Monday, June 20, 2022
Obscurity of the Day: Cy!
Alfred G. Alblitzer simplified his cartooning nom de plume to Al Zere, but I have to say, I really like the alliteration in his given name. I wonder if, in the way that a flap of a butterfly's wing can change history, could a cartoonist named Alfred Alblitzer have had a different biography just because of his name.
Well, we'll never know the answer to that one. But we do have an answer to the burning question, "What did Al Zere produce at the Brooklyn Eagle from August 30 1908 to December 19 1909?" The answer is today's obscurity, called Cy! (don't forget the exclamation point!!)
The Brooklyn Eagle offered only one Sunday comic each week during this early era, and Al Zere created Cy! as his second attempt to take up permanent residence on that very exclusive stage. It would be on his third try that he'd stick the landing with Buttons and Fatty, which he penned for nine years before being called off to visit Europe's finest trenches, rifle and Army boots provided gratis.
Zere's Cy! fails to live up the exclamation point, offering serviceable but unmemorable gags about a kid named (wait for it) Cy. I think he's supposed to be a country bumpkin -- those big clodhopper shoes and patched jeans are telltales -- but the gags don't often seem to have much to do with that. I don't see it as emblematic of the country bumpkin type that our young man goes camping and to fancy restaurants as seen above. Don't bumpkins chase pigs and smoke corn silk behind the barn? Maybe Al Zere, a Brooklynite born and bred, had a little trouble visulaizing country life, but jeez, he could have stolen gags from only about a million other similar features.
Anyhow, the good citizens of Brooklyn would have to suffer through Cy! (don't forget the exclamation point!) for almost a year and a half before Zere put him out to pasture. Or, to keep in the spirit of things, perhaps in the harbour wearing concrete overshoes?