Sunday, June 21, 2020

The Ghost of Coogies Past

Sunday Wait I Have More Day.

Not long after I started this blog I discovered Irv Spector's Coogy. Spector was a fromer animator and cartoonist, who developed the Indian Bears strip in the late forties as a one tier filler for the Herald Tribune. The similarity to Pogo was intentional, although it must be remembered that the nationally syndicated version of the Pogo newspaper strip still had to start at that point. But Walt Kellys opossum was of course already a hit in the comics before that and had started a limited run in a leftwing New York paper. Coogy was soon upgraded to a weekly (Sunday only) half page strip, allowing Irving to show his terrific art and funny ideas in all their glory. Like most Nerald Tribune strips, it was to good for the general public (or maybe they just had lousy sellers) and it only stayed in the Trib section until deep into 1954.

In the later years he started doing spoofs of comics, literature and movies as well. Included here is one episode of a four episode take-off of The Maltese Falcon. Accoridng to the family, he was contacted by Harvey Kurtzman to join Mad early on (my guess would be around #6, when Harvey had to move the succesful comic from two-monthly to monthly), but declined because he needed all his time for Coogy.

I loved this strip and I was lucky. There was an Ebay seller selling loads of Tribune sections and pages. I wish I had gotten more, but it did leave me with huge runs of Tom Corbett, Sherlock Holmes, The Saint, Jeannie and other unique Herald Tribune series. In cluding Coogy, of course. I shared many of those with my audience here and you can still find them if you follow the link below.

And that's not everything. The posts got me a reply from Irv Specor's son, who told me he still had all of his father's originals (excluding one whole box that got lost in a move). he sent me some scans of those and I started lobbying for a Coogy reprint book. As far as I am concerned it was a shoe-in for Fantagraphics (who also do the complete Pogo). Saly, I never got through to them. Spector's son fell off the radar and despite my many requests on the blog page he once opened for his father, I never heard from him again. I hope he is alright and still has the originals. If he ever wants to oart with them I am sure they will make him a lot of money (even if he donates them to the Billy Ireland Museum in return for a hefty tax deduction - they are the appropriate choice because they have a complete set of Herald Tribunes).

I also kept on looking for more tearsheets. Unfortunately, they are hard to come by. Due to the fact that the strip is so unknown, it is never clipped. On Ebay these days, hardly anyone sells whole sections anymore. All people want now is quick samples, so it's tearsheets everywhere. But when choosing whoch strips to clip and which to ruin, most sellers never choose the unknown Coogy.

Last week I got a set of half page 1952 Jeannies from one of those sellers (sent about six weeks ago, but packages are slow these days). On the back I found three new Coogys, which I am sharing here. I also found one cut-up one tier Coogie, showing it was not deemed clippable by the seller.

I still hope to be able to get a complete five year run somewhere, put them together in a book along with loads of scans from the original. If there is anyone out there who can get me closer to this gaol, please contact me. And tell me what you think. Is Coogy as good as I say it is? I should have more episodes in the backlog, which I will try and add later.

Well there turned out to be one more, so here it is: I was reminded in the comments that I have one of the one tier strips in microfiche form...


Jeff Nelson said...

These are very nice - a strip which had run under my radar up to this point. I will definitely look at your other posts, and add this one to the list of items to be looking for at Thanks you once again for yet again opening my eyes to something new.

Ger Apeldoorn said... doesn't have The Herald Tribune. Neither do or If you ever come across a service that does. I'll be joining it. But good thing you reminded me, because I did find one of the earlier one tier strips on Genaeology and will add it now.

Jeff Nelson said...

Someday - someday - I hope to get the opportunity to go down to DC and spend some quality time in the Library of Congress. I'd love to browse through their bound archives of True, Judge, Liberty, Cosmopolitan, Ballyhoo, Vanity Fair, and I don't know what else. I note that they also have a microfilm run of the Herald Tribune. IF this ever happens - a very big 'if' considering the pandemic - I would be most happy to capture images for you.

Ger Apeldoorn said...

The Billy Ireland Museum has bound books of at least 1954 and 1955 Sunday HT papers. But copies are impossibly expensive.

Jeff Nelson said...

Ah, the Billy Ireland. Getting there some time is very high on my bucket list of things to accomplish before I die. Unfortunately, my current life situation is such that it is highly doubtful that I will manage to accomplish this goal until after I retire, in about 10 years. And when I do get there, I will probably need to rent an apartment in Columbus, and spend 5 or 6 months delving into their incomparable archives.