Tuesday, December 06, 2005


Obscurity of the Day: Good Earth Almanac

It's pushing the definition to call this a comic feature, but Mark Gregory's Good Earth Almanac was designed specifically to run in Sunday comic sections, so...

The success of the feature mirrored the popularity of the ecology movement itself. It started out in a lot of papers at its debut 11/21/1971, but seemed to lose its head of steam in the mid-70s. In my memory the ecology movement was similarly losing the focused attention of the public about that time (which is more interesting, mulching or disco? Oh, wait, they're both just recycled garbage). By 1976 or so the feature was running in very few venues.

Anyhoo, the feature may also have been losing popularity because of the inherent limits of the subject matter. I mean, how many interesting ways are there to admonish people to use white toilet paper instead of the colored stuff? How many tips do we need on how to set up our own indoor herb (or even 'herb') gardens? in other words, the feature was probably getting pretty repetitive, and that doesn't fly too well on the comics page unless you're Andy Capp.

The feature ended sometime in 1981 (can anyone supply a specific date?).


But who is this Mark Gregory?

Apparently Mark Gregory is a psuedonym
for Monte Burch as writer and Don Carlton (yes, that Don Carlton) as artist.

Monte Burch was (is?) a writer of all
things outdoors and of the fix-it genre.
A web search of Burch and Gregory will
get a few websites mentioning the
A website with a Burch q&a gets him saying he created a comic strip that
lasted "five or six years".

A search for Don Carlton and Good Earth Almanac gets a Ruby Lane sell-site that claims Carlton is the artist of the feature. This works for me because Don Carlton resides in
Kansas City, home to UPS.
How about this: Around September of
1971 UPS hooks Carlton up with Trudeau
and around the same time gets him to
illustrate Burch's weekly feature.
The timing works.

As for Burch saying it was for 5 or 6
I used to read this thing in the (I
think) San Jose Mercury News. In 1978
the "Mark Gregory" signature disappears and is replaced by Richard
Lumpkin. 1971 - 1978 is close to that
six year limit.

As for Richard Lumpkin - I know nothing about him, if that is a real

Wow! That is one hellacious bit of detective work, DD! Thanks for digging up all that data. And thanks also, for mentioning the Richard Lumpkin credit, I forgot to mention that in the post. In light of the Mark Gregory pseudonym, seems pretty reasonable to assume that we have another house name there.
hi! i came across this while searching info on 'richard lumpkin' in reference to a sculpture that he apparently created that now stands in Prairie Village in Kansas (kansas city?) anyway, i'm guessing that considering that you put the other person as living in kansas, i'm guessing that since Lumpkin had a commercial art studio there that was (apparently) well known, it's not a far bet to say that they knew each other. also, the sculpture i was hunting (Prairie Boy) was (as far as i can tell) sculpted in 1971, and donated in the same year.

here's a link to his wife's comments in a bio (she mentions the art studio and the sculpture, if you wish to search further):
hers is the 3rd name down- Muriel E. Brown Lumpkin.
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