Here are the next two weeks of “The Nebbishes” by Herb Gardner (called “Hy” or “H” by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch). Herb tends to go for big emotional displays followed by a sarcastic understatement that renders those displays moot. I love the Devil’s big show of confidence as he tries to barter for Seymour and Irving’s souls in the 1-18-59 strip and how Irving goes on a binge of artistic blather in the 1-25-59 as Seymour paints his house (”..creating truth, beauty and other nice things.”) There is a bit of parallel with Max Shulman’s writing on “Dobie Gillis” (just starting on TV in 1959), as Dobie often waxes poetic and seeks truth and beauty. Maybe Gardner and Shulman knew each other or drew from the same wellspring of comedy. I’ll look around for more of these old “Nebbishes”. When I was a kid I didn’t know from Jewish comedians or Yiddish expressions or anything of the kind, but somehow I really dug the comedy of Herb Gardner. The 1-18 page had to be pieced together for this blog, it’s pretty fragile, but well loved.
There are two “echo” gags and two gags using the word “solo” in the Krazy Kat week of 10-27 to 11-1-1941. I especially favor the 10-31 strip as Offissa Pupp and Ignatz Mice shake hands as they realize that their animosity is a main driver of the strip in which they live. This idea takes a little of the sting out of all the Jail time that the Mice has had to put up with “for a number of years”.
Felix, this time from 12-16 to 12-22-1935, has the Cat in hot pursuit of Fooy Tu Yu. Felix obviously disposed of all that water he swallowed in the previous week’s strips. Fooy Tu Yu is blackjacked by another Chinese who takes the diamond away and gives it to Okey Joe who hides it on a “junk”. See the next post for the conclusion of the 1935 dailies. The Sunday page continues the science fiction aspect of Felix as he experiments with a pair of glasses that enable him to see into the future.
In Myrtle this time from 7-21 to 7-26-1947, Fisher shows a mastery of comic strip timing. The strip for 7-22 has a terrific “all you can drink” lemonade gag that dispenses with Pop’s reaction to tasting Myrtle and Sampson’s citrus quencher and just skips to the last panel. Fisher also uses timing to advantage as Sampson goes to his mother’s house to wash his neck and just leaves Myrtle hanging on a tree. In the last panel we find that Sampson used a guest towel to wipe his neck and is banished to a corner. The 7-26 continues the idea that Bingo the dog is good at opening doors; this time he gets a lump on the head for opening the wrong one. We are now into the spate of Myrtle strips culled from Newspaper Archive.com so the quality is only fair.
The cartoon short that Greg Ford and I made called “There Must Be Some Other Cat” has been selected by a film festival to screen in September. I can’t say which one, but we are thrilled to be accepted.
I recently read “Al Capp, A Life the the Contrary” by Denis Kitchen and Michael Schumacher” a new biography of one of the USA’s greatest comic strip creators. Elsewhere in this blog, you can find a few “L’il Abner” strip continuities reprinted, including the infamous “Joanie Phonie” story. I’ve been a fan of Al Capp’s strip all my life, I loved reading the strip each night in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and when my father didn’t bring home the evening paper, it was hard to hide my disappointment. I always liked the little fantastic characters in the strip, the Schmoos, natcherly, and the Kigmys, the little flying hot-dog shaped creatures of the planet Pincus #7, the Adorable Snowman, the Bald Iggle, and many others. I got a kick out of Big Barnsmell, the head man at the Skonk Works, and of course, Moonbeam McSwine and the gorgeous Daisy Mae. It’s said that Al Capp really didn’t like any of his characters very much. It’s lucky for him that somehow they were sympathetic to his readers. I always felt sorry for the dumb but lovable L’il Abner, and worried about his cliffhanger predicaments enough to want to keep reading about him. In reading about Capp’s sexual misadventures in the 1960s on college campuses, including his mistreatment of Goldie Hawn, Mark Evanier (world’s champeen blogger) feels uncomfortable even reading old L’il Abner stories knowing that Al Capp could be a pervert. I can’t defend Capp, but I look at his creation as a satirical fantasy unlike any other comic strip and will always enjoy it. Al Capp’s depression era background and his loss of a leg as a boy certainly colored his world view and his strip. He lived life as if he always had something to prove, and he’d do it by hook or crook. (Wait until you read how he got through art school!) “Li’l Abner” was an unapologetic bold slash of a comic strip, blending fantasy with satire. The drawing was both serenely slapstick and delicately sensuous, drawn with beautiful pen lines. Mark Evanier even got to MEET Al Capp, something I would have loved to have done. This book is a very thorough biography, I learned a great deal from it. Some of the most interesting stuff is in the notes at the back of the book. I’ve always wondered from where Capp’s comic book company, “Toby Press” got it’s name. The notes informed me that “Toby” was the name of one of Elliot Caplin’s daughters. Elliot Caplin was one of Al Capp’s brothers and wrote many comic strips, including “The Heart of Juliet Jones” and “Long Sam”, both strips about beautiful women. Toby eventually took over the writing on “The Heart of Juliet Jones” after Elliot retired. Too bad they didn’t put the story of how Felix the Cat and Otto Messmer got picked up by Toby Press after their Dell Comics run. Again, this book is highly recommended, even though it may sour some fans on Al Capp, like it did for Mark Evanier. Now, won’t some brave soul step up and reprint the rest of “L’il Abner” through the final strip? I would love to read all the “conservative” strips that caused so many newspapers to drop Abner. Let’s get Roger Ailes to do something meaningful with his life and foot the bill for reprinting these strips!