Thursday, November 24, 2016

BOOK REVIEW! OUT OUR WAY 1929 SUNDAYS by J.R. Williams (Ecomics Space, 2016)

While OUR OUR WAY ran as a panel comic with a variety of recurring characters and settings throughout its fiftysome-year lifespan, the Sunday version featured the tales of the Willet family, a foursome who appeared sporadically (and most of the times looking totally different) in the dailies. A nice bunch of folk they were too, what with the father being one of those flustered and perhaps confused sorta guys that you used to see a whole lot of back when white males weren't the bane of postpostPOSTmodern living, while the mother sure seemed like a loving if at times stern type I think went outta vogue around the time people started reading Dr. Spock books. Lil the older cyster was, like many a senior sibling, a crabberoo par excellence and the young brother a practical joking troublemaker who never did seem to learn. Yeah, this line up seems to be the basis for way too many a fambly sitchy-ashion comedy seen on mooms, tee-vee and the printed page for years, but at least Williams (or in this case his Sunday ghoster, probably Neg Cochran) was doing this in the twenties and like, general civilization and culture and alla those things weren't screwed up back then the way they are now!

I can barely remember the Willets from the days when I was knee high to an amputee, but some early-sixties examples I copped at an antiques shop about twenny years back reminded me as to how I loved the unique artwork and the even dated by sixties standards feeling which, like I've said many-a-time, reflected a world that was still up and running in small towns where blue collar people struggled and people did seem a whole lot friendlier and closer than they've been for years, at least around here. The Willets were people you could love like you did your aunts and uncles, for these strips reflected a whole load of conflicts, true-to-life gags and the same type of people who were very similar to those you knew and miss like anything! If you're a pampered upper-middle-class snob protest pansy women's lipper type who loathes the same people you're supposed to "uplift" you wouldn't understand, but what about a suburban slob outta-the-loop nerve-riddled guy like me??? To me the Willets are people I'd like to get to know even if I get the idea that young Willis would be giving me a hotfoot about five panels into one of these full-page Sunday episodes of yore!

One unique thing about these comics is that the then-familiar "topper" strip was not drawn by Williams or Cochran but a totally different guy, in this case the infamous Roy Craine of CAPTAIN EASY and BUZZ SAWYER fame. This topper is none other'n WASH TUBBS, he who eventually teamed up with the gruff and adventurous Captain Easy for an adventure strip that I'm sure comic strip aficionados are still talking about even this late in the funny pages game. Tubbs is a small guy who reminds me of a prepubescent boy doing a Harold Lloyd routine, and these three or four-panel efforts usually feature those same old badgags done up with such great art (and many time the gratuitous yet welcome good looking gals) that you don't mind the groaners at all. And for a guy who loves old time badgags let's just say that WASH TUBBS ain't washed up!

But man the Willets. Great eye gags and mistaken identity hoo-hahs and all those other comedy templates done up really good which reflect  MY suburban ranch house upbringing of which I am proud of and will never eschew like too many of my compadres have. And really, what everyday sorta guy wouldn't empathize with the father who seems befuddled by life in general or the mother who seems harried beyond belief or even the siblings always at each other's gullets. I'll tell ya, it's more REAL LIFE'n the offal being passed off as "normal" and "natural" these days which is so pre-verted it makes Sodom look like a Branson Missouri sideshow.

There's more coming, and after that I gotta look for those old clippings I bought way back when if only for a good early-sixties resensifying, ya little snip you!

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