Shannon said.
Never heard anything more about the new strip.