Wednesday, October 19, 2016

BOOK REVIEW! OUT OUR WAY 1923 DAILIES by J. R. Williams (Ecomics Space, 2016)

For the first full year of this usedta-be-infamous comic the details are beginning to come through. The rotundus Elf Dakin and Wash Funk are still to be seen, while the roots of the long-running Western stories (that would have classified OUT OUR WAY as the first western comic had these guys appeared every day) are just beginning to pop up. None of the familiar stars of this particular OUT OUR WAY subtext like Curly or Wes have yet to show up, though a guy who kinda resembles Cotton does in the one about a greased pig contest. Still Williams is improving on his art which is beginning to look more like the OUT OUR WAY I remember seeing when a youth which might figure since I think a buncha the ones that were appearing by the time I hit the comics scene were actually old Williams-era comics re-fitted for modern newspaper space consumption. I guess Williams' associate (and Sunday page artist) Neg Cochran was overloaded with other work for the NEA syndicate...who knows?

One running gag that really got my mind jumping was the one with the railroad crossing guard. You remember, those guys who used to come out and hold up a stop sign when the train would go by back in those pre-blinking light days. These guys used to stay in these little shanties and just sat around until the trains came and stood proudly with their long signs holding a whole lotta power over us pedestrians who hadda use the sidewalks! And yeah, one thing I really wanted to be back when I was a mere turdler was a railroad crossing guard...after all they gotta see alla the trains and hold up a sign and have control over a whole flock of people---talk about power! Well, in these comics it seems like the train engineer and his workers are always trying to think up some way to snatch the extremely small (telephone booth dimensions) shanty away from the guard and deposit it somewhere down the track---either that or pull some other rather cruel gag on this old kinda guy who ya'd think never did any harm to anyone and is always getting the rough end of the joke schtick. I'll tell ya, if you ever worked a menial blue collar job and stayed in a shanty and hadda take the usual numero dos from the workers and bosses (like Bill and I and maybe even you have at one point in time) then you'll really appreciate these particular panels I'll tell ya!

Loads of great comics here about a time that's long gone and (even if it shows a rare, soft side to my crusty exterior) I gotta admit that I really do feel kinda sad 'bout these being a relic of DEAD Ameriga 'n all. After all, a time and place where nobody got all offended about the slightest indignation and kids were allowed to be stoopid kids and guys hadda work hard for a pittance yet were able to get by fairly well ain't really that bad. And yeah we now have miracle medical treatments, deodorants and instant entertainment at our fingertips, but I kinda go for a world where there was a stability to life where reading the funnies was a highlight of the day you could look forward to just like I did along with looking forward to my favorite television programs and enjoying my model car collection. After reading OUT OUR WAY and seeing what postpostPOSTmodern life entails these sorry days all I gotta say is...where did we go wrong?????

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