Thursday, August 01, 2019


Obscurity of the Day: Blue Chips

Morrie Brickman tried to make it big in a number of comic strip genres before finally hitting paydirt with the small society. Blue Chips was his last syndicated stop along the way, which was distributed by Bell Syndicate (later Bell-McClure) starting on October 3 1960*.

Blue Chips tried to carve out a niche market on newspaper stock pages, a page that has never really been the location of a big hit. Dale McFeatters' Strictly Business staked a claim, and later Herb Stansbury's Smart Charts, but generally speaking newspaper editors seem relieved enough just to get all that tiny type set for the stock listings and be done with the page. Adding graphic interest seems like it was pretty far down on their priority list.

Blue Chips may have further limited its chances of success by treating readers like they were savvy investors. Gags that depend on an understanding of dividends, stock splits and margin trading no doubt made for fun reading for experts, but the typical newspaper reader would have been mystified.

What Blue Chips did very, very right is to create a character, Mr. Pigeon, who was the put-upon everyman investor, constantly losing in the market and recognizing his luck is probably never going to change. This guy basically got rehired for a starring role in the small society, and once there, no longer complained about the stock market but rather the government and society. His fatalistic belief that things are awful and never going to get better struck a nerve with many people and made the strip the big hit it was.

the small society hit newspapers in May 1966, and Brickman soon knew he had a winner. He continued Blue Chips for a short while, probably working out his contract, and the strip seems to have expired on August 19 1967**.

* Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
** Source: Paterson (NJ) News


I found at least one "Blue Chips" strip where Pigeon said "Hoo Boy". The comparison to the "small society" guy is spot on.
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