Tuesday, March 19, 2013


Obscurity of the Day: Fingers and Foes

Allan "Sols" Salisbury, an Australian cartoonist, has a knack for getting into the U.S. newspaper market -- sometimes successfully, sometimes, well, not so much.

Fingers and Foes is definitely the latter case. Although I can find no exact information about its run in Australia beyond that it began there in 1974, it seems like the Australian and U.S. runs might have been  concurrent. In the U.S., Field Enterprises picked up the strip for a Sunday and daily run beginning March 18 1974.

The strip was about a group of mobsters known as the League of Disorganized Crime, led, of course, by a guy named Fingers, hence the name of the strip; and their foes, including a cop, a superhero and a newspaper reporter. While not a definite surefire hit, the strip did have appeal.

However, a mere three and a half months later, the strip appears to have ended in the U.S. The latest I've been able to find it is June 29. Why the ridiculously abbreviated run? Good question. What I've read of the strip indicates that it translated well for a U.S. audience, a common lack in foreign strips. In fact, the strip's language and references bespeak either a cartoonist steeped in American culture or a very creative and hard-working American editor.

Could it have been the unfortunate choice of the name The Iron Man for the strip's superhero? Surely a cease and desist letter from Marvel Comics would have simply required a new name for that character, not the cancellation of the strip entirely.

No, my best guess is that the communication hurdles between a cartoonist in Australia and his American syndicate may just not have worked out, and the strip not being a big immediate success might have made it easy to just say "ah, to heck with it." Am I right? Perhaps Sols, who as far as I know is still with us, will happen upon this post and give us the straight skinny.

Thanks to Cole Johnson for the scans!


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