Monday, March 16, 2009


Monday Cartoon Day.

Milt Gross was one of the great humorists of his time. Not only did he create a lot of strips and characters that remained popular for a long time (including Nize Baby, That's My Pop and Dave's Delicatessen), he also worked in the MGM Cartoon studio on a series about The Katzenjammer Kids (or at least two of the episodes), wrote columns and created several book length illustrated novels. His silent graphic novel She Done Her Wrong was recently reprinted by Fantagraphics press. Much of his other work sadly isn't even though some of his cartoon strip work has been getting a lot of atention from bloggers all over the internet. Much of this has to do with availabillity. The work that is shown the most on blogs, is his later comic strip work, that is easier to scan (and often is available in pre-scanned form on a couple of sites). I have quite a collection of Dave's Delicatessen, but it's too big to be scanned on my small sized scanner. In the late thirties he stopped doing cartoons for a while and tried to make it as a humorist in other ways. He worked in Hollywood (and even seems to have made his own movie) and was often quoted by columnists for the funny things he supposedly said. He also wrote columns and other )often illustrated) humor. I hope to be showing some of that in the next few months. But one of the most remarkable things he did was a series of silent book reviews he did for a political weekly called Ken.

Ken was an oversized magazine in the late thirties, that tried to give intelligent background to the news. It started as a monthly, but in 1939, it switched over to weekly publication. There had always been a lot of cartoons and caricatures in Ken, but when it went to monthly ststaus, they added a new feature by Milt Gross. Each week he supplied a one page review of a popular novel. These were all done in cartoon form, without the use of wors. Called I Won't Say A Word, Gross often mocked the siliness of the novel's plot, by excaggerating the action in his unimitatble cartoon style. The result is astounding. A great concept, well executed. I have sven of these pages and as far as I can see, they represent the intire run of the feature. I have scanned in three for today and will show the rest later. Most of the novels reviewed are less well known, apart from two: this weeks Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck and next time's The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler.


Smurfswacker said...

I loved seeing these strips. I never even heard of the magazine, much less Gross's silent book reviews. Thanks so much for posting them.

Just wanted to let you know that, inspired by your example, I've started a blog to post some of my own oddities. Your work is an inspiration!


Fnord Serious said...

These are great!
Thanks for sharing.

Mark Mayerson said...

Gross worked for the MGM cartoon studio, not Warner Bros. Two cartoons that he definitely had a hand in are Jitterbug Follies and Wanted: No Master.

I have a clipping, from the Village Voice I think, that reprinted Gross's review of The Big Sleep.

Ger Apeldoorn said...

Thanks for the corrections, Mark. I was working from memory. Not a wise thing to do at my age (I just turned fifty).

The Big sleep will folllow.

Isaac said...

Thanks for posting these! I'm looking forward to seeing the others.

ginger said...

Is this the Milt Gross who wrote a column about Thanksgiving that started "2000 years ago or maybe even longer came to this country on the good ship Juneflower..." My late mother used to recite this every Thanksgiving at our dinner table and I am looking for a reprint, since none of the family can remember it. It would mean so much to us to have it. If it's not you, maybe you know the correct Milt Gross? Please help!

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