Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Li'l Friz

Tuesday Comic Strip Day.

A couple of years ago Dark Horse published a full color version of all the Li'l Abner Sunday pages that were (at least partially) pencilled by Frank Frazetta between 1955 and 1962 for the Al Capp studios. They are wonderfuly annotated by Denis Kitchen and I recommend them highly, but unfortunately, they had to use printed samples and as you can see here the quality of the samples wasn't always as good from week to week. That is the hard aprt about reprint books these days. To find the best possibly copies sometimes can take years> Fantagraphics had to postpone their Pogo reprint series several times (they are up to book three now) and I could suggest many book projects, but do not have the complete runs necessary for them. That makes the excellent work Dean Mulhanny is doing at IDW all the more exceptional. All their books are beautifully restored and they combine the best of the old material and the new computer techniques.

Fortunately, for online publication the standards are a bot lower. Here are a couple of Frazetta's later pages. Some in better condition than the ones in the Dark Horse book, others about the same.

Monday, September 22, 2014

LOL-IN

Monday Cartoon Day.

In the late sixties, Laugh-In wasn't only a fastpaced gagbased sketch program, but also a Sunday only gagbased newspaper strip by Roy Doty. Doty was a poppular cartoonist in his day. So popular in fact, that he pretty soon became old hat and a representatvive of his age. And since his age ran into the seveties, Laugh-In as about the best example of his talents you can find.

Shine On

Sunday Meskin Measures.

Last time we looked, Mort Meskin did a smoke monster. One issue before that (because I am going through my collection backwards) he did diamonds. A short story from House of Mystery #87.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Hullabalabba Doo

Saturday Leftover Day.

I haven't shown a lot of the Bear lately. But it still is a favorite of many. These two show the change in style over the sixties.

Crime Fix

Friday Comic Book Day.

Early Fifties Tuska, always a good read.


Friday, September 19, 2014

Egyptian Mysticism

Thursday Story Strip Day.

While I was scanning a Vesta West (shown some time ago), I came across this oddity on the back of some of the strips. It is from the Chicago Tribune syndicate and indeed it is in what I would call the 'Chicago Style', a stilted and old fashioned form of stylized realism that you can find in strips like Dick Tracy, Little Orphan Annie and Smilin' Jack.

This strip is not the best exemple in this school. Don Markstein says it all on his Toonopedia site:
"The name Patterson was connected with some of the true classics of comics — classics like Dick Tracy, Gasoline Alley, Little Orphan Annie, and you don't get much classier than that. Joseph Medill Patterson of The Chicago Tribune Syndicate was also connected with lesser classics like Winnie Winkle and Moon Mullins; and with little-remembered but high-quality comics like White Boy.

But the name is also connected with one of comics' most notorious flops. Patterson's daughter, Alicia Patterson Guggenheim, was more directly connected with the ill-fated venture, but the Patterson connection was still there. Among other things, Captain Joe's record for commissioning and nurturing great comics was cited in selling it. This one came about when his syndicate was unable to distribute strips to his daughter's Long Island paper, Newsday, because New York City papers had the territorial rights, so she decided to make her own.

But despite her literary ambitions, evident in the strip's early days, Guggenheim didn't turn out to have his creative genius when it came to comics. Deer, who started out as a haughty and tyrannical princess in ancient Egypt, got to be deathless within four days of the strip's November 9, 1942 beginning. Her people, fed up with her high and mighty ways and unimpressed with her great beauty, assassinated her. But she was saved by a fellow member of the power structure, a priest who slipped her an immortality potion just in time.

It didn't keep her from getting buried, but when scholars unsealed her sarcophagus, she woke up. Something similar had just happened to Ibis the Invincible, a bit declassé compared with literary influences Guggenheim actually claimed, such as George Bernard Shaw, H. Rider Haggard and Sleeping Beauty, but there's no proof of a direct connection. Waking with her was her pet falcon, Horus, who evidently got a dose of the immortality stuff as well. Shorn of power and with a devastating lesson in human relations having been administered, she was a little less insufferable but still strong-willed enough to adapt to her new surroundings, New York City of the early 1940s.

The strip was illustrated by Neysa McMein, a popular commercial artist at the time who had painted covers for McCall's magazine, The Saturday Evening Post and many other well-known venues. Deathless Deer was the only comic she ever did, before or since. She proved to be unsuited to deadline-oriented comics work, and her talents didn't seem to include telling stories.

But there didn't seem to be much story to tell. Deer got mixed up in intrigues that took her all over the world, involving treasure hunts and criminal gangs and whatnot, but when they petered out, the writer didn't seem very good at getting her into fresh scrapes — and what's more, nothing was ever made of the Egyptian connection. Patterson could see it was faltering, and assigned Zack Mosley, the successful cartoonist behind Smilin' Jack, to help out. His influence shows, but was insufficient to rescue the strip. Time magazine said Deathless Deer had "some of the dullest adventures ever seen in a comic strip", and added that it was "perhaps the most ineptly drawn of all comic strips".

Dorothy Parker, the contemporary literateur who was famous for her love of comics, especially Barnaby, admitted (in an essay in which she compared liking comics to cocaine addiction) to being such an inveterate comics reader, she was "the one who strung along with Deathless Deer until her mercy killing".

That killing came less than a year after the beginning. Supposedly, the end came with the August 7, 1943 episode, but Newsday itself, citing wartime paper shortages, dropped it as of July 19. It may have continued to the end in some papers, but the actual end of the strip hasn't been spotted. In the last episode known to have been published, Deer stood accused of murder. Nobody seems to have been greatly troubled by not seeing how it turned out.

On the strength of Patterson's record, and of advance publicity that touted this as his first major launch since Terry & the Pirates in 1934, over 200 papers initially signed up for Deathless Deer. By the time of its demise, only 17 remained."

Now you can see for yourself. I also see I saved an uncleaned copy (since I have to make the size of my scans smaller for this blog, I clean them up as well, while keeping the uncleaned larger scan in my files).

Smoking

Wednesday Advertising Day.

In 1958 Alex Kotzky did a wonderful ad series for Philip Morris in the style of Milton Caniff's Steve Canyon (which he had been known to ghost). I keep running into samples, but the thing with these ad strip s is that they were cut every which way. I still don't have a complete series in the best format, so this is just to whet your apatite (again).

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Eyepoppin'

 Tuesday Comic Strip Day.

Some time ago, I did a series of pre-Popeye Thimble Theatre Sundays by Elzie Segar. The characters and the storytelling are just as good as in the later Popeye ones (and even some of the character). Helas not many of these have been collected. Comic Journal did a run of 1928 dailies, but here are the Sundays from that same year (or what I have of them). The story itself seems to have run into 1929, but as they say: it's not the destination, it's how you get there. With that you get all the lovely Sappo gags, that Segar drew as a topper for this strip (and Popeye).