Wednesday, April 25, 2018
Obscurity of the Day: The Lively Ones
After a long run on Susie Q. Smith from King Features in the 1940s and 50s, the cartooning team of Linda and Jerry Walter (art and writing, respectively) tried to take their act back on the road with The Lively Ones. The new panel cartoon, which switched focus from teenagers to seniors, was initially accepted for syndication by Newsday Specials, debuting May 17 1965.
The new feature didn't find a lot of takers, but then again, Newsday Specials was not known for launching big hits. The Walters, used to the marketing aces at King, were probably aghast. Less than six months after the panel debuted, The Lively Ones jumped ship from Newsday to the Chicago Tribune-New York News Syndicate. There at least the panel would be shown to newspaper editors, so it could sink or swim based on its own merits.
Evidently its own merits were a little too slight, though. The Chicago Tribune and New York Daily News (which ran it as The Oldtimers) dropped it on February 11 1967, and that seems to have been the end of the road for The Lively Ones. Maybe newspaper editors failed to find a panel about seniors interesting, or maybe it was the lack of continuing characters, or perhaps the gags were a little too elderly. My guess? Linda's artwork is top-notch, but she drew seniors as universally fat unpleasant-looking wrinkle bags, so maybe that's what put editors and readers off. I guess the world wasn't ready for sexy senior citizens in the 1960s.