Sunday, November 20, 2022

Masters Of The Jungle


Sunday Al Williamson Surprise

The thirdAl Wiulliamson/Ralph Mayo story from Jann of the Jungle #17 is another one with less Williamsoin, but his style certainly is there. In fact, I see it as a perfect bridge between his earlier Frazetta/Fleagles influenced style and his later Raymond/Prentice work.

The Complete Idea

 Saturday Leftover Day.

Unfortunately getting together today's post took longer than I expected. In the long run it doesn't really matter, so I just kept going. Recently, I came across a newspaper comic strip ad, I had seen before but never closely looked at. It was a daily ad, that was used every Tuesday in the paper where I found it. 

Daily ads were not an uncommon thing in the forties and fifties. One of the most well known is the Wildroot series of Al Capp's Fearless Fosdick, which ran for many years. Dik Brown did several, inlcuding The Bolster Family, The Royal Twins, Birdseye and the long running series Life's That Way, which upon research I see I ahve shared here yet. So that's one for another day.

That Gives Me An Idea was a once a week two tier daily ad for Wrigley's Spearmint gum. In both papers I found that ran it, it was published on Tuesdays. The basic set-up was simple and always the same. Someone observes someone (often a kid) trying to solve a problem. He gives that kid a stick of gum and he or she puts it in her mouth in two small panels. Then she solves the problem. The next panel the main character sees someone else with a similar problem and exclaims: That Gives Me An Idea!. That text is spread over this panel and the previous one, connecting them. He then gives the second person (usually an adult in a professional situation) a piece of gum in a lager panel, he or she puts it in his or her mouth in another small panel and then succeeds in doing what they wanted to do. The whole thing is textless, except for the slogan and it is drawn in a nice, comfortable style, reminiscent of the European 'clear line'. As an additional feature, the whole two tiers are shaped in a recognizable wave form, which (along with the rigid format) was kept for whole of the run.

The style seemed familiar to me, not only because of the clear line. My first idea was, that it could in some way be connected to another comfortable strip I know, The Toodles by The Bears. A family strip from the mid to late forties, that was written on a dare by a couple and ended up being a reasonable succes. The artist on that strip was called Rod Ruth. I looked for samples of The Toodles and I immediately found a run that supported my first guess. I have included those, so you can see for yourself.

So when I started collecting them, they went on for a lot longer than I thought. In the first paper the earliest one I could find was from April 20 1954. But then there were more, and more, and more. When I reached June 1955, I decided to look ahead to see where it might end. Turns out the last one appeared on December 27 1955. I still have to grab a few more, which I might do later. It's not as if you haven't seen enough of them if you have sen the first ten. But the long run in intself is remarkable. And at the very least, a significant addition to Rod Ruth's career.

As for that, the always reliable Comiclopedia page on Rod Ruth by my friends at Lambiek, suggests that the later work of Ruth on The Toodles might have been ghosted by Paul Voorhees, who later might have taking over The Toodles altogether, But the sample they show from 1957 clear has the halmarks of Ruth's own style. And the later Voorhees samples haven't. So I am sticking to my guess that these ads were by Ruth, not one of his assistants or ghosts.

But that's not all. After finding the almost two year run, I decided to have another look to see if I could find other, earlier of later, samples of this ad series. I found another paper, which had the same end date. They did however start two years earlier than the first samples I had. And then it only stopped, because my microfiche source does not have that paper for 1951 or even January 1 1952.

So now I am looking for earlier samples and I found at at least one thing: the phrase That Gives Me An Idea is used in comic strips a lot. When I search on it, more than half of the hits are from comic strips. No other spearmint ads from this series before 1952, though. Another copmplication is, that although most of my samples will show that Ruth almost never repeated himself, in the earlier runs there seem to be more repeats. I may have to get all of them to get to the bottom of this.


And here is the style guide from a 1946 The Toodles week.