Tuesday, February 21, 2006
Obscurity of the Day: The Nearsighted Mister Magoo
Some animated cartoon characters have made successful transitions to the newspaper comic page. Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck, of course, and later Yogi Bear and The Flintstones, have all be syndication success stories.
Unfortunately syndicate suits often see those successes as based purely on the popularity of the characters in their native medium. The truth, of course, is that to be a success the newspaper version must stay true to the character and have good gags. The toughest part, though, is to judiciously modify the character for the new medium.
For instance, one of the surefire bits of business for Donald Duck on screen are his insane tantrums. Frenetic action, though, does not translate well to the comic page, so Al Taliaferro made a very important tweak to Donald's character. Instead of tantrums Donald in the newspaper became a master of the slow burn and a hilarious Jack Benny-like doubletake. The tantrums still make an occasional appearance, but they tend to be the springboards for gags, they're not relied on to be the punchline.
No such deep thought seems to have gone into the translation of Mister Magoo, whose cartoonist(s) were uncredited (Pete Alvarado is mentioned in one reference). The gags are mostly repetitive and unimaginative. The gag in our sample is so lame that it is barely recognizeable, and Magoo's speech in the last panel is out of character and, more importantly, hits like a lead balloon. Worse yet, the storyline depends on Magoo having good eyesight - good enough to recognize that there's a bunch of tourists in his car from across the parking lot. Sheesh!
The Nearsighted Mister Magoo was syndicated by the Chicago Tribune-NY News Syndicate, and I don't recall seeing it appear anywhere other than their papers. It ran 12/5/1964 - 5/8/1966.
i have a copy somewhere around here
published by Pyramid
reprints 244 daily strips.
Reprinted in an abridged edition by
Scholastic in 1977.