Friday, November 17, 2023
Obscurity of the Day: Nobody Works Like Father
Here's a series by the ever-busy pen of Gene Carr that reminds us that "social media" is not a phenemenon limited to the current century by any means. Long before the internet, long before TV, even long before radio, people could still tune into cultural zeitgeists. Yes, fads and memes were with us in 1906 -- maybe they didn't travel at the speed of fiber optics, but they still worked their way through our society at an amazing speed.
In 1905 a new song was published called "Everybody Works But Father", a comic ditty about a lazy father. A number of artists recorded it, and here's one of them:
It was a big hit and soon spawned postcards and other trinkets bearing the title. Soon there were also reply songs, like "Father's Got a Job", and various singers offered new and alternative lyrics. In the world of comics, Gene Carr took up the gauntlet and decided to defend poor father. His series Nobody Works Like Father debuted on January 28 1906*, offering new song lyrics featuring a father who slaves for his family only to be treated like dirt.
Carr must have really relished creating this series because the strips are in my opinion some of his best work; funny, on point, animated, and smart. Coulton Waugh, on the other hand, singled it out in The Comics for what may or may not be a diss, "too reminiscent of the ancient days of Dickens and Cruickshank to last long in a modern world."
As with social media today, though, the world quickly tired of its memes even way back when. Gene Carr's Nobody Works Like Father ran its course in less than a year, last appearing November 25 1906*.
* Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch.