Monday, June 18, 2018
Obscurity of the Day: Once Upon a Time
The idea of a fable, it seems to me, is to teach children a lesson but present it in a manner that entertains and stimulates their imagination. This is done by use of metaphor. That fellow Aesop showed future fableteers the way -- hide your message in an interesting drama using unusual characters; if the story is memorable, the message will sink in and take hold. You don't need to use a hammer to drive in this sort of nail; a feather will take awhile, but will be the best tool in the end.
Clyde Ludwick penned the fable series Once Upon a Time for the New York Tribune's Sunday comics section from January 7 1917 to January 27 1918*. Ludwick had an intriguing sketchy art style, but the fable-telling was utterly hopeless. Each episode presents a fable in which the message is delivered not just with a hammer, but like the bombing of Dresden. In the second example above, characters are named after the qualities they are to illustrate, leaving the reader no need to have any imagination whatsoever. And in case the reader is a complete and absolute blockhead, the message of the fable is spelled out as clearly as humanly possible on the right side of the title bar.
Tune in tomorrow for an Ink-Slinger Profile about Clyde Ludwick with an unexpected twist.
* Ken Barker's New York Tribune index