Monday, June 15, 2015

Gross Neglicense

Monday Cartoon Day.

I started my association with Craig Yoe by giving him scans from Milt Gross' silent review series for the weekly news magazine Ken from the thirties. He used some of them for his first Gross book, which you can see and buy to the right of this text. He recently published a second Gross book, with his 'second' graphic novel (after He Done Her Wrong), which was widely regarded as one of the best books of this year. Of course, Gross was a prolific artist from whose work any number of collections could be made. I have clipped some of his daily strips from the twenties and thirties, which I will show tomorrow - and from what I have seen his 1940's series That's My Pop was very easy to like as well.

One of Gross' more obscure efforts was his 1944/45 version of Nize Baby. Nize Baby had been the title of a series of illustrated stories he did in the twenties. When they were collected, they were the basis for his fame and success. Written in his own very funny and almost illegible version of Yiddish, it was a celebration of Jewish pre-war stereotypical humor. Towards the end of the war he returned to the format with a series of letters by a Jewish mother to her son in the army, now calling it Dear Dollink. These page long piece (often with two or three illustrations) were a part of the King Features supplied Pictorial Review magazine, which had illustrated columns and short stories from all sorts of contributors - from Virgil Partch to Damon Runyon. In total there may have been as many as 100 episodes, none of which were ever collected as far as I know. They would be very suited for a collection, if not for two things: first of all, since they were first published in a large tabloid format of Pictorial Review, they would either have to be reprinted at that same pricey and unappetizing size. And secondly, the Gross' mock Jewish is so hard to get through, especially for those of us who have no reference for it, that no number of funny drawings would make up for the unreadability of it.

Still, I am trying to collect all of them and intend to self publish a digital version of a reprint book (which you can blow up to any size on your computer or tablet), possibly with notes. Unfortunately, these magazines are hard to come by and since every city was allowed to make their own line-up from the King Features offerings that some of the ones I got turned out to have no Gross.

Which is a long winded way of introducing you to two of the sampled and ask you what you think of it. Forgotten masterpiece or justly buried in the past?

Here are some of the earlier version of Nize Baby. As you can see, Gross was pretty much allowed to do anything he liked in the twenties.

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