Wednesday, November 30, 2016

BOOK REVIEW! ELLA CINDERS COMIC STRIPS COLLECTION (B&W) 1925, 1926, 1927 and ELLA CINDERS SUNDAY COMIC STRIPS COLLECTION 1937, 1938, 1939, 1943 by Bill Counselman and Charlie Plumb (available via GOLDEN AGE REPRINTS)

I'll bet yer just sick of reading these writeups of comics that were done up by a whole load of craftsmen who are so daft that they don't even mention rectal itching and menopause in their obviously non-relevant reads now, aren't you! Well tough turds tootsie, because I've got a load of these boff comic collections to tell the world about, and if it ain't gonna be me spillin' the beans about some great and long-gone strip that seemed to be created for us more...shall I say...less kultured readers then it's gonna be Bill Shute gabbing on about some comic book find he picked up in some Salvation Army while waiting for them to pass the doughnuts out. And as Big Vito once said, you better like it!

Y'know, I'd rather snuggle up with a good collection of comic strips, a bottle of Diet Dr. Pepper (or Moxie if available) and some early-seventies post-Velvet Underground drone on the boom box than I would with just about anything else. And frankly these recent ELLA CINDERS collections have really filled a gap in my oft-suburban slobbian deprived life. As far as long-forgotten mid-twentieth century comic strips go ELLA had a whole lot going for it from gripping scripts, badskis who were cruel enough for you to downright loathe, really good artwork and a general care and detail to it that I haven't seen in a comic strip in years. I mean, I coulda see just about anyone throughout the twenties and thirties, young or old, rich or poor down the ol' line tuning in to the funny pages to see just what was going to happen to Ella just like they did with the adventures of Andy Gump or Dick Tracy back in those particularly mass media starved times. Yeah there wasn't as much frivolity to take up your precious time back then, but in many ways those depression-era kiddies had a lot more goin' for 'em with the likes of Ella to follow, and I do mean that in the most sincere way possible!

The collection of daily strips covers CINDERS' early years setting the pace for what was to be during the years when it continued on as a fairly entertaining if not quite upper echelon comic. We are not only introduced to the title character (who looks more like Ann Frank here rather'n a miss old enough to get married!) but her typically incorrigible younger brother Blackie, not to mention her downright evil stepmother and stepsisters who make the characters in Cinderella (in case you haven't gotten the pun yet) look rawther chahming (and I mean it the way the Mother actually steals Ella's savings and gives it to her spawn to squander---that's not forgetting the money owed to Ella by friends which she casually claims as "rent" or payment for a broken dish!). Ella's father makes a brief appearance in the story as the head of a failing moom pitcher studio but even he chickens out and skedaddles to China when things get tough leaving Ella and Blackie in the lurch. And then there's Ella's other bigtime nemesis O. Watters Neek, the studio publicity man  who not only looks like John Waters but equals the stepfamily in treachery to the point where at one point he even kidnaps Ella and Blackie. Neek obviously gets away with this capitol offense because he continues to pop up in and outta the storyline when frankly he shoulda been hanged, but if Steve Rogers could only get KP for desertion during his World War II Captain America days 'stead of the firing squad maybe Neek could get away with a few things that woulda earned him a lynching back in those justice-minded times!

It's a good collection and all but Golden Age Reprints time please print the stories in chronological order because these can be hard to follow when one storyline is presented on the left page and another on the right. Also it might be smart to get a better source for strips other than off the internet...those digital dots can be really hard on the eyes y'know.

The Sunday book is pretty hot even if some of the strips used might not have passed muster had Fantagraphics been involved in this effort. Still these color comics (which are not part of the weekday continuity) are good gaggers perhaps one or two steps about a classic Bushmiller-era NANCY. Many of these tend to involve Blackie getting into various kid mischief adventures like inventing skis made of ice which happen to melt off halfway down the slope, but Ella can be found within plenty of the badgags as well. Personal favorite of mine is the one where she gets arrested on some beach for wearing an immodest bathing suit, a subject matter that I wish would have also been explored in such strips as DIXIE DUGAN!

Of course I gotta say that I really like these funnies since by that time (mid-thirties) artist Charlie Plumb gave Ella that delicate and slightly curvy figure that I like in a female. However I must say that I don't particularly like the later strips because not only is Ella's cute bobbed hair done for (at first replaced by some slightly sexy curves before going the curly forties route) but the lass eventually gets a more buxom build which certainly doesn't do her any good! I like 'em kinda thin and slightly curved with a cute girlish face (sorta like the Japanese image of womanly wowzers, only without the sick stuff I've heard about) so I guess that there was a certain point where the strip just might have lost my interest had I been pouring the papers back then. Oh well, it certainly wasn't as bad as when BEETLE BAILEY cowtowed to feminist temper tantrums (and by that phrase you can tell I REALLY LIKE TO MILK A SUBJECT THAT STICKS IN MY CRAW FOR ALL IT'S WORTH!!!!) and I had about as much fun reading these as I woulda age ten laying smack dab inna middle of the parlor floor with the entire fambly traipsing all over me. And maybe that is saying something that should be said a whole lot more often these days!

1 comment:

Bill S. said...

I WISH they gave out donuts at my Salvation Army! It's all healthy food, doncha know!
I will have to read some Ella Cinders. I have of course heard a lot about it, as it was a major comic in its day, but all I really know about it is the silent film adaptation, which I bought only because Harry Langdon had a guest role in it. Remember "Foothill Video--Your Public Domain Video Specialists"? They had it on VHS. Maybe Grapevine has it on DVD. Not sure how accurate a depiction of the comic the film was, though...