Monday, February 18, 2019
Obscurity of the Day: Mostly Malarky
Maybe not so much an obscurity as a feature that just ran under the radar, Mostly Malarky was created by Wally Carlson for the Chicago Tribune-New York News Syndicate in 1946, debuting as a daily panel on April 29*.
Carlson was the long-time artist on The Nebbs, and after the death of creator Sol Hess in 1941, he might have felt he needed a backup plan should it be cancelled. As it turned out, The Nebbs continued for about 15 years after that, but Carlson probably needed some extra income as it steadily lost papers in those years. Neither The Nebbs of this era, or Mostly Malarky, would be a cash cow by any means, but the two together probably kept the wolves far away from Wally's door.
Mostly Malarky started as a gag panel with no continuing characters, but it wasn't long before readers would start seeing the same married couple showing up pretty regularly. His name was Charlie, his wife was Pansy, but the son's name I have not been able to discover in perusing a hundred or so samples. Somehow I always assumed that the family name was Malarky, but I don't know if that was actually maintained in the feature or if it came out of my own head. When the CTNYNS told Carlsen to add a Sunday to the mix, this family became the stars of the color strip.
The family is pretty well a blank slate on which to blanket any old gag, but in keeping with the title of the feature Charlie did make a habit of telling tall tales. They also had a parakeet named Poyke, named after a real bird owned by Carlson. Poyke had 15 minutes of fame as the star of a photo book issued by All-Pets Books in 1954.
In the late 40s Carlson added another set of regular players when the characters Maizie and Daisy began appearing in the daily panel. This pair of frumpy washerwomen became, in my opinion, the highlight of the feature. They were sassy and brassy and an utter delight. Apparently Rand McNally agreed with me, because Mostly Malarky's only mainstream appearance in book form was a collection of Maizie and Daisy panels. Another continuing sub-feature was Wilbur Werm, a Casper Milquetoast who is domineered by his wife.
There's no telling just how long Mostly Malarky could have run, as it ended due to the death of Wally Carlson in 1967. The final daily saw print on May 27, the last Sunday on July 30. Although Art Huhta is believed to have assisted on the feature, he evidently wasn't asked, or didn't care, to take it over.
* Source: All dates from the Chicago Tribune
Mostly Malarky also ran for about a year in the NY Sunday News comics. It appeared 13 times in 1951 and I have one earlier appearance in December of 1950.
Thanks for catching my omission Doc.