Wednesday, November 04, 2015
Obscurity of the Day: The Geevum Girls
Above is the only sample I have in my collection of The Geevum Girls. Luckily, you can see a nice batch of examples over at Barnacle Press.
The strip was about the Geevum family, but focused mainly on the teenage sisters, one gorgeous, the other plain. An odd conceit of the strip is that the Geevum sisters were never named, which was a pretty tough trick but rather pointless. The strip is mostly a string of slapstick gags, but occasionally a continuing storyline spiced things up a bit.
It is appropriate to be checking this strip out right now, as it is an early entry from Hearst's King Features Syndicate, which is this year celebrating their hundredth anniversary. King, of course, is now probably the largest syndicate in the world. When King Features was created in 1915, though, it did not initially focus on comics, and those that it did start carrying in the 1910s were lesser features, sold on the cheap to less affluent newspapers. The Geevum Girls, which began in or slightly before July 1919, for instance, ran in no major papers that I know of, but could be found in quite a few suburban newspapers who were unable to get better material because they were frozen out by exclusivity agreements. The King Features juggernaut that handled all of Hearst's comic strip properties, the one we have come to know, didn't really come into existence until the early 1930s when Hearst's various syndicates started to finally consolidate under that banner.
As best I can tell, The Geevum Girls probably expired on or slightly after July 17 1920, which would make the run a nice even year long. Although it was probably missed by no one, the plates were evidently sold off to one of the reprint syndicates, and you can find it re-running in small papers starting in 1924 and as late as 1935. The clothing and topical gags would have looked utterly ridiculous by then, but hey, never mind!
Creator Tim Early had a knack for making stale old gags seem almost fresh, and his cartooning was naive but energetic, but he never did another strip that I know of. He did occasionally contribute to one of Hearst's multi-creator romantic cartoon features.