Thursday, January 28, 2016


Death Valley Days Promo Comics

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Page 4

Here's an interesting promotional item from the radio show Death Valley Days, which was sponsored by 20 Mule Team Borax. Although there is no copyright evident on the 4-page 'comic section', it almost certainly dates from 1938. The new box for20 Mule Team is heralded on page four of the promo, and that gives me a way to date it. Checking on period advertising of the product, I find the old box in 1937 ads, and the new one in 1938 ads.

So what's actually intersting about this promo? Well, to me it's because the comic strips are signed by Fred Morgan. As you may recall from a long-ago Ink-Slinger Profile by Alex Jay, there has been some confusion regarding the biography of this supremely great editorial cartoonist. The problem stems from the fact that several other Fred Morgans, one a British painter, another a cartoonist who went by the working name F. R. Morgan.

Presuming that the above work is by the old Philadelphia Inquirer editorial cartoonist Fred Morgan, and the signature seems to bear that out, he seems to have still been working at the very advanced age (for those days) of either 73 or 78, depending on which offered birth date you believe, and certainly debunks one correspondent's belief that he died in 1932. Quite frankly, the quality of Morgan's work here tends to indicate a cartoonist who just doesn't really have their full chops anymore, but I'm surprised that an advertising agency of that era was working with an artist in his 70s.

Well, as a fellow who hopes to still be producing something worthwhile in my 70s, I say three cheers for Fred!

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