Thursday, December 09, 2010

Gently, Gently

Thursday Story Strip Day.

The second half of what seems to have been a five months sequence of Ray Bailey's Bruce Gentry, with two strips missing. Together with the strips I showed last week, this should give a good idea of what this strip was all about. It started a year before Milt Caniff's strip, looked a lot like it and dealt with similar but not the same subjects. Why was is no succes then. One reason may be the superiority of Caniff's writing and the ay he developed characters. But although Bailey (using a writer, probably) was not in Caniff's league, another reason might be the fact that Bruce Gentry seems to have chosen for a less grand and selfassured approach. Where Steve Canyon was obviously a top strip by a top creator, large size, great syndicate, lots of publicity, Bruce Gentry was a second rate effort from the start. It used (an demanded) less room, which generated less income, which resulted in less publicity, etc, etc. I have seen other strips from the same period being even worse, but Bruce Gentry didn't aim for the top and sunsequently never reached it. Having looked at a lot of strips from this period, this seems to have been a large factor in the succes of certain strips. There were plenty of action strips started in the second half of the forties (before the soap opera strips became the new thing) and most of seem just disappeared because they tried to keep things small, thus depriving themselves of the opportunity and the obligation to impress. A great sample of this, is a daily strip by George Roussos, which was delivered to the papers so soberly and spare, that it almost willed itself out of existance.

For yeras, one of the tenants of comic book histery has been, that every comic book artist wanted to be a newspaper artist above all. But the truth is, that many of them did do a newspaper strip, failed to make a succes out of it and returned to the comics. So my thought is, they didn't want a newspaper strip above all, they wanted to earn a better living. And when the newspaper strip they had couldn't provide that, they returned to the jobs that would pay the bills.

strip for Dec 26 1949 is missing.

strip for Jan 2 1950 is missing.

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