Wednesday, January 31, 2024


Toppers: The Sunny Side


King Features went to a Sunday strip model that generally included three features in 1933. You got the main strip, the strip topper, and then they added a panel to the mix as well. That panel started out mostly being an activity feature (see Funny Films), but when that fizzled some creators switched over to panel gags. When the Funny Films topper was dropped on Felix, creator Otto Messmer replaced it with The Sunny Side, a panel where the gag was that something bad seemed to be happening, but the reader, and sometimes the character, could see that things were about to look up. 

The Sunny Side didn't last long, and my guess is that it was seen at the syndicate as offering a little more adult-skewed gags than they'd like to see on a property like Felix. The panel only ran on the Sunday from February 24 to March 31 1935*. After that the third topper feature was dropped on Felix, with Laura going back to taking the complete upper third of the page. Although it too would soon be changed to a new strip, Felix never went back to offering a double-helping of toppers. 

Addendum: I didn't realize when I wrote the post about the Laura topper that Messmer finally dropped the gags about the parrot learning to repeat phrases. As you can see in the sample above, by 1935 that strip was engaged in a light continuity with the parrot now inhabiting a funny animal world, not interacting exclusively with humans. The post has been corrected. 

* Source: Columbus Dispatch.


Hello Allan-
That this happened during the short-lived period when the Hearst Sundays went Tab, (February-August 1935, I believe)is significant.
If the "Funny Films" seemed more effort than they were worth, shrinking them to half size made them even more so. Replacing them with one panel gags seemed to be an easy to create, easy on the eyes solution.
Most of the Hearst guys were happy to do Panels to fill the space, DeBeck had "Knee-High Knoodles", Ad Carter had "Dream Land", Young had "Carnival", and McManus had "How to Keep from getting Old", et cetera.
The ones that stayed cut-out activities, like Knerr's Jigsaw Puzzles and the paper dolls seem to have had so many clients outside the Hearst chain, they were going to be seen mainly in regular full size format.

Excellent point Mark!
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