Saturday, August 07, 2021

For All It's Worth

Saturday Leftover Day. 

Every Saturday Morning I sit down an think: "What shall I show them this week?" This time I have a small item for you, but I think it is rather worth your time. It is a small article written by Allen Saunders for Editor and Publisher, the trade magazine for newspaper editors. Theze days all issuees are avaiable at the Internet Archives Wayback Machine. I have been going there to get all the comic strip related material (which is quite a lot and often quite special).  I have not yet gone through the trouble of cleaning them up or putting things together in a presentable manner (for one, they all have to be cobevrted into a bloggerfriendly .jpg). But it's a start.

Allen Saunders is often considered as the father of soap opera strips. He started out as a newspaper strip writer for Big Chief Wahoo, which under his penmanship soon became Steve Roper (and later Steve Roper and Mike Nomad). Roper was an enjoyable strip, for a long time ghostdrawn by Pete Hoffman. When he went of to do his own (less succesful) detective strip Jeff Cobb. Wihout Saunders, although his Wiipedia page has him saying at the launch: "Hopefully, some of Allen Saunders' expertise rubbed off on me when I worked on Steve Roper." 

Steve Roper was continued by William Overgard, who got the job because of a recommendation by Milt Caniff. Overgard had been sending samples to Caniff sionce he was still a teenager, hoping to one day become an assistant to the Terry and the Pirates and Steve Canyon artist. Instead he got Roper outright, which he drew in a vaguely Caniff inspoired style - but not as much so as some of his work for Gleason's crime comics or the Steve Canyon parody he did for Joe Kubert and Norman Maurer's Mad imitation Whack. Somewhere in the late fifties another Gleason alumnus, Bill Wenzel, started doing lay-outs for him and he simplified his inking style to a point where I don't like it at all from the seventies onward. Saunders wrote the strip until not long before his death. In 1979, Saunders retired and turned over the writing of Steve Roper and Mary Worth to son John.

But he wrote other strips as well. He also wrote Alfred Andiola's Kerry Drake and with Mary Worth, he established that soap opera strips were a viable commodity for newspapers, with most of the readers females (which made it more interesting for some advertisers). he is not the only soap opera strip writer, of course. Elliott Caplin took up the baton very nicely with The Heart of Juliet Jones, for instance.


I don't have any new Steve Roper or Mary Worth material to add with this. As I said, I never really scanned a lot of it, partically because I don't like the later years artwise and partly because I believe you have to read these things in longer form. If you use the link, you will find some of it on the blog, though.

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