Saturday, July 18, 2020

Jean Jeanie

Saturday Leftover Day.

Because I am not done scanning a new one tomorrow and an oldie today. But what an oldie it is.

I have shown some samples of Gill Fox's Jeanie before. Jeanie was one of those New York Herald Tribune strips that started out as a Sunday filler, got bumped to a Sunday only and later even had a daily version added. It was also one of the few of the Trib's strips that did get sold outside of the mother paper (although not enough to make it a lasting succes). The artist is no one less then on eof the most prolific artistic chameleons of the forties, fifties and sixties (and even beyond). Gill Fox started in the forties at Quality, where he drew a few strips of his own, but also added to the brand by being one of the few artists who could follow in Jack Cole's footsteps. After the war, he joined the famed advertising agent Johnstone and Cushing, where he apparently teamed up with Dik Browne. Their styles blended into a seemless unity, slicker than Browne on his own and more lively than Fox solo. There are several ads from that period where I can't say who did what or even if they worked together on it. At some point either was allowed to sign, both using exactly the same style. I have written an article about that period and Harry Haenigsen's influence on their styles for Hogan's Alley, which will appear in the next issue.

Somewhere along that time Fox was teamed up with Selma Diamond to create Jeanie. Diamond was at that point mostly known as a New York sketch writer, who worked for the famous Your Show of Shows, along with such greats as Mel Brooks and Mel Tolkin and a few others not named Mel. It is said that she could stand toe to toe with them, which is suite an accomplishment because she was not much over five foot. She later also worked as an actress and you may know her best as the gravely-voiced bailiff Selma Hacker on the tv comedy Nightcourt.

The humor in Jeanie is more subtle than that of her contemporaries at Your Show of Shows, which may show another side of her talent. The strip started as a one tier Sunday only. The larger size has confused some collectors of original art. A lot of it is still around, probably because Fox himself kept and sold it at the end of his career. I am not quite sure if she wroote them all herself. The early diary ones are probably hers, but after that it is possible someone else took over. On the other hand, on the first few one tier gags she seems quite capable of dling proper comic strip gags. The more storybased daily version (which you can see if you follow the links) may be less of her style. Somewhere in 1953, he left the strip (when it had added a time consuming daily) and Leon Winik took over in a similar but less inspiring style.

Recently I found and scanned a whole new set of Sundays. For this presentation I have gone back and recleaned all of my previous scans (I always keep the raw scans) so it adds up to a nice overview of this unjustly forgotten strip.


Stefan said...

Did this start in the Herald and then was distributed to other papers? The run that I can see (and compiled dailies and Sundays as well) are from 1952 to 53.

Ger Apeldoorn said...

Yes, it was distributed outside of the Herald through their syndicate, athoug I don't know how many papers took it. I vaguely remember only the daily version got sold.