Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Whenever I get hold of some old collection of long-forgotten, usually 20s/30s vintage comic strips, you can bet that I zone right back to my just-barely-into-the-double-digits-days when the funny pages really had an obsessive/compulsive grip on my overall behavior! And I mean as in permeate my every waking moment to the point where I would incessantly study an artist's style evolution in detail from its humble beginnings to its current manifestation noting the little nuances and changes in my ever-mushy mind. In fact I got so good at it that, just to have a li'l fun, I would cover up the copyrights that appear in the strips and try to guess which year they was drawn just by looking at the angle of Dick Tracy's nose or the jowliness of the characters in NANCY. Usually I would get within a few years of the exact date, trained eagle-eyed comic strip fan that I was and most truly will remain! But look at it all from a positive view...if I were only a diligent with my school studies as I was with my comics enthusiasm do you think you'd even be reading this blog today??? No way Charlie!

I gotta admit that the REG'LAR FELLERS strip never did light my fancy back when I was pouring through microfilm spools to read old variations of comics that were still being produced a good 45 years after first being created. If that strip had continued on perhaps I would've given a hoot, but when I was a good ten or so it just seemed like a quaint old comic that was even too dated for my already dated sense of comics appreciation. Strangely enough, all of these years later I find this sampling of 1927-vintage REG'LAR FELLERS (a 2000 reprinting of a late-twenties collection en toto including the original forward written by the gang themselves!) stands up not only to "the test of time", but to my own sense of non-elitist comic strip aesthetics. From the old-styled fine-pen drawings to the wonderful bad gags that I adore, REG'LAR FELLERS was a fine example of just where the comic strip idiom stood in the twenties during a time when the comics page was just beginning to head into its Golden Age. An era of greatness which wouldn't waver at least until the seventies when hippie ideals and snoozeville domestic comics began replacing the twenties/thirties-bred works of pure art with a generation gap PASSION.

Nice hominess to these REG'LAR FELLERS too, which like OUT OUR WAY and a slew of other obscure-os represents an old world and style that unfortunately died out long ago even if it did linger on at least until the last Old Timer finally packed it in at the rest home. (Well, at least I got in on the tail end of this era thanks to my relatives and for that I am forever grateful!) A beautiful encapsulation of the twenties through the eyes of kids such as Puddinhead (the fat 'un), Pinhead his little brother and Jimmy Dugan, the leader of the gang at a time when people were still saying that the Irish were put on this earth so that black people could have something to feel superior to (and I kid you not!). There's even a Jerry Mahoney in the batch making me wonder in Paul Winchell wasn't an upfront reader along with a few million other kids. Well, you can see the influence on him, especially given some of the outright clunkers he was known to toss at us o'er the years!

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