Sunday, February 23, 2014

Funny Antics

Saturday Leftover Day.

I knew Al Jaffee did some funny animal stuff for Timely before getting one of the girlie titles all to his own and running with it for more than ten years. I even new vaguely he did a couple of non animal gag pages for Quality's Military comics before returning to Timely after the war to do Ziggy Pig. Although I couldn't find the records (wikipedia certainly is very vague about this part of his career) I get the impression these earlier strips were done while he was still at school. And he might even have done some small stuff for Timely (the later Marvel) around the same time. When I spoke with Mr. Jaffee two years ago (in the company of Craig Yoe) he talked about his period at Timely in such a way that I couldn't really understand if he was there before the war or after.

So I tracked down some of his gag work for Timely's Joker Comics and I was surprised at how much it was, how much more substantive than his singe page gags for Quality and sometimes even billed on the cover along with the other regular features. Joker Comics is mostly know as the home of Basil Wolverton's Powerhouse Pepper, but hardly anyone ever mentions Squat Car Squad, a hilarious slapstick strip by Al Jaffee. And if they do, they underplay it. It certainly doesn't turn up at the Al Jaffee bibliographies at Atlas Tales or the Grand Comics Database. Now the relative scarcity (and high prices due to the appearances of Powerhouse Pepper) may be a factor. There won't be many people who actually have these books. But in these days of internet scanning, that is not a problem anymore. I found copies for the first 8 issues, which all feature several pages of Squat Car Squad. There may be more, I could not find any information on the later issues.

Even if you are skipping through this, have a look at the story from#6, which features Mr. Jaffee himself, looking quite different from the caricature we know from his work in Mad or the figure used in his previous series, Inferior Man, which I will be showing tomorrow.

Some have said that the silliness and amount of background gags foreshadow the work of his high school buddies Harvey Kurtzman and Bill Elder. Actually, I believe only Bill Elder was his buddy and Kurtzman was a couple of classes up from them. But it does speak to a shared view of what is funny. Although I don't see this strip as a particular influence, rather yet another link between the slapstick antics of strips like Smokey Stover and the silliness of Mad.

Squat Car Squad is a funny strip and far to rarely seen. Here are all episodes from issue #2 to #8 by Al Jaffee. I have seen no issues after that, but the GCD tells me there is no Squat Car Squad in #9 and Doc Vassallo mentioned Al Jaffee's friend David Gantz as the artist for #10.


Doc V. said...


Jaffee's Ziggy Pig started at the start of the war, the first appearance being Krazy Komics #1 (July/42), probably on sale in April and drawn in January.

ASlso, while all the scans of Squat Car Squad are great, it would help if you mentioned what issues these scans are from.

Ger Apeldoorn said...

That means Squat Car Squad probably just beats it by a month. It's first appearance is in June 1942. Since it is on the cover of Joker #2, I guess it was added quite early in the line-up. The scans here are in order, al I have (and probably all there is) from Joker #2 to Joker #8.

SpaceLord said...

Great stuff indeed. Those early JOKERS are a treasure trove of strange comic concepts.
In Joker #1 there’s a story about “Alec The Great” which looks suspiciously like ASTERIX. And René Goscinny spent years in New York.
Will send you scans via E-mail. A case for detective Apeldoorn!