Wednesday, August 12, 2015
Obscurity of the Day: The Connoisseur
One of the odder comic strips you'll ever encounter is The Connoisseur. The oddnesses just pile on, one after another, until you have an amazing skyscraper tower of weirdness.
First of all, the basic idea of a comic strip devoted to fashion advice is a bit screwy. What's wrong with text and photos? Why a comic strip? Is there a worry that the illiterate aren't getting the latest word in hem lengths? Do preschoolers have a yen to know whether herringbone or houndstooth is in this year?
Secondly, our comic strip host Mr. Van Der View seems to be a rather creepy old man. He can't manage to keep his concentration to write a check in a bank when some shapely female wrists are visible. Geez. A revealing dress I could get. But getting the cold sweats over a bracelet? Then again, I suppose he might not seem QUITE as creepy if his head wasn't shaped like a bewhiskered Pac-Man. But it is. Why, oh why? Lucky for the old creep, he's apparently loaded. So he has no trouble keeping the shapely young ladies, the ones with dollar signs in their eyes, hanging around. Even when all he wants to do is ogle them and then criticize their clothes.
So if all that wasn't bad enough, The Connoisseur indulges itself with one final coup de grace. They tell their creepy little fashion stories in verse. Oh, c'mon. All that weirdness plus tortured doggerel, too? Now you're just messing with us.
The bizarre train wreck that was The Connoisseur actually had a more substantial run than the week or two you might have guessed. It ran from August 29 1927 to December 8 1928. On the other hand, you won't be at all surprised to find that the creator(s) declined to take any credit on the strip, ever. Even the syndicate tried to hide itself. Though Bell Syndicate was the distributor, the copyright slug on the strips is to some firm called Standard Publishing. Why I dunno.
According to an anonymous online dealer from whom I bought some original art to this strip (no, really, I did), he got it on good authority that the artist was a fellow named Alex Kurfiss.