Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Camp Swanson

Tuesday Comic Strip Day.

This week, Paul Tumey turns fifty. Paul's blog on Jack Cole (which you can find through the link on the right) is one of the best researched and well written comic strip blogs on the web. His articles on Jack Cole's work in the thirties, forties and fifties is written without preconseptions and he often comes to great thoughts and insights, just from the material. Also, in doing his research, he has found many hotherto unknown Jack Cole pieces. Some of his research has prompted me to look in similar places I am glad to have been able to add to those finds as well.

Last year, he started a new blog with Frank Young called Comic Book Attic, which featured similar articles on other forgotten comic book artists, uch as Jim Thompson. Again, the level of scholarship in these articles make them a pleasure to read. This year Paul expanded again with a new blog on screwball comics. A less popular subject than Jack Cole, maybe - but one that is also not explored a lot and the isights in the articles alone makes you want to read and like this subset of newspaper comic strip art.

So to celebrate Paul's happy week, I am showing here a run of George Swanson's Elza Poppin'. Signing Swan, Swanson was one of the great screwball artists, whose Salesman Sam is duely celebrated on Paul's blog. In the fifties he turned his attention to a more sedate strip, the Flop Family.Though lively drawn, this strip lived far past it's sellby date and did little for Swanson's reputation.

In the forties he had a very rare oddity with Elza Poppin'. Trying to cash in on the succes of the chaotic stage extravanganza and film Helzapoppin' it was supposed to be written by the film and stage hit's stars Olson and Johnson, but I don't think they even spent a second on it. the original idea behind the strip seems to have been that it was about a girl called Elza, who works at an army camp (maybe as a WAC). I showed some of these earlier strips a couple of years ago. The later samples I am showing here the subject seems to have shifted to a WWII version of the later Beetle Bailey. No connection to the play or film is made and it certainly isn't as wildly funny as either. Still, it is a weird little strip which ran for over two years.

Many happy returns, Paul.


Paul Tumey said...

Wow -- I am blushing. Thanks very much for the nice recounting of my work. And thanks for these incredibly funny strips by George Swan! Great stuff! Bob Foster did a nice little piece on Swan in The Comics Journal 281, and then there was a 30 page reprint section of Swan's work. A nice find if anyone wants some of Swan's work in a nicely printed format.

Paul Tumey said...

I forgot to mention that Elza Poppin was actually started by ANOTHER interesting screwball cartoonist - Ving Fuller. The start date appears to be June 19, 1939. Ving's version has nothing to do with the military.After about 6 months, George Swan(son) took over. I'll be sharing some of Fuller's strips on my Screwball Comics blog very soon.

Ger Apeldoorn said...

So Fuller's vrsion was based on the succes of the play rather than the movie version?

rodineisilveira said...

If Mort Walker saw this...