Sunday, July 14, 2019

The Shadow Lurks

Saturday Leftover Day.

The New York Sunday News is known for the fact that for many years they had various 'filler' strips, unique strips that were used by the editors to fill out the paper depending on the amount of ads sold and/or what they didn't like in the line-up that week. Some of these strips were created especially for them others seem to be leftovers from failed strip proposals. This practice seems to have started in the mid fifties and I have shared many of them. They were usually left at the office in batches, so that the editors could use whatever they needed at whatever time. My absolute favorite is Gill Fox' Bumper to Bumper, which I have shown here many times. My friend Michael Vassallo, who is scanning all strips from all issues of the New York Sunday News from as far back as he can get them, is showcasing them on the albums page of his Facebook The New York Sunday News Comics History Group and I recommend you have a look there.

But the The New York Sunday News wasn't the only paper using fillers and probably not the first either. The New York Herald Tribune started using fillers in the late forties, with Harvey Kurtzman's Silver Linings one of the best known among collectors. Most of these filers were one tier gag strips - but longer than a daily strip and always in clor. Some of these strips even developed into full Sunday only strips, like my favorites Coogy by Irv Spector and Jeanie by Selma Diamond and Gill Fox. Like the fillers, they were never distributed to another paper.

One of the weirder fillers is this strip I am showing here, about a shadowy silhouet figure doing normal things. Using characters like that must have been in the atmosphere, because around the same time cartoonist Ponce de Léon was doing a 'naughty shadow' type gag series for The American Legion. Of course, years later, Sergio Aragones did his own 'the shadow knows' version for Mad. I have more of The Imp, which I will show later (after I have cleaned them).

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