Monday, December 17, 2012


Obscurity of the Day: Nibbles

Mal Hancock's first syndicated comic strip was Nibbles, produced for the George Matthew Adams Service. It ran from October 24 1960 to March 2 1963. The strip didn't use continuing characters per se, but as you can see the characters were mostly animals and precocious kids. The humor was sharp and fresh, a delight in the few newspapers that took the strip.

The problem with any feature that has no regular cast is that readers seldom get emotionally involved, so if the strip disappears there is rarely much of an outcry. That made Nibbles an easy target whenever a syndicate salesman would come to call at a subscribing paper. "Hey, I've got the greatest strip ever created here -- bigger than Li'l Abner, Peanuts and Blondie combined -- all ya gotta do is drop that Nibbles thing and ya can fit it on your comics page!"

Mal Hancock and his syndicate evidently saw the wisdom of my argument against Nibbles (yes, they had time travel in order to read this), and Nibbles was replaced by Humphrey Hush, a new Hancock strip with a continuing character. Why did that one last only four years, you say? Well, just time-travel ahead to my post of August 12, 2016, and I'll explain its shortcomings.

Oh ... you're wondering why I keep calling the strip Nibbles, aren't you? Those samples up there sure make it look like the strip is called Popcorn. Well, you aren't the only one who is confused. For some reason, the San Francisco Chronicle, from whence these samples were plucked, called the strip Popcorn. Why? I dunno. What I do know is that they had me sufficiently confused that in my book (you know about the book, right?) I listed Popcorn as a separate strip. It wasn't until preparing this post that I realized that this strip and Nibbles are the self-same feature. Jeez. Thanks a lot Chronicle


That kid in the first strip...Patrick, is that you??
Just a shot in the dark . . . Did the Chronicle place "Popcorn" anywhere near "Peanuts"?
In the words of Charlie Brown, "AUUUGGHH!". "Popcorn" was actually relegated to the classified ads pages, a Chronicle slum for strips they ran if and when they had space. However, your explanation nevertheless makes a lot of sense! Oooh, they were stinkers!

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