Monday, September 24, 2018
Obscurity of the Day: Deb Days
As it is with many actual debs, Deb Days is lovely to look at, but that's where the attraction ends. The more time you spend, the more vapid the subject seems.
Deb Days debuted from Philadelphia's Public Ledger Syndicate on April 18 1927*, a product of writer Litta Mabie and cartoonist/illustrator Charles J. Coll. Coll's art on the strip is superb (see top two samples), but Mabie's writing spoils the fun. It becomes apparent very quickly that Mabie feels nothing but disdain for debutantes, which is fine unless you have contracted to write a freaking daily comic strip about them. She writes only about their faults and foibles, taking great joy out of unmasking their every inadequacy. What's more, Mabie's writing itself is grating. She feels the need to put "hashmarks" around every "dratted" "term" that she "fancies" could be considered "slang". It "drives one bonkers", "I guarantee".
After a few months Coll had evidently had enough of the torture of reading her scripts and begged off the assignment. Replacing him on June 20 1927 was Earle K. Bergey. Bergey was fresh out of art school, and this was his most high profile assignment to date. He would go on to become a highly respected and prolific painter of pulp and paperback covers in the 1930s and 40s.
The young Bergey's art was quite good, but he hadn't learned how to draw women with the sex appeal that he would display later in his career. Mabie's scripts kept up the same boring anti-deb drumbeat, but thankfully some editor was now somewhat curtailing her annoying use of double quotes. The series was cancelled with the release of November 19 1927, probably mourned by no one including the creators.
Ink-slinger profiles for all three creators are to follow this week, so stay tuned.
* Source for all dates: Philadelphia Evening Ledger.