Sunday, January 08, 2017

All For The Family

Saturday Leftover Day.

In 2007 Allen Holtz devoted a series of posts on his unmissable Stripper's Guide to a specialty newspaper section called Family Comics. Like me, he was alerted to it's existance by the fact that Ebay seller (and famous oriinal art dealer) Lowery had been selling original pages from the the strips in these sections. Without evidence of publication, they seemed to be either samples or unused pages by a lot of familiar names in the industry, most of which may or may not have been based on the West Coast (California) rather than the East Coast (New York). But they were pretty well done, stamped 'sponsored comics' on the back and some strips were represented with several samples. I myself even got two of them, one three tier half tabloid page of David Gantz' Wee 3 and a stylish full page of Gill Fox' The Mayor. Allan discovered these strips were actually used in a free give-away in Californian supermarkets, called Family Comics. Here is what he wrote initially:

"Family Comics. It consisted of 16 pages -- 11 pages of color Sunday-style comic strips, four pages of black and white recipe and homemaker articles, and an ad page on the back cover. The 'magazine' was on newsprint and priced at 5 cents.

The magazine was marketed to food store chains, mainly in California. I can vouch for two chains that used it - Shopping Bag Food Stores and Hughes Markets. It may have been marketed to other businesses as well, but for that I have no evidence. The food stores got their name in the masthead, ads on the back cover plus sometimes an additional ad inside. The marketing gimmick was obviously to get kids to beg their moms to shop at that grocery store chain every week so that junior could keep up with the funnies. To that end, the strips were tipped in favor of continuing adventures.

The first issue of Family Comics was dated the week of May 4-10 1959, and the latest issue I have is #10, dated July 6-12. If there are later issues we could probably determine it easily enough from original art as most of the strips were coded with the issuing week. For instance, on the strips in issue #10 each has the code 7/6-12 lettered on it."

After this he found out that the man behind this was former George MacManus assistant Zeke Zekley (through his outfir 'sponsored comics')

Allan finally got hold of an almost complete run of the publication that used these strips and discussed almost every one and it's possible artist. After that he sold his run of the section and I don't know why I didn't get it, but I believe I was outbit or sniped at the end. Darn. I would have loved to have seen all of them, especially that beautifull Gill Fox strip and Norman Maurer's contribution Happy Days 1969, which must be one of the smartest and best drawn things he ever did.

Ever since I have been looking for my own copies of Family Comics without luck. A couple of months ago I finally came across one single copy in excellent state. Sadly it is the same issue Allan seems to have used for his presentation, but that does not hold me back to share the whole thing with you here with some comments of my own. Here's to hoping the rest will follow before The End of Blogs.

I will use the information Allan has unearthed abd urge you to have a look at The Stripper's Guide for more.It may take me a while to annotated every one, so please come back for more.

1 comment:

Smurfswacker said...

This has to be the most obscure Russ Manning ever.