Monday, July 25, 2016

 

Obscurity of the Day: Clyde





Once upon a time there were two brothers. They both had enormous heads and doughy round bodies, which suited them just fine. Both brothers were brought up to be faultlessly cheery, to always look on the bright side of life, and to turn the other cheek. Sadly, the world took advantage of their positive attitudes and seemed to throw an endless series of obstacles, pointless meanness, odd events, and just plain bad luck in their way. It was very hard for the brothers, but they persevered.

The older brother, named Clyde, was ten years the senior. When he was old enough to fend for himself in the world, he got a job at the Times-Mirror Syndicate through his good friend, cartoonist Bill Brewer. The syndicate welcomed Clyde with open arms, because Brewer told them of his strangely uncharmed life, and Brewer promised to chronicle his misfortunes in a daily comic strip. This may seem a bit mercenary, but the syndicate and Bill Brewer knew that Clyde couldn't get any other sort of work, and they felt that he was entitled to at least make a living from his strange life.

But Clyde's bad luck spilled over into his job. After his debut on the comics page on April 3 1961, it became evident that the story of his life was just not the fodder for a successful comic strip, at least in the opinions of the nation's newspaper editors. Thus, in yet another cruel turn for Clyde, his strip was cancelled after little more than three months, nowhere near enough time to find an audience. The strip came to an end on July 24.

Despite his upbringing to have a relentlessly positive attitude, Clyde could not take this last horrific turn of events. He disappeared and was never heard from again. Some say he drank himself to death, others say he became a hermit in the Himalayas.

No matter what became of him, one thing is certain. He left his little brother alone to fend for himself. But that little brother of his had an even sunnier disposition than Clyde, and he refused to say die in the face of everything that happened to him.

Ten years after Clyde disappeared the climate of the country was different -- much less buttoned-down and more open-minded. People were now better able to sympathize with a doughy little unlucky fellow with a massive head. When, strangely enough, another cartoonist came into the picture, the two got together and decided to try the same thing that Clyde and Bill Brewer attempted a decade earlier. And lo and behold, they were right that a new day had dawned, and the strip was a huge success! Although Clyde's younger brother was still beset with an awfully unlucky life, he did so with millions of people watching him, feeling sorry for him, and making him very wealthy.

But there is one thing that younger brother cannot stand, and that's to talk about his beloved and much-missed brother Clyde. And that's why in little brother Ziggy's comic strip you will never ever hear Clyde's name mentioned.


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