Friday, September 09, 2022
Obscurity of the Day: Double Trouble
Artist Bill MaLean got the brilliant idea to create a comic strip about the travails of raising twins from his wife. When she brought twins Jeannie and Johnnie home from the hospital his noggin got to calculating, and the rest is (obscure) history. MacLean spent awhile shopping around his brainchild, Double Trouble, but didn't find any takers until he got a priceless piece of publicity from Parade magazine, which ran a three page story about his strip (well, actually, it was mostly a picture story about the cute twins, but still...):
With coverage like that to include in his promo mailings, it wasn't long before he garnered interest in the strip, and from no less than King Features.
The strip debuted on November 2 1944* as a daily-only strip, and despite the very cute shenanigans of Jeannie and Johnnie, the list of clients comig on board was rather small. I can only surmise that the problem was the art style, which is workmanlike enough, but the kids really fail the cute test. Johnnie, especially, with that block head and bizarre premature balding, is a little creepy. On the other hand, the gags are kind of wonderful, in that they usually stay out of the trap of making the kids appear to be outright hellions. Like the later Dennis the Menace, there's rarely any real malice involved, the exuberant kids are just having trouble navigating diplomatic detente with the adults in their lives.
As is often the case with King Features, once they take on a strip, they let it run even when the client numbers are pretty sorrowful. Double Trouble never really found much interest from newspaper editors, but it ran until October 3 1953*, a more than respectable nine year run.
* Source: Bergen Evening Record.