Monday, November 13, 2023
Obscurity of the Day: Miracle Jones
After his masterful performance on Tarzan, it's amazing to think that Burne Hogarth followed it up by not just one but two total misfires. The first was Drago, an atmospheric quasi-western set in South America that showcased fabulous art but herky-jerky storytelling.
Hogarth's second attempt at getting back in the newspaper limelight is today's obscurity, Miracle Jones. An ill-advised departure from the action/adventure milieu, which was Hogarth's specialty, this strip tries to adapt Hogarth's dynamic art style to a humor strip. Miracle Jones was a bald-faced copy of James Thurber's Walter Mitty character, a nebbish whose fantasies are played out for the amusement of readers. The character had just been adapted into a 1947 blockbuster movie starring Danny Kaye, so Hogarth just jumped on the bandwagon with a character who is Walter Mitty in every respect excpt the name.
United Feature originally offered the strip under the title J.P. Miracle, but changed it prior to release. The strip began on February 15 1948* in a vanishingly small list of papers as a Sunday-only feature**. Hogarth provided impressive art but it was all for naught. United and Hogarth threw in the towel before even the first year anniversary, the strip apparently ending on December 5 1948***.
Art expert Alberto Becattini offers us an interesting aside on Miracle Jones, stating that future E.C. Comics star Bernie Krigstein ghost-pencilled two weeks worth of the strip. There may have been other assistants and ghosts involved, too, because I notice that Hogarth does not generally sign his name in the final panel, only in the often dropped title panel. Was he trying to tell us something? Considering that he was back working on Tarzan at this time it seems likely that other hands helped out on this throwaway strip.
* Source: Boston Post
** A few sources claim the strip began in 1947, but no evidence for this has been found.
*** Source: Jeffrey Lindenblatt based on Long Island Press.
So the idea (implied) that it took Hogarth ghosts to get both strips out makes perfect sense.
Can anyone expand?