Friday, February 19, 2021
Obscurity of the Day: Dijever
Before creating the long-running Our Own Oddities for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch Sunday comics section, Ralph Graczak was the illustrator of a weekly feature titled Dijever. The feature asked readers to submit puns which Graczak would illustrate. The idea was to complete the phrase "Did you ever ..." with a term, usually two words, where the meaning changes if you treat one of the words as a verb. Look at the samples to get the idea of how it worked. It was a cute idea, and Graczak did his best to eke out a little extra humor from the illustrations.
The feature ran on a Saturday kids page called the Weekly Whizzer, debuting with the page of June 18 1938. Graczak made it a bit less than a year before the Dijever feature was canned in favor of new contest. The last panel ran on March 4 1939.
This is one of those features that I have trouble with. Is it worthy of inclusion in my listings? If Graczak himself were penning the puns, then no problem. But since he was just illustrating reader submissions that sort of makes this an 'activity feature', which my self-imposed rules disqualify. Yes, I know, if that's the worst problem I have, then things are looking pretty darn bright...
This reminds me of Bil Keane's "Sideshow" which was an assortment of play-on-words gags just like these, in fact he often used the tag line "PUN-ishment inflicted by Bil Keane" in the feature, which was usually a rectangle attached to the Sunday FAMILY CIRCUS in the 1960s. They too, were mostly sent in by readers, whose name and city were included, and I think they might have got a small dollar prize. They were pretty bad; gags like a pig in an apron posing like Jolson, "PURE MA HOG ON KNEE"... or Karl Marx's grave, "ANOTHER RED PLOT". I knew Keane, slightly. He loved this kind of stuff. He said he dropped "Sideshow" because after a while, reader contributions were slacking off, and too many repetitons among the ones that did.