Thursday, March 23, 2017


Given all of the changes that the FRECKLES comic strip went through from its 1915 inception as a funny kid strip to its early seventies teenage hijinx demise, it's sure fun reading a good sampling of 'em scattered throughout the years and watching the comings and goings pass right before your eyes faster than GASOLINE VALLEY! These 1937 Sunday funnies are a fantab example where FRECKLES was at this particular point in comic strip history, and if you're just as ANAL RETENTIVE about your comics entomology as I am this book will help relax them ol' bowels meaning...IT'S BEST TO READ THIS ONE ONNA TOILET AND I'M NOT KIDDING!!!

As far as I remember the daily strips at this time were more of an adventurous and semi-serious continuing saga demeanor far from the neo-ARCHIE joke-a-day ones FRECKLES eventually became. In contrast, these particular Sunday comics are strictly gag-ridden, showing a lighter side to the strip that I don't believe was exactly being touted in the dailies at the time!

Oddly enough Freckles himself is rarely if ever in these perhaps because he's too busy getting into those serious scrapes during the rest of the week, so in these Sunday installments the action's mostly focused on either his kid brother "Tag" (who seemed to have gone AWOL from the strip by the late-sixties) or Tag's friend "Ossie", a strange looking kid who has this large round nose which makes him look rather Koala-esque. Not that some aspects of the teenage comedy-era FRECKLES don't pop up since I actually espied an early appearance of the proto-Dilton Doileyesque Nutty in one of 'em which happens to boast an appearance by the title character himself, but otherwise it's Ossie and Tag alla way!

The jokes are kid-oriented and rather well done at that, usually ending with a surprise punchline that even an old fan such as I could be surprised at. And like that and many other classic 20th Century pre-"relevance" offerings the "groaners" that are often used are sure used to their fullest potential (wordplay confusions, bizarre site gags) making this kinda humor rather unique especially in these days of NOTHING being funny unless you love hearing people rant and rave at you.  IN OTHER WORDS, after a hard day of real-life struggles and having your senses assaulted by evil forces beyond your control, these strips really go down nice and smooth like they did on mid-aged office workers a good eighty years back!

Along with OUT OUR WAY (yet another entry from the once-boffo NEA Services syndicate) FRECKLES will be getting a nice little scrutiny in these pages more later than sooner I would surmise. Whatever, watch out.


rnigma said...

NEA had many small-town dailies in its client list, and many of their old strips lingered into the '70s and even '80s... I recall the public library in one town I lived in used the library-loving Hollyhock character from "Priscilla's Pop" in its ads and signs. That town's daily paper, in addition to its NEA strips, had a few aging Trib strips such as "Moon Mullins."
Another small daily I had read (6-day-a-week schedule) full of old NEA strips ran the last "Our Boarding House" in, I think, 1984, where Major Hoople finally succeeded in one of his schemes.

Christopher Stigliano said...

Our local paper carried many NEA Services strips from the thirties until the eighties...although MAJOR HOOPLE and OUT OUR WAY were axed in the early seventies (and FRECKLES in 1963)PRISCILLA'S POP continued until its 1983 demise although ALLEY OOP was termed a few yeas later, the powers that be explaining that it was time for that 'un to go considering that the only ones who still read it were old codgers. Although this area is highly rural/suburban filled with just the kind of people who enjoyed the NEA line of comic strips for years, the paper unfortunately has become highly urban and snootish which is refected not only on the comic page but the rest of the fishwrap