Friday, January 06, 2023


Obscurity of the Day: Mommy


Here's a panel that seems like it should have succeeded, if only because it offered a different perspective than just about all the other stuff editors could buy in the mid-50s. The panel Mommy was about a stay-at-home mom, and unlike glamourpusses like Alice Mitchell and Blondie Bumstead, she seemed pretty real -- she was overworked, overtired, not at all amused by her kids' 'cute' antics, and never wore high heels and pearls to do the vacuuming. In short, here was a panel that would appeal to all the newspaper readers who fit that mould, which was most of the middle-aged women of the developed world. 

So what could go wrong? It certainly wasn't the art, which was by Arnie Mossler who offered up a more than competent 1950s modern and vibrant style. And it wasn't the gags by his wife Ann Mossler, which hit more often than not, and came across as real, not manufactured by some cigar-smoking gag-writer. At this point I'd be giving the stink-eye to the syndicate, which being the New York Herald-Tribune, with the most infamously inept sales force of all the majors, would seem like the obvious place to point the finger. But to my surprise when I look around on, I see that the panel started with what appears to be a healthy enough client list, and those clients didn't all get shed early on. In fact, it isn't until a good year and a half into the run before the clients start dropping like flies. Why? I just don't know. It's a head-scratcher. 

Mommy began on March 21 1955* and ended just about exactly two years later, on March 30 1957**. Arnie Mossler had several syndicated features before and after this, but Mommy was the only occasion on which he teamed up (or at least credited) his wife Ann.

* Source: San Fernando Valley Times

** Source: Tampa Times


My first reaction to it, while just scrolling down and reading the panels, and before you posted your puzzlement, was that it was simply unpleasant. Nobody is smiling, there is no evidence of love or affection, there is no fun displayed. "Mommy" is haggard, unhappy, clearly overworked and we never even see her husband. It's a portrait of mid-50s middle-class misery, and I am reminded of my own mother, who ultimately attempted suicide. It's as lightweight as an anvil.
I agree. It’s not fun. Makes Baby Blues look like an old family sit-com.
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