Friday Comic Book Day.
I was alerted to the existance of the American Armed Forces Features newspaper by a post on Paul Tumey's excellent Jack Cole blog. This eight page comic section for army base newspapers produced by the Bradbury Company had one of the last comic strip projects by Jack Cole, which he must have made in the period just before he joined Playboy as their resident cartoonist. I recommend Paul's comments on this strip on his blog at http://colescomics.blogspot.com. If you want to see more, follow the tags to the earlier post on this strange newspaper section, where one of his commenters gives a list of the first few issues. After that, I found that another of my favorite bloggers, Alan Holtz of the Stripper's Guide, had also paid attention to the AAFF section using a much later sample. Apparently this section ran for over ten years. There must be more samples out there, but none of us has ever come across them.
I particulary like this oddity, because of the strange collection of cartoonists involved. Not only do we have jack Cole and the seldomly heard of Jess Benton, but there are also strips by Vic Martin, Hap Lyons and Jack o'Brien. All hard working cartoonists of the lower standard. Jack o'Brien (who drawas two features as well as contributing a cartoon for the cartoons page) worked on Charlton's Sad Sack not much later on. And Vic Martin had been doing a series of army gaga pages for Ziff Davis' G.I. Joe comics. Lyons is mostly know for is sexy cartoons in the Humorama titles, although I believe I have also seen his work in Boy's Life.
The back page, an oddly sponsored adventure story is very much in the style of Jack Sparling, although I am not completely sure about that. Sparling worked for various war comics, so there is a connection as well. As for the title strip about American Armed Forces Heroes (one of the few strips, which still ran in Alan Holtz' 1960 sample), it is drawn quite amateurishly in s style that reminds me of the various hastily drawn Charlton comics. Barnacle Barney has a familiar style, but I can't make out the signature.
In the late fifties Jack o'Brien worked as a packager for Charlton, for instance on their Mad imitation Crazy. But there is no one connection that makes the whole thing come together. It s an odd title and I would love to see more. Who can find me some in their grandparents attic?