Monday, April 15, 2019

The Wrong Tack

Monday Cartoon Day.

Back when cartoons were still big (way befiore even I was born), getting your own regular series in one of the monthly (or even weekly) magazines was what every cartoonist hoped for. A guaranteed sale every issue and you were often allowed to have a non regular cartoon as well. Reamer Keller was one of the more succesful artists of his group (the forties and fifties mid-range cartoonists), but he didn't have a regular feature of his own. He had tried to get a brand going with rural hillbillie-like characters, but there were too many people doing that (including pre-Goofy Paul Murray) and his sense of humor didn't always fit within that small subject range - although he did sell a regular cartoon calle Kennesaw in the early fifties to Collier's and even managed to get a newspaper strip out of it. But suddenly, just after the war he hit it big with The American Legion, a rightwing weekly magazine for the former armed forces - filled with newsrelated articles, short stories and lots and lots of cartoons (including work by my favorites Mort Walker, Hank Ketcham and Virgil Partch, but also with Sam Stevens, Jack Mendelsohn and George Crenshaw). Early in 1946, his regular cartoon Hardtack started, a silent panel about a small kid dressed in what looks to me like a graduation baret in daring situations. The only problem was that is was not vert good. Reamer Keller always excelled at outrageous gags about men eand women and family situations, but somehow his efforts at silent humor never clicked. He also used a lot of gray wash, insted of the marvelous nervous line that was his trademark for the rest of his career. Hardtack (a good portion of which I scanned and cleaned for you) ended before the end of the year.

1 comment: