Say It Ain't So, Joe
Tuesday Comic Strip Day.
Mrs. Lyon's Cubs is one of the great hard to find short running strips of the late fifties. Written by Stan Lee and initially drwn by the incomparable Joe Maneely, it has long been a sort of holy grail for my collecting efforts. To my surprise a long run of The Milwaukee Gazette was resently added to Google Newspapers and in it I found almost all of the run of this strip. Not quite, since a few papers were missing, including sadly most of the Sundays. But all in all what I found does give a nice overview of this not so very funny, but certainly interesting strip.
In the late fifties Stan Lee everything he could to get out of comics. Well, everything except quit his job at his uncle once removed Martin Goodman's company that was then mostly known by the name of it's failed distribution branch, Atlas. He tried his hand at funny book proposals, newspaper panels and newsppaer strips. Until finally, one day in 1957 one of them stuck. It was a preposal for a comedy strip with a niche market appeal. Mrs. Lyon's Cubs was to be about a scouting mom and her boys (and their friends). Lee hoped to sell the strip with an official scouting connection and it would have worked if only for the fact that the scouting people weren't that interested and the newspapers didn't really think it was something they needed. Still, attractively drawn by Joe Maneely, who had long been Stan Lee's favorite artist in the Atlas stable the managed to snatch a syndicate and enough papers to get the strip going. It started in februari 1958 with a daily and a Sunday. A rare thing, but the quality of Joe Maneely's drawing may have had somethin got do with that.
Unfortunately in on june 7 1958, after going out for the night (with oldtime friends John Severin and Walt Kelly assistant George Ward) he stepped out on the balcony of the train to get some air, fell between two trains and died. For a long time the story was that he had been drunk, but according to Dan Goldberg he had lost his glasses earlier that week and that may have been a contributing factor. I fully expect that Michael Vasello's new upcoming biography of Maneely (which was done with the help and artistic treasure troves of the family) will give the full story. The art chores on Mr. Lyon's Cubs were taken over by Al Hartley in a strangely subdued style. This changeover didn't occur until the beginning of july, with the Joe Maneely Sunday pages running even a bit longer. The strip continued until the end of August, when it was cancelled, making it the shortest of Stan Lee's comic strip efforts - but not by much. His 1970's photo strip Says Who ran for a similarly short period.