Monday, December 28, 2020

The Way Back Machine

 Sunday Surprise Day.

In the early forties the Chicago Sun created it's own 'comic' book Sunday insert, te be folded from their regular pages. Like The Spirit, although it was folded in a different way to form a small three tier oblong booklet. In it were several regular series, but also a whole lot of material that was especially created to be more action/pulp oriented, suchs as Streamer Kelly and the spy series Mister X (by Bert Whitman and Bernard Baily). I got a lot of those for the western story that came along a bit later: Vesta West, originated by Fred Maegher but continued by Ray Bailey. You will find all of my samples if you follow the links. Once I got them my other favorite was a charming comedy strip by Milt Caniff's letterer, Frank Engli called Rocky. Not as sarcastic as the later B.C. bu a similar set-up, about a young boy and his family in Neanderthal times. 

In his profile at The Stripper's Guide ( you can read more about him and see some more color samples of Rocky. It also mentions Looking back, which I had never seen. I always assumed Milt Caniff misremembered the title of Rocky when he mentioned it. It also says that Looking Back ran from December 30, 1945 to May 25, 1947.

But when I saw it recently, I flipped. Looking Back not a regular comic strip, but a half page cluttered drwing in the style of Sergio Aragonés in the later Mad and Caran d'Arche in France. Harvey Kurtzman and Mort Walker had also done a couple of these in Varsity, but it was not something you saw a lot. And here Frank Engli was doing it every week.

I went back to find the strip started on December 30, 1945 indeed and floowed it up to May 26, 1946, when the last half page gag apeared. After that it returned to a nine panel half page - very similar to what Rocky used to be. In fact I have to go back and check to see if they didn't use the same cast.

The last installment I found was April 6, so I have to go and check where the others are as well. Once I have them all I will do another post.

So here it is, the full run of Frank Engli's charming and unique half page gags of Looking Back.


Rob Stolzer said...

Those are quite wonderful, Ger! A bit of a Dudley Fisher vibe to the earlier ones, with that bird's-eye perspective view.


Ger Apeldoorn said...

Agreed, Fiher should be mentioned. As well as Fisher imitator Colin Allen who did the Right Around Home imitation What A Family.

Stefan said...