Monday, August 14, 2017

In The Pocket

Monday Cartoon Day.

Over the years, I have been showing a lot of Mort Walker's cartoons here. It got me an invitation to Mort Walker's house, where I spent a couple of days last month to help Bill Janocha with a book he is doing on the subject. Using many of Mort's own originals (some of them unsold and therefor unpublished) it will be a spectacular tome. Since Mort Walker was such a success as a cartoonist, the book won't be collecting all of his work (we found a list of 3000 cartoons he did in the four years he was at it). Some of the rares pieces he did do (which probably won't be in the book, or at least not all of them) were for Martin Goodman's Atlas magazines. Goodman is know here for his comic book division, run by his nephew once removed, Stan Lee. But he also had a whole magazine division, which was run by others, such as his brother Abe and editor Mel Blum. Covering the whole length of periodicals from chique to not so chique, he also dabble in a genre taht was very popular in the fifties - the digest sized and pocket sized magazines. Focus had been an oversized broadsheet in the late forties (edited by Stan Lee even), but in the fifties it was turned into a pocketsized magazine. Supposedly for the commuter wanting to read something on the train, although the pictures of scantily dressed ladies or the articles about strip clubs didn't really allow for that. Slightly bigger (and only slightly more respectable) was Brief, which was digest sized. From the content and the quality of production, I would say Martin Goodman was trying to eat into the sales of the similar Pageant or even Coronet. It is in that magazine that Mort Walker illustrated two articles with his cartoons. By 1952 the Sunday for Beetle Bailey had been added and Mort was not really doing any more new cartoons, but these seem ti have been a. an exception and b. especially ordered. I'd love to know the whole story about them, but sadly, Mort doesn't really remember. The success of Beetle overtook all of that.

I will be selling my digest and pocket magazines on Ebay this week, so do give that a look if you have a chance.

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