Saturday, October 05, 2013
Labels: Herriman's LA Examiner Cartoons
Friday, October 04, 2013
Sci-Friday starring Adam Chase
Adam Chase strip #41, originally published March 12 1967. For background on the strip and creator, refer to this post.
Labels: Adam Chase Sci-Friday
Thursday, October 03, 2013
Obscurity of the Day: Louie Unt Chakie
William Steinigans must have dreamed up this little series while sitting through an afternoon of vaudeville, and the New York World seems to have had the good sense to banish its appearances to the mono-color inside pages of the Funny Side Sunday section.
The strip ran from August 7 to October 16 1904.
Thanks to Cole Johnson for the scans!
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.
Tuesday, October 01, 2013
Stripper's Guide Bookshelf: It's Hammer Time
Mickey Spillane and Ed Robbins
Hardcover, 160 pages, $49.99
Hermes Press 2013
Before I say anything else about this collection, I think the most important thing is to compliment the folks involved in this book for managing to put together a full run of this very rare strip. That, I can say from years of collecting, was no small feat. They deserve our respect for that accomplishment, no matter any other positives and negatives they'll accrue in the rest of this review.
First let's focus on the positive, of which there is plenty. To open the discussion I have to come clean and admit that I am not a big fan of Spillane's writing or of the hard-boiled detective genre in general. I bought the book primarily because I was so impressed at the fact that they were able to amass the strips and wanted to support the effort. I approached reading the strip itself expecting not to be too enthused. I also considered that the newspaper comic strip operates under one of the strictest informal codes of decency possible, so if I were a big Spillane fan, I could expect this strip to be much watered down from his usual work.
I was pleasantly surprised, then, to find that I quite enjoyed some of the stories. The early dailies, penned supposedly by Joe Gill, were pretty awful -- the plots were so badly constructed. But after Gill's tenure, the daily stories took a big turnaround, and I quite enjoyed the balance of the stories. Artist Ed Robbins says he wrote these daily stories, and I'm certainly glad he took the bull by the horns.
In fact, I'm going to commit heresy here. The Sunday stories, which were apparently penned by Mickey Spillane himself, except for the final one, are better than Gill's, but no match for Robbins' in my opinion. Spillane's stories are too loosely plotted, tend to have too many characters running around to keep track of, and rely incessantly on Hammer's supposed ability to instantly mesmerize women in order to keep the detective alive and point him to the who of the whodunit. On the other hand, Robbins' plots have all the standard Hammer tropes, but they play out in a much more satisfying, logical and inventive manner. Maybe Robbins should have considered a career in writing?
Ed Robbins' art is a great match for the material. The necessary dark and moody film noirish feel is handled perfectly. The character design of Mike Hammer (looking like Spillane himself) and the all-important sexy 'dames' look just perfect in this strip.
I do have a complaint. I really wish the Sundays had not been so garishly over-restored. I can appreciate the tremendous amount of work that went into these restorations, but I feel, and I think I follow the general consensus, that restorers should not remove the original 4-color dot screen colors and replace them with full-process colors. To do so is to subvert the intentions of the artist and colorist, whose plans with their art and color choices were based on how they expected their work to be printed.
Being a comics restorer myself, I have wrestled with this question. In the desire to do everything I can do to make the work look new and fresh, I too went through a short phase where I zapped all or most of the existing colors out of Sundays and recolored them myself. I quickly saw that this was a case of my ego overruling my duty to the material. While it is nigh impossible to restore the colors on old tearsheets to proof sheet quality, it is better to do what we can within the stricture of maintaining the original look of the work. Sunday comics are generally printed badly, and we probably just need to accept that, and recognize that we aren't living in the world of CSI. The recoloring of these strips is an especial shame, because I think the grittiness of Mike Hammer is perfectly suited to the rough treatment of newspaper coloring.
PS: It is worth noting that the strips in the book begin with the daily release of April 20 1953, and the Sunday release of May 17 1953. In an article in Editor & Publisher (1/10/53), the initial release dates were given as March 9 and March 16 respectively. I assumed those dates to be correct, and those are the dates I cite in my book, American Newspaper Comics. I'm satisfied that the publishers of this book have discovered the correct starting dates, so you might want to pencil that information into your copy of my book.
Labels: Stripper's Guide Bookshelf
You're quite right. They were unable to find one Sunday, and they admit that in the front matter. I didn't even notice the omission while I was reading, so they certainly did get lucky to miss a strip that wasn't making important plot points.
Are the Hammer strips printed in a decent size?
The reproduction is at a good size. The dailies are at original 4-column newspaper size (and crisp for most of the run, which came from proofs). The Sundays are slightly reduced from tabloid, but plenty big enough.
Photoshop has always had:
It's not a true dot pattern with all the colours angled correctly but I've used it to recreate the texture of letterpress colour.
Not so easy, but not so hard...
A few days ago I've written about it in my (Italian) blog:
Monday, September 30, 2013
Obscurity of the Day: Mayor Mudge
In 1980 it might not have been the smartest strategy for cartoonist Bob Urso and the Chicago Tribune-New York News Syndicate to try to interest newspaper readers in Mayor Mudge. A scant six years after Nixon resigned from office, they faced a real uphill battle to convince readers to willingly take the side of a politician, even if it was a woman who ran for city mayor on a lark.
Urso did provide himself with a rich vein of humor to mine. Imagine a whole town full of wacky and unreasonable voters all knocking on the mayor's door to provide straight lines. Then you've got a city hall full of petty backbiting bureaucrats, not to mention an involuntary house-husband (in the days when that was still a noteworthy familial arrangement). The strip was obviously still finding its footing in the early months, but it did manage to get off some good gags -- the last example here being a sidewise slam at the Moral Majority, for instance. And I don't know how the third sample got past the censors -- if I'd been drinking coffee when I read that one there would have been a pretty good spit-take.
Mayor Mudge came and went with no notice or fanfare that I can detect. As best I can tell, the series began in December 1980 with Mudge unwittingly dumped into the race for mayor, and my latest samples come from September 1981. Anyone with further information about the extent of this run please contact me. Also, if you have any biographical information on Bob Urso, who seems to have not existed apart from this feature, please let me know.
Sunday, September 29, 2013
Jim Ivey's Sunday Comics
Labels: Jim Ivey's Sunday Comics