Wednesday, October 27, 2021


Obscurity of the Day: Pebbles the Stone Age Kid


When King Features decided to expand their Sunday line-up in 1935 one of the biggest misfires borne of the scamble for new features had to be Pebbles the Stone Age Kid. On the face of it the stone age humour strip seemed to have a few things going for it. Frederick M. De Ripperda was a very imaginative creator who had an unusual if not technically proficient art style, and Alley Oop had already proven that the caveman genre could be a winner with readers. The problem was that Mr. De Ripperda could not write worth a damn. His strips read like the work of a man under the influence of hallucinogens. That might play well in underground comix, but seems ridiculous on a mainstream comics page. You have to wonder, with the editorial oversight of the biggest syndicate in the world, how such unintelligible gobbledegook could make it through the editorial process. How is it that this strip could share space with Bringing Up Father, Krazy Kat, Flash Gordon and the like? 

For better or worse ... mostly worse ... Pebbles the Stone Age Kid was added to the syndicate's offerings on March 31 1935. Amazingly it took two and a half months for it to be consigned to the dustbin of history, ending on June 16 1935*. 

De Ripperda does not have any other comic strip credits of which I'm aware, but he did apparently end up as a director at Fawcett Publications later. Hopefully he was not engaged there in an editorial capacity. 


* Source: Jeffrey Lindenblatt based on New York Journal and New York American.


Hello Allan-
This was one of the strips that Hearst began offering when they went in for the Tabloid experiment,that is, from February to july 1935, the Hearst chain's sunday section would be all tabs. To which, I suppose to make up for the lack of size, a bunch of brand new titles were added to King Features offerings. Most of these were tabloid only sized, seemingly ignoring any possibility of full size client comic sections. This one is easily the worst of the short-lived lot, others included a Kewpies series by Rose O'Neill and the Dr. Suess series "Hadji." The only one that stayed on to become a regular series was Mandrake the Magician.
These tab series didn't appear in every Hearst chain link, either. apparently the individual papers could pick and choose. Choosing none was a common option. Collectors find it near impossible to find the Suess strip, for example.
I tend to think there was something unserious about the whole Tab episode. How could the top syndicate and the top newspaper chain make this strange thing happen? They must have taken the measure of client appetite for such a radical change. Who was asking for it? Why? I used to be the KFS Archives. Never found any explanation in the old business files.
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