Thursday, March 26, 2015

Detective Jobbie

Thursday Story Strip Day.

Alfred Andriola is one of the few Milton Caniff assistants who made it big on his own. In the late thirties and early fifties he signed the Charlie Chan strip, which was drawn in a pure Caniff style. In 1943, he started his own strip, Kerry Drake, which went on to become a major crime strip in the forties, fifties and sixties. The style of Kerry Drake was a long way from the Caniff inspired look of Charlie Chan. In between those two, he drew less than a years worth of Dan Dunn, taking over the long running adventure strip as a favor for the syndicate while preparing Kerry Drake. Those who hope that this obscure strip (or at least Adriola's short run) would give a clue as to his changing style are out of luck. While slightly resembling Kerry Drake, Dan Dunn does not have any stylistic connection to Charlie Chan and as such does not give a clue to Andriola's core qualities as an artist. In fact, there are some that say that Andriola never drew anything himself. Somewhere in the fifties he picked up an assistant for Drake, who not only drew the strip for twenty years, but also drew Andiola's 'other' strip It's Me, Dilly in the late fifties. It is know he used an assistant for Drake earlier as well, even though I do not know his (or their) name(s). On Charlie Chan it is said that Milt Caniff and Noel Sickles hosted the first week to secure a sale for his assistant and when the strip was running Charles Raab is supposed to have done the heavy lifting. But it seems unlikely to me that Andriola was totally uninvolved. Why else would Milt Caniff gone through the trouble of getting him a strip of his own?I don't think Charles Raab was involved at this point, which would explain the lack of Caniff influence.

Anyway, all we have now are the strips themselves and all I can do is present them. here are the first few months of Alfred Andriola's Dan Dunn, with self made scans of the Sunday pages for as far as I have them. I have more and will run those later.


Smurfswacker said...

These strips aren't bad. I see a certain similarity to Andriola's Chan in the character designs and the backgrounds. I wish there were records to sort out what Andriola did and didn't do. It doesn't help that everyone worked in variations of the Caniff-Sickles style.

The first week of dailies is by Paul Pinson.

Ger Apeldoorn said...

You are right, I forgot to note that I included Pinson so you can see the transition in the dailies and the Sundays. Very little is known about him, apart from the fact tha the syndicate can't have been very happy with him, because they actively approached Andriola to replace him. Andriola made a deal to take over the strip for the remainder of the contract if he could replace it with a strip of his own. All the while the writer was Allen Saunders, by the way.

rnigma said...

Pinson and Andriola did a far better job than the original artist, Norman Marsh - notice that the newspaper that published these strips was still crediting it to Marsh. (Even today, there are papers that don't bother to change the byline on a comic strip, years after an artist change.)

Smurfswacker said...

You're right, Migma, about credits on strips not changing. Back in the 80s when I worked on a couple of strips, the publisher told me that any sort of change--a new byline, a "title card" for a new story episode--could encourage a paper to drop the strip.

I've seen other references to that belief dating back to the thirties. It's as if every newspaper is just waiting for an excuse to dump a feature. I've come to wonder whether it's one of those assumptions that was true 80 years ago then passed into folklore, like the one about readers not wanting to see snakes.

Ger Apeldoorn said...

I know certain long running strips don't want to take off the priginal artist's name because rmoving that would almost certainly mean it's end - while B.C. shows that restarting with a fresh new artist can in fact revigorate the strip.

EricMontreal22 said...

Kerry Drake's writer, Allen Saunders (who was also doing, with credit I believe, Mary Worth and Steve Roper at the time) famously quit in 1970 when Andriola won an award for Drake and didn't thank him or any of the "assistants" who were by that point (apparently) doing most of the work.