Monday, August 24, 2015

Shadow Post

Monday Cartoon day.

One of the best cartoon series I have ever seen, did not appear in a normal magazine or a newspaper, but in Mad. When Sergio Aragonés arrived in New York in the early sixties, he immediately created two of his greatest contributions to Al Feldstein's magazine: his drawn out drama's, which have graced the borders of Mad ever since and his 'looks at', in which he pokes fun at different subjects with a variety of jokes. It wasn't until December 1966 that he introduced his third great creation, the one that concerns me here, The Shadow Knows. He only did a couple of instalments (I count seven up till now), but when I first saw it, it impressed the hell out of me and I looked for it in every issue. It was so original and so funny! I think the power of Aragonés still has a lot to do with how funny the (implied) silhouettes of his characters are. Instantly readable slapstick.

In one of his autobiographical stories in the Dark Horse published series of Aragonés Comics he told the story of how he once thought of another great gimmick, a feature called 'they were punished in hell' showing how certain annoying people would get their own back when they had died and gone to the Great Below. And how he abandoned the plan when he discovered that the great Jim Hatlo had done the same idea on his They Do It Everytime Sunday page in the late fifties. At that time Aragonés was still in Mexico, so he couldn't be accused of stealing it. But he didn't want to risk that either.

So it's a good thing he wasn't aware of Ponce the Leon's IMPulses gag series for American Legion between 147 and 1951. Similar in idea to the gags Aragonés drew, it was different as well. First of all, the gags weren't half as funny or well drawn, and secondly de Leon seems to have wavered from his original concept of a shadow showing the secret thoughts of people to included wishes, dreams and scares as well. Also, his way to attach the shadow to the main character was often not as clear as the simple morality shadow play Aragonés created. Still, it can't have been an easy thing to come up with a new one every month. Maybe that's why Sergio only did so few.


joecab said...

Wow, these are great! I especially like the kid being punished and the statue ones.

alan geez said...

Thanks Ger. Great concept, so funny.
Love the art!

rnigma said...

De Leon's style is much like that of Spy vs. Spy creator Antonio Prohias.