Wednesday, August 21, 2019
Obscurity of the Day: Gabe
Famed caricaturist Alfred Frueh started his career at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, but as far as I know he never produced a comic strip series for them. When he was transferred to the New York World in 1911, in addition to caricatures he was assigned his first comic strip series, which premiered on July 2 1911. Gabe got pride of place on the cover of the Sunday funnies section pretty consistently for months, a tribute to Frueh's elegantly simple and tremendously expressive art.
Frueh's lovely art is in service here to an overdone concept, the city kids versus the country kids. In Frueh's take on the subject the city kids are initially practically homicidal maniacs, and the country kid is about as dumb as a bag of nails. Frueh slowly began to find his footing, with the final example shown above toning down the Katzenjammer-esque antics and offering some real humanity to the proceedings. This is how the strip would be written from then on, featuring more gentle humor and a little compassion for the country kid Gabe, especially in his attempts to woo Cinthy.
Gabe ran for over a year, ending on August 18 1912. As the strip got better, ironically it was more and more often relegated to an inside half-page. Frueh would not make it back into the Sunday section for eight years after this, finally returning with Hem and Haw.