Thursday, December 01, 2011
Obscurity of the Day: Doggy Dramas Present
Ed Wheelan's Minute Movies, with its unusual approach of telling short stories using a regular cast of 'actors' who acted in 'films', running in two tiers of small panels, was a hit in the 20s but old hat by the 1930s. In fact the feature was cancelled and pretty well forgotten before the end of the decade.
That seemingly obvious hint that the approach was out of favor with readers didn't slow down Calvin Fader. He must have been a fan of the series, because he stole all those elements from the defunct Minute Movies in 1938 to create Doggy Dramas Present. His nod to originality was that all his 'actors' were dogs. The dog angle gave Fader the excuse to make lots of really awful puns (we're talking 'pooched eggs and pupperoni' level). With so many awful puns to wade through, it was perhaps a blessing that the strip ran only once a week.
It was syndicated by Associated Editors as an element of their weekly children's activity page, and replaced the long-running Adventures of Peter Pen, the previous weekly strip, on March 20 1938. Stories usually ran for six to ten episodes, with occasional one-shots in between, and covered the gamut of Saturday matinee movie genres -- comedies, adventures, mysteries, westerns, short subjects and so on.
Fader apparently wasn't all that proud of his work on the feature, because I don't believe he ever once signed the strip. He did get a byline starting in 1940, and was credited in Editor & Publisher, but never a signature. And that's a slight problem because I have a note in my research database saying that Al Fagaly did the strip in 1938-39. Unfortunately I failed to make note of the source of that information. Looking at the art from 1938 and 1940, though, I see no difference and think the Fagaly citation is a red herring.
Associated Editors dropped the strip from their children's page on March 14 1943.
Tomorrow: an Ink-Slinger Profile of Calvin Fader