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  • mistermuse 2:17 pm on May 14, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Al Capp, Beetle Bailey, , , Doonesbury, Dr. Seuss, Flash Gordon, , Hearst newspapers, L'il Abner, Milton Caniff, Peanuts, Pogo, Terry and the Pirates, The Phantom, Wizard of Id   

    A FUNNY THING HAPPENED (CONCLUSION) 

    Although I didn’t realize it at the start, the 1933 magazine article on which I based my previous 3-part series (FUNNY ON PAPER) was the midpoint between the beginnings of the American comic strip in the early 1890s, and the end (mid 1970s) of the period covered by THE SMITHSONIAN COLLECTION OF NEWSPAPER COMICS. This post will summarize the second half of that period and conclude this Smithsonian-based series.

    1934 saw the debut of three of the most successful strips in history: Al Capp’s L”il Abner, Alex Raymond’s Flash Gordon and Milton Caniff’s Terry and the Pirates.

    1935 is notable if for no other reason than the brief run (in the Hearst chain’s Sunday funnies section) of a comic fantasy strip titled Hejji by Dr. Seuss, Theodor Geisel. Seuss had previously done magazine cartoons and advertising drawings, and later, of course, became famous for his children’s books (Cat in the Hat, Horton Hears a Hoo, etc.).

    1936 marks the debut of The Phantom, the first newspaper strip to introduce a secret-identity,  masked crime-fighter to a wide audience; according to comic strip historian Maurice Horn, it’s “the granddaddy of all costumed superheroes” (Superman debuted in 1938 in Action Comics, Batman in 1939 in Detective Comics).

    In 1937, Al Capp started a second strip called Abbie ‘n’ Slats, and though it ran until 1971, it never attained the wide popularity of L’il Abner. To me, the year holds more trivia interest for a Jan. 17, 1937 comics page I own of THE SUNDAY OREGONIAN. On one side, beneath Dick Tracy and Winnie Winkle, is an advertisement strip for Super Suds titled DISHPAN HANDS HAUNTED HER in big red letters. Below the first panel, which depicts “Alice” wiping her brow over a dishpan full of dirty dishes, it states “IT WASN’T ONLY THAT DISHWASHING WAS TEDIOUS AND TIRESOME —  BUT EVEN BOB HAD NOTICED HOW RED AND ROUGH IT MADE ALICE’S HANDS. THEN…”  The next two panels have a woman telling Alice how she uses SUPER SUDS, and it saves hands, leaves no soap film and “washes so clean that you can just rinse and let dishes drain dry without wiping.” The next panel, “6 weeks later,” has Alice telling hubby Bob, “This big red box of SUPER SUDS costs only 10 cents, and look how much cleaner and brighter my dishes are!” To which Bob replies, “Since you’ve been using SUPER SUDS, your hands are as soft and white as the day we were married!” You gotta love it!

    For the next strip of more than passing interest, we skip to 1948 and Walt Kelly’s Pogo, which began as a minor character in Animal Classics in 1943 before moving to newspaper format in the New York Star. Quoting Smithsonian, “In Pogo, humanized animals daily dramatized the idiosyncrasies of their human counterparts. The political spoofs for which the strip probably became best known in the mid-1950s had actually been implicit somewhat earlier.”

    1950 drafted into service Beetle Bailey, the first of the strip successes of Mort Walker, and introduced Peanuts, the super-successful strip which creator Charles Schulz originally wanted to call L’il Folks. On a personal note, this is my oldest daughter’s favorite; she is a collector of all things Peanuts.

    The 1960s ushered in, among others, The Wizard of Id (1964), and Doonesbury in Yale publications in 1968-69 before moving into national newspaper syndication in late 1970.

    Enough!

     

     

     

     
    • arekhill1 2:23 pm on May 14, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      I go Pogo!

      Like

    • mistermuse 3:39 pm on May 14, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      I’d ask my daughter if she pees Peanuts, but I’m not going to go there.

      Like

    • Don Frankel 6:30 am on May 15, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      Two of my favorites were Dick Tracy and The Phantom. Both were made into movies that ironically left a lot to be desired. Maybe the comic strip was the better medium.

      Like

    • mistermuse 7:20 am on May 15, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      My favorite of the above strips was The Wizard of Id. I say “was” because it no longer appears in the local paper, though it’s still being published (to the best of my knowledge).

      Like

  • mistermuse 9:38 am on May 13, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , Hearst newspapers, , , Sunday funnies   

    A FUNNY THING HAPPENED…. (PART TWO) 

    Part One of this Smithsonian Collection-based series on newspaper comics noted that weekday comic strips began in Hearst newspapers in the early 1900s. These strips, however — unlike Sunday strips — were not in color, appeared irregularly (up to 2 or 3 days a week) and were aimed more at adult readers than at children. The nation’s first full daily comic page appeared in Hearst’s New York Evening Journal on Jan. 31, 1912.

    The Sunday comics in those days featured demon children, clownish buffoons or humanized animals. On the other hand, the order of the day in weekday strips after 1907, according to Smithsonian, was satire, cheerful cynicism and subdued slapstick, centered on helpless husbands, burlesque detectives and inept scoundrels.  Quoting from “The Real Mission of the Funny Paper” in Century Magazine, March 1924: “The funny paper has …. become not only a faithful reflection of the tastes and ethical principles of the country at large; it is also manifestly an extremely powerful organ of social satire.”

    The 1920s to mid 1930s saw a proliferation of new strips; a dozen or more syndicates were by then supplying an insatiable newspaper market, while the old and established strips retained their audiences. This was the period in which Sunday comic sections went from 4 to 8 to 16 to as many as 32 pages, and it brings us to the list of 1933 cartoon characters in my May 9th post FUNNY ON PAPER (PART THREE). This marked the last great period of full Sunday pages for each strip. By the 1940s, half pages or less for major strips became common, and “The galaxy of the comic strip never again was to glow so brightly as during these last marvelous years of its springtide.” Here’s the scoop on some of those strips:

    MUTT & JEFF  http://scoop.diamondgalleries.com/Home/4/1/73/1016?articleID=46633
    BARNEY GOOGLE  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=StkJTSAq0dE
    DICK TRACY  http://dicktracymuseum.com/chester-gould/timeline/
    GASOLINE ALLEY  http://www.tcj.com/growing-old-in-gasoline-alley-ninety-four-years-and-counting/
    POPEYE  http://popeye.com/history/

    TO BE CONCLUDED

     

     

     

     
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