Sunday, March 15, 2020

Another Perfect Day You Got Me Into

 Sunday Happy Day

For some years now I have been collecting all samples of comic strips that were publisehd on the day I was born, 61 years ago today. After the first rush, the new finds slowed down to a trickle, but I managed to find another March 15, 1959 paper this year. So I am able to ad a couple of new strips and/or replace some black and white samples with color ones. I will be adding more this week, as I am still busy cleaning them.

If anyone has any scans of strips I have not yet (or better versions) I would love to hear from you. That would be the perfect gift.

B.C. One of my favorite cartoon strips, I have many samples of the early years.



Beetle Bailey (three tier in black and white). Again, a favorite, certainly the early years.




Hi and Lois. Anything from the Walker factory between 1956 and 1962 will do for me.


Miss Peach. Not the funniest, but certainly very influential.


Peanuts. Linus could learn Calvin a few tricks (and in fact, he did).


Popeye, another classic. At this point still drawn anonymously (with Bill Zaboli signing) by Ralph Stein and about to be taken over (and to new heights) by Bud Sagendorf this same year.


Tillie the Toiler. Famous longrunning strip started by Russ Westover and continued by later Mort Walker associate Bob Gustavson. John W Kennedy notes that this was in fact the last episode of this strip.


Tom Trick. I love these game panels, of which there were several over the years.



Cappy Dick. I love these game Sundays.



Funland. Did I mention I love these game features?


Fun Time. We haven't even scratched the surface of these. Herb Williams was a well known cartoonist, whose talents are a little bit squandered here.


Uncle Remus. Used to read this when I was quite young.


They Do It Every Time. Hatlo was a cartoon genius.


There Ougtha Be A Law. Midbrowe humor.


The Nebbishes. A very weird and quirky strip by the later famous play and film writer. One of these days I should do a run of these. I still have more than I have shown.


The Comic Zoo, a delighful feature from a very good artist. I also have many of his caricatures.



Stees Sees. One of many themed gag panels.


Our Boarding House, the original blowhard.



On the Record. A perennial gag panel, which seems to have more succes than it deserves. In Mort Walkers ledgers I found a note that he may have sold one or two gags to the artist, but of course I have never found them.


Cartoon by Harry Mace from the Sunday section This Week.


Louie, possibly the best silent strip ever. Not the weirdest, but the most consequently funniest.


Life's Like That. Another not so funny gag series, popular because it could be cut so many ways.


Jack's Diary. Jack Mendelsohn tour the force cartoon series. When I started this he was still with us.


Grin and Bear It. Not my cup of tea, but funnier than most of these panels.


Fanfare. An oddball sports series does a Sunday version as well.
Cartoon by Claude from another Sunday section.


Channel Chuckles. In my view the best thing Bill Keane ever did.



Cartoons by Boltinoff from American Weekly, from a syndicated section.


Carnival. Another ho-hum cartoon series.


Around Home. A recent article on this feature in Hogan's Alley was very interesting, but sort of skipped over the the later years. Justifyably so.


Scamp, never as funny as it seemed, but certainly charming.


Rivets. The sound a very silent frog makes.



Pogo. I love Pogo as much for it's gags and storylines as the terrific art, but the silent Sundays may be the the best. I am almost honored there was one on my birthday.


Mickey Mouse. Another strip that was so common for so many years that there never has been a collection. I wish someone would give these later years the same attention the thirsties and forties get.


Donald Duck



Cicero Cat. Mutt and Jeff's cat became a force of it's own.



Ceasar, a dog.


 Bugs, a bunny.


Will-Yum, a kid. Gerard was a very good and well respected cartoonist from the forties, whose style was ahead of his time. By the time he got this strip, it had almost become oldfashioned.



Freddy, another kid. Why this strip was in so many papers, escapes me.


 The much more hilarious topper to Our Boarding House.


Smokey Stover. More screwball madness.



Don Tobin was another cartoonist who ended up doing a funny newspaper strip. And whose Sunday strip was never as funny as his cartoons.


 The Little King was still going strong in the late fifties. And still pretty clever.



Recently on a British Bargain Hunt antiques program no one recognized Hans und Fritz, the original inspiration to The Katzenjammer Kids. The series was split off when the original artist Dirks, left for another syndicate and Knerr took over. By 1959 Knerr was followed by Joe Musial.


And Dirks was succeeded by his son on the original imitation.



Strips like these gave the fifties a bad name. Or at least they would, if anyone remembered them.



Sweeney & Son, best known for the rhyming topper by the artist (not included).



Snuffy Smith. Although Fred Lasswell was a grat artist I never cared for his hillbilly humor.



The Smith Family. One of the early modern strips.


Penny. Haenigsen was a far better stylist then he cared to show.


Our Bill. And here he doesn't show it again. I was recently asked if it was ever a solo strip, but I think it started as a topper and stayed that. I don't think there were any papers that ran it without Penny.


Mr. and Mrs. outlived it's welcome by fifteen years, which is only five year more than it ran.


The Potts. Apparently a Australian strip.



Nancy. Bushmiller was past his peak here, but still a great stilist.


Nancy started out as a side character in Bushmiller's other strip, Fritzi Ritz. Often just as funny, it ran alongside nancy long after she became the main feature.



My friend Frank Young collects the work of Cecil Jensen and produces books of them. Like Bushmiller, his mundane style hides a weird and almost surreal sense of humor, especially on his first strip Elmo. I have added a link to Amazon on the right, so you go and have a look for yourself. He is currently working on a collection of Jensen's second strip, Little Debbie. Slightly less weird, but underrated.


Mutt and Jeff were going for longevity rather than humor.


 Morty Meekle. Consistantly not as funny as it looked.


Mopsy. Gladys Parker knew how to charm her audience.


Mr. Breger had been an army strip, after which life got very dull.



 Little Joe. Not very funny but beatifully drawn (probably by Harold Gray).



 Little Iodine was a spin-off of Jimmy Hatlo's daily panel and always looked great.


Hubert was another family comedy strip by a former cartoonist.




Henry was an inspiration for dumb bald kids everywhere.



Grandmaw doesn't feature in her own strip here. Not that that would make it any funnier.




 Out Our Way was another strip from the thirties that had long outlived it's welcome.


And here's another kid's strip that was better when it first started.


Ferd'nand was a one of the great silent strips. Shows you how far you can go if you are old-fashioned.


 Emmy Lou. Another girl strip. Pretty soon Lee Holley would show how it should be done.


Dotty. A Blondie clone without the style - or the humor.


One of the problems in the late fifties, was that many of the old favorites were still being published even though they had almost all lost whatever made them stand out in the first place. Freckles and his Friends is one of those strips I actually find hard to even read.


Dixie Dugan was another one f those strips that had outstayed their welcome in the late fifties, but remained even longer. Not particulary badly drawn, but not exciting eitehr - and certainly very oldfashioned even at this point.


Right Around Home is slightly better because of it's original concept. But what was original in the early forties could easily seem old hat in the fifties and sixties. The style was also being surpassed by the new generation of modern cartoonists. It (and the format) had also been used to death in various advertising strips, particulary those of Aunt Jemina by Stan Randall.

Lolly. NOTVERYLOL



Dennis the Menace. I love Hank Ketcham's work and so I have resisted looking at the Sunday page, which was neither written nor drawn by him. Maybe I should have another look and do a piece on them, though. It certainly has many fans.

 
 Brenda Breeze was a crossover sttrip. Part girl strip, part silent stip and all not funny.


 These Boots are made for snoring.




I actually prefer the tighter cropped version of Blondie, which you could find in the full tabloid and as a three tier. The larger panels in the four tier seem padded.




Colonel Potterby and the Dutchess was a companion strip to Blondie. It was created by Chic Young's assistant Jim Raymond (Alex' Brother) who later also took over the drawing of the main strip. If he was still drawing either at this point is unknown to me.


 I think I read somewhere that around this time the Sunday Archie was drawn by Al Plastino.
.



Rick O'Shay started out as a gag strip and slowly turned into a more seriously drawn strip.


As charming as it may look now, the Flop Family was hopelessly out of date by the late fifties. Swan was a terrific artist and screwball specialist, whose best period seems to have been the thirties. A bit like Orson Welles, but without the sherry ads.


Moon Mullins, another leftover from the forties. It seems to me that whenever you look at newspaper strips there are always a couple of strips that are at least twenty years past their sellby date.



Mostly Malarky. Should have changed his first name to Nutmuch.



Mickey Finn. How an otherwise great artist like Morris Weiss could spend the last twenty years of his life on this, I'll never know.  I think this is just before or after he took over. But no one could tell.




I keep collecting The Little People in the hope that when I read a longer stretch of them it will be funnier or at least as well written as it is drawn. I have a soft spot for Walt Scott and will showcase a whole year of his often maligned Captain Easy as soon as I have scannend and cleaned them.



The Teenie Weenies was a kids illustrated story that went on for years, I wonder how many kids actually read them. You could of course also read them to your kids at bedtime, but you would have to take care not to fall asleep before they do.


Gordo, one of the most stilishly drawn strips of his generation. And the writing is fun too, like a jazz improvisation with language and images. This Sunday is single one most pinched scan of this blog. I should have added a link on it (which I do now whenever I think of it).

 

Man, what a great strip Paul Robinson could have made if he hadn't decided to do this family drivel instead. Almost as good as the Bill Elder parody in Trump (google it). He also did a couple of romance comic strip stories, which I should add to the blog one day.

 

The same goes for The Toodles by The Bears. Another beautifully drawn strip which failed to catch fire.


Finally, a good strip. Funny, well drawn Too bad it seems neither the writer (Mel Casson) nor the artist (Alfred Andriola) had anything to do with it. Okay, maybe Casson did, but the drawing is probably all by Andriola's assistent Gumen.


 

Vernon Greene was allowed to continue one of the great American strips and despite doing a great job, he turned it into a so-so feature.




 I would buy a collection of Long Sam and so should you.


Little Orphan Annie. Conservatism as is should be.




Annie's companion strip was a very simple gag strip in a very simple style. As I understand it, it was drawn by Harold Gray's assistants while Gray in turn drew the assistant's 'own' strip Little Joe. Either way it's graphically very nice although Little Joe is just a little bit better.

Smilin' Jack. Another one of those Chicago style adventure strips.

 
Li'l Abner Sundays were still being draw by Frank Frazetta at this time.


Moe Leff was still drawing Joe Palooka. I am scaning a longer run of these Sundays right now, which remind me more than a little of Bill Elder's work. And they are quite funny too.


 Brenda Starr was everything a woman's strip should be: atmospheric, soapy and surprising.




Gasoline Alley. A strip that outlived it's welcome for over a decade before being reborn to absolute brilliance.



Dick Tracy, I am keeping the black and whote because of the topper and the bad color.



 Some of Leslie Turner's Easy is reprinted and the stories are as good as the art.


 
Buz Sawyer. I can see the same for Buz Sawyer, but that is because Roy Crane's art is unsurpassable.

 
Somehow Alley Oop as a two tier seems like a comedown after it's brilliance of the thirties and forties. I started this blog because I found the fifties underappreciated, usually put down as a poorer version of the previous decades while in fact many new exciting strips were started and tried out. But in this case I have to agree with the historians. The slow decline of strips such as Alley Oop were a very real part of the fifties. Just not a part I prefer to look at.



For instance, the fifties were the best decade for advertising strips. This longrunning series by Creig Flessel is just one of the many samples on my blog.


Colgate Ad. Less impressive, more all-American.

 
And so we get to the adventure strip. Maybe not as adventurous as the thirties, but at least the fifties had a genre all of their own: the soap opera strips. As you can see, Rex Morgan M.D. was one of those strips that lost a panel in the conversion from half page to full tabloid size (if only a sliver).



Buck Rogers by Murphy Anderson. Soon to be taken over by George Tuska.


Dondi. In color it is even more impressive.



Winnie Winkle. Did you know the thirties incarnation of this strip actually formed the basis of one of Holland's most succesful strips, taking Winnie's nephew Perry as a starting point? And there was a shortlived French version as well, all due to the war and the fact that orignal material was harder to come by.

 
Although I prefer the Disney Treasure installments by Jesse Mash and will show some soon, these Disney Movie adaptations are a favorite of baby boomers everywhere.



Jed Cooper. Never a big hit, but solidly drawn by Rick Fletcher. I showed more of his work this year.


Old Glory was a lot like Jed Cooper and it was drawn by Rick Fletcher instead of Dick Fletcher. The second one went on to work with on Dick Tracy.


Vic Flint ran longer than it deserved. Soon after this it had a weird last leg, you can find here.I recently showed a whole lot of those to universal acclaim.

 

Lone Ranger. Of all the western strips in the fifties The Lone Ranger ran the longest and the most undservedly so. I prefer any of the others, like the soon to be appearing Bat Masterson.

 

Roy Rogers strip at least was slightly better drawn than The Lone Ranger. Al McKimson seems to have used various assistants on it. In 1960 Alex Toth famously did a couple of weeks.


The Jackson Twins. Maybe I should read a longer story before deciding it is dull.


Terry and the Pirates. Too much the same for over thirty years to become the classic it may actually deserve to be.

 
The Superman newspaper strip is finally being reprinted in two sets, one starting in the forties and one starting here. Beautifully drawn, but somehow the rythm seems to be off.



Little Annie Rooney was a cheap attempt to steal the succes of Little Orphan Annie, but it lacked the simple minded vision of a driven creator.


I love former Milt Caniff's assistant's work in the comics in the early fifties (and I have a few great samples on my blog) but somehow Steve Roper always seemed a bit rushed.

 
Steve Canyon. As great as it's said to be. Read it.


The Saint, a strip that is actually better written than it is drawn in my opinion. I have a whole ste of fill in strips by Bob Lubbers, which are even better. After Lubbers Doug Wildey took over, but I never have been able to find samples after 1963 - except one from 1967!



On Stage. I know it's been reprinted and reprinted well, but these were made to be seen in color.

 
 A great looking sample of a not always great looking strip.

 
Juliet Jones is the one soap opera strip that should be reprinted entirely. Buy the books from Classic Comcis Press and help make the full series a reality.


 As dull as the storytelling is, I have a soft spot for Dan Heilman's Caniff light style.


One of the best detective strips of the fifties is marred by the fact that it's creator Aflred Andriola seems to have let his assistants do all the work and gave them none of the credit (and very litle of the money). The stories are quite good and could have been done for television.


Jane Arden fails the comparison to Juliet Jones and therefore I have never read a full story.

 
Big Ben Bolt. After the reprinting of this series by Classic Comic Press was stoopped because of bad sales I am trying to get the whole thing myself. It wil take a while, but this is soap opera adventure as it shoudl be done.


Now here's a great sf strip that actually is reprinted and reprinted well.  Jack Kirby and Walace Wood.





 I wish someone would do an article on Believe it or Not and tell me how it was made and by whom.


Ripley's Believe It or Not was derivative of the sports cartoons that had been done in papers from the start of the century. But it did start it's own trend of illustrated factual features (as well as loads and loads of imitations in advertising). Some of these features are actually among my favorite things to find in Sunday newspapers.

Stange as it Seems is a straighforward Ripley rip-off. Why anyone would want to be a Ripley's wannabe is beyond me.



Closer Than We Think. This is the weirdest strip ever. It came over all serieus, with actual advisors and such, but I always imagine the artist silently giggling when he drew it. If have seen over three years of these 'predictions' and not one of them ever actually came true.



Our New Age is one of my favorites. It uses science novelties in a way that is similar to Closer Than You Think but less futuristic in style and subject. But it is not the premise that makes me like this strip so much, it is the art by Gene Fawcette, the third artist on this feature. This early sample is by cartoonist Carl Rose, working under the anagrammic pseudonymn Earl Cros (hence the single s). Samples of all three can be found elsewhere on this blog. I would not mind a collection of Fawcette's strips (which included a daily one panel version).


The Good Ol' Days is less impressive, both stylistically and in subject.


But the best of these is the psychological advice feature Let's Explore Your Mind. It had started in the early forties, but at this point the art was handles by a very funny artist. Stylistically I traced it back to Richard Doxsee, a not very well known artist who started out in a realistic style based on that of Al Williamson and his friends. But in the early sixties he turned up at Cracked magazine in a funny style, very much like this one. On the other hand, I recently bought two originals of this strip, which were said to have been done by Dan Heilman. Heilman did the daily and Sunday Judge Parker, so I doubt he would have had time to do this daily and Sundays as well. Still, he did use an assistent on Parker (Harold LeDoux, who later took over the strip completely and in later nterviews said he was doing everything long before that) and maybe Doxsee was an assistant too? The only thing that is not explained is the fact that Judge Parker was for a different syndicate, which is very unusual.


Rusty Riley. A fan favorite because of the subject (horses) and the artist (Frank Godwin).


 
 Our New Age was stilish and informative. I recently found out that the second artist, Gene Fawcett, also did a daily version.



 Flash Gordon by Mac Raboy. I actually read this strip in the sixties in the Dutch weekly Pep and was fascinated by te slightly wooly sf style.


Chis Welkin had been a daily and Sunday strip in the early fifties and continued as a Sunday only after that. Somewhere are the late fifties Art Sansom (Later of The Born Loser's fame) reached his peak as a realistic artist.



Like Frank Godwin Raemond van Buren was an old time illustrator who was tempted to do a newspaper strip. The writing by Al Capp (or possibly his brother, by then) was funny and it has it's own fans. Maybe one of them has the half page version for me.


Mark Trail was as sull as diswater, but very nicely drawn on the Sundays. I just found out the the writer Ed Dodd also deviced and wrote David Crane. Religious and dull. What are the odds.




 Tim Tyler's luck. What surprises me is the quality of the art at this point.



Mandrake on the other hand is a stiff as he ever was.



Also by Falk, The Phantom would find new life when Sy Barry started drawing it a few years later.


Johnny Reb, one of the great experiments of the late fifties.


David Crane didn't really get off the ground until Creig Flessel started drawing it a short year after this.


John Celardo was never the most exciting Tarzan artist. I would even go so far as to say he did not do his best work for Tarzan, but for the comics he drew in the fifties and possible when he took over The Green barets from Joe Kubert in the sixties.


 Tales From the Great Book. The subject matter makes it for people who do not appreciate the vilent nature of the subject matter. Creig Flessel (him again) did a smilar but visually ore exciting job on the same subject in his bible series for Boy's Life.


Lance by Warren Tufts. It's hard to tell a good story in Sunday only format. Especially when you have to drop the captions and use balloons. A week is too long to wait for the next installment. Visually Tuft delivered, tough. His five year run has been reprinted in black and white and deserves a full color deluxe treatment.


Kevin the Bold. The two and three tier are totally different.



Prince Valiant. Still the master of the genre at this point. In color or black and white.


Towards the end of the fifties the comic strip ads started disappearing and more cartoony stuff like this took over.


Last year I also added the complete contents of the newspaper supplement This Week. It seems like the perfect end to this perfect day to me.

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