Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Another Bumper Crop

Tuesday Comic Strip Day.

When I was in New York a couple of years ago, I went to the Public Library to have a look for one of my favorite funny strips from the fifties, Bumper to Bumper by Gill Fox. Bumper to Bumper was an irregular half page Sunday only strip about a young married couple. He runs a garage and petrol pump. It is drawn in Fox's aproximation of the Hank Ketchum style, the same style used for his daily mini panel Denis the menace rip-off Wilbert.I've shown some samples of that forgotten (and not very funny) cheapo knock-off which ran for almost two years (in so few papers with such a low distribution that it can't have made Fox a lot). Gill Fox was one of those adaptable artist who seem to be able to work in any style (within a certain range). He started out as a Quality artist, aping the styles of their most popular artists (most notably Jack Cole), went on to the advertising agency Johnstone and Cushing, where he was a utility player in the humor category until he started orking with Dik Browne, taking over many of his (also often borrowed) styles. Later on, he assisted Browne on his advertising work, The Tracey Twins for Boy's Life and on Hi and Lois, although I have never been able to figure out in what period. He was so adept at mimicking Browne, that I can't tell who did what. In between he also did a couple of illustrations in a completely different style and a silly gag strip for an advertising newspaper. n 1961 he took over the daily panel Side Glances from William Galbraith, who had taken it over from George Clark decades before that. All in the same style, of course.

But all through it, Gill Fox remained fresh and never looked as if he was mimicking someone. Bumper to Bumper is a very good sample of that. It appeared in the New York Sun-News between 1954 and 1964 on an irregular basis and I am sad to say that I never managed to get a complete list because a. the New York Sun-News collection at the Public Library is not complete and b. I got sidetracked by all the pretty pictures in the issues they did have.

Someone still ought to do that, though.

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