Thursday, September 08, 2016

BOOK REVIEW! OUR BOARDING HOUSE 1935 SUNDAYS, by Gene Ahern (Ecomic Space)

's not so funny, but I still get the same ol' time comic strip thrills reading MAJOR HOOPLE that I usedta get back when I was slipping into the double digits all agog o'er the funny pages and want ads where OUR BOARDING HOUSE was planted by that time in newspaper history. Maybe it's because comics like this really do dredge up the happier moments of my rather confused growing up days, a time when getting the newspaper, turning to the funnies and plopping myself down on the parlor floor was just one of the fun things for an oft pushed around type like myself to look forward to along with fave tee-vee shows and evening snacks.

Gene Ahern is one of the truly forgotten greats of the comics page. Now I'm sure that a lotta modern day cool cats would undoubtedly turned up their booger-riddled nostrils at the outdated style and cornball gags that could sometimes be found therin, but OUR BOARDING HOUSE was definitely one of the highlights of the comics page of the twenties onward. It always had an especially off-the-way screwball sense to it equaling that of such famed screwballers as SMOKEY STOVER and SALESMAN SAM that was even more evident when Ahern was drawing his creation before being lured away by King Features Syndicate to do ROOM AND BOARD. These Sunday comics from 1935 really show just how nutzo Ahern could get when he had a chance to y'know, go and stretch out a li'l.

The artwork is (of course) fantastic in that old fine-point pen style that went out of favor a loooooong time ago, and ya just gotta marvel at the amount of detail and craftsmanship that went into a single panel making these comics a true work of art only one aimed at us lumpen proles 'stead of the beret and stale doritos crowd. Compare these to the current batch of comics which look even more primitive as the years go by (even the old standbys like MARK TRAIL and DENNIS THE MENACE which used to feature some mighty slick artwork but now seem dashed off) and you kinda get the impression that Ahern really put a good number of hours into his efforts with a clarity and style that seemed to vanish once the new enlightened generation got into power and decided to get rid of the past few millenniums of civilization THEIR way.

Stories are pretty hotcha as well, usually focusing on Hoople's various past exploits as an officer in the Boer War or elsewhere for that matter which always seemed strange even to his gullible nephew Alvin. But eh, it's fun to read these comics where Hoople fantasizes about his mighty prowess or gets so wrapped up in a horror story he gets the scares himself or is goaded into proving himself and fails miserably because hey, it's done up in that great old style that may not mean a thing to you, but certainly resonates with a perennial suburban slob mid-twentieth century fun and jamzster such as I!

The "Nut Brothers" and "Mr. Blotto" toppers are complimentary to OUR BOARDING HOUSE's extended romps into hokey if brilliant fantasy, what with the bros tossing badgags back at each other and Blotto always mistaking cigar store indians for the real thing. Actually I prefer the Major Hoople "Jobs I'd Like to Have" panel over Blotto where Hoople gives out a variety of careers he'd most certainly want to hold such as captain of the Swiss Navy, launderer at a nudist colony etc. but I believe that gag ran out a year earlier.

Before you read the new stuff read the old. Sometimes I get the feeling you'll never want to go back to the modern day again but knowing some of you haters of the past I really do doubt it!

No comments: