Thursday, September 27, 2012


Coming out just in time for the great early-seventies nostalgia boom, GREAT COMICS sure seemed custom-made for your ever-aging Uncle Eb 'n Aunt Selma types out there. Remember back during them years of protest 'n riots when the pair were doin' the Silent Majority shuffle just like alla the rest of those fifty-plussers who used to sneer atcha worse'n Al Capp? Well, who could deny that during those sorry times the more mature members of our society certainly needed a sane return to them good ol' days when not only life but entertainment seemed to have that boffo bang that was relegated to the late show or that stack of old newspapers in the attic. And no bout a doubt it, this is the book ya coulda gotten 'em for Christmas because not only would they have appreciated the funtime lookback at a whole load of gone but not forgotten favorites, but you know they'd never buy a book like this is a millyun years because they were always so busy raising kids and planting gardens and working, and who had any money to spend on frivolities like they do today?

Of course who'd know what pair'd think when they open the book 'n strain eyes to the bad reproduction, panels squooshed down so's they could fit six dailies to a page and other abominations that really stick out worse'n those skin tags around my eyes! Gents, you coulda done us all a whole world of a lot better if you put some effort into it and didn't do such a crapezoid job tryin' to rush this book out to Mr. and Mrs. Front Porch, but then again in any form (or any quality) this book was just what the doc ordered for the older generation flippin' a few fingers back at their comparatively pampered youth scion!

This is the kinda item that was also aimed at kiddoes like us who used to love reading our folk's latest issue of THE GOOD OLD DAYS for the full-page Sunday strip repros. Or the ones who used to go to the library to read the funnies via the old microfilms while telling the librarian that they were doing a history report. The Daily News/Chicago Tribune syndicate might not have been as big time as United Features or King Features, nor were they as fertile as NEA Services, but they sure came up with their share of legendary strips that stood the test of time at least as long as their creators were still at the helm...strips like DICK TRACY and TERRY AND THE PIRATES amongst 'em. 'n yeah those names may not mean too much these days (the former a mere shadow of its forties self and the latter a sore thumb by the time the early-seventies liberals pretty much shamed all of the old conservative-type strips off the funny pages) but back when you only hadda few pennies to scrape together and your daily thrill was the comic page, was it like you had any other option?

So, amidst the lousy repro job and slapdash effect what do """""I""""" think? Off the bat it's OBVIOUS that LITTLE ORPHAN ANNIE and BRENDA STARR are "for girls"...can't see any red blooded boy with boogers in his nose and skidmarks on his undies readin' sop such as this, though the artwork on ANNIE is creepy enough to enjoy at a few glances. SMITTY's OK as a twenties kid strip, though I'd hate to see what it ended up looking like after artist Walter Berndt aged him and eventually had him married off. MOON MULLINS was a fantastically high-larious strip in the twenties unlike the worn down take I remember glancing at years later, while HAROLD TEEN was "Ameriga's Typical Teenager" before Carl Ed went and aged him thus making it possible for Archie to cop the title. And although GASOLINE ALLEY is still up and running I kinda wonder why the plug wasn't pulled at least by 1960 considering how its best days from those special Sunday pages on down had been long gone by that time.

At risk of re-re-repeating myself we all know my opinions regarding such longtime BLOG TO COMM faves like DICK TRACY and SMOKEY STOVER, while I gotta admit that I'll always look at Milton Caniff's art even if I found his various adventure strips (such as the TERRY AND THE PIRATES reprinted here) not quite the kinda continuity strip that really holds me. The rest ranges from rather eyeball-inducing (TEXAS SLIM, TINY TIM, SWEENEY AND SON,  WINNIE WINKLE) to stodgy people stuff (THE NEIGHBORS) to things you remember fondly when you were a kid but look so puerile nowadays (TEENIE WEENIES). As for THE GUMPS  well, the original strip in the twenties had the perfect balance of humor and soap opera continuity, but it's easy to see by the fifties that it turned into one of those tired comics that quickly lost a whole lot of its vim and vigor once a new artist took over. And this new artist was Gus Edson who had just gotten off a job drawing Green Lantern and JSA stories for DC and who would eventually end up inking DONDI in the funny pages and... Well, I made enough of those references last post to dare milk 'em all again so let me refrain!

You may be irked, offended and turned off by the slapdashness but you just might squeeze some worth outta it. Everybody else might as well just head down to the library to peruse the old microfilms, and whatever you do, never ask the librarian (if a female) where the "C" section is!!!

No comments: