Thursday, September 24, 2009
Obscurity of the Day: The Pingos
Clark Watson's only known contribution to newspaper strip history is this rare item, The Pingos. It was a delightful fantasy romp in which a couple of kids, Willy and Winnie, get involved with two societies of weird buglike characters. The Pingos, the good guys, live up in the clouds in a land called Pingolia. The Smigs, their constant adversaries, live underground.
The beautifully designed two-tier daily strip originated in Bernarr MacFadden's notorious New York Evening Graphic sometime in 1930, originally titled The Pingos and the Smigs. It was an attempt to make the Graphic more family-friendly by appealing to kids. Of course there was no way that any parent with an ounce of sense would let a kid get hold of a copy of the 'porno-Graphic'. This was late in the life of the Graphic, and in 1931 all their remaining strips were sold off to the New York World's Press Publishing syndicate, which continued The Pingos.
Press Publishing had slightly better luck syndicating the strip, but it was still in very few papers. In 1932 they decided to revamp the strip in the standard daily format, which effectively eliminated the lovely design work that made the strip so appealing and failed to bring about the additional sales that were the object of the change. The strip apparently ended its run on August 6 1932 just as Willy was about to rescue the Pingo queen from those rotten Smigs. Has anyone seen any later strips?
Clark Watson apparently went into the animation business in the 1940s; I found a smattering of credits at some of the lesser studios.
This stuff never fails to amaze me. I could have sworn (at first glance) that this was a work by one of the better underground cartoonists of the early 1970's. A two-tiered strip like this was a great idea, and after looking at this, I have to wonder why it wasn't tried more often.
Wow, I just found your post--I own the original art for the first strip you posted (bought on eBay for pennies, just based on how it looked, since neither I nor the seller had any information about the strip). I'm glad I read Watson's (almost illegible) signature correctly...Post a Comment