Tuesday, December 12, 2017
Obscurity of the Day: Life in the Suburbs / Community Capers
We've discussed Al "Mutt and Jeff" Smith's weekly comics service before, and for the record, I'm still looking for newspapers that ran the complete output of the syndicate for long periods of time. Anyone? Bueller?
The syndicate's offerings were pretty well cemented in during the 1950s, but a latecomer was Life in the Suburbs. It was drawn by Al himself, who was already contributing Rural Delivery to the syndicate page. I'm guessing that Smith was looking to add a feature that was geared specifically to non-rural newspapers, which were his typical clients. Suburban papers were a good market (they generally paid better than rural papers) and so Smith evidently swept the hayseeds away in hopes of appealing to them. In fact, to make sure his appeal was broad, Smith offered this panel series under an alternate title, Community Capers, to further appeal to newspapers that were non-rural, but also not in the 'burbs.
The weekly panel was first advertised in 1964, but Mark Johnson has managed to find what might be the first panel, appearing in the first week of December 1963. Under the title Life in the Suburbs, the series was advertised until 1994, whereas the Community Capers title seems to have been dropped after 1972. I'd lay a pretty sizeable bet that in later years Smith recycled material for this series, as he did with most of his other offerings.
If you have my book, it's time to get out your red pen. Even though I knew at the time that the two panels were the same (the fact is noted in the Community Capers listing) somehow I goofed and ended up giving entries to both titles. So take your pick, but put a big red X through either the Community Capers listing (#1257) or Life in the Suburbs (#3582).