Thursday, November 02, 2017


Another childhood longing fulfilled. I originally saw this particular comic pictured in the Coulton Waugh comic strip history collection at age nine, and for the life of me I sure wanted to get a copy! I for one sure would have loved to have read all of those fantastic olde tymey strips that, even thirtysome years after their original appearences, lent meaning to my life a whole lot more than late-sixties culture ever did. With all of the strips featured on the cover (let alone the neat illustration with Dick Tracy himself smiling on as Moon Mullins gets whopped with a snowball by Kayo) something like POPULAR COMICS really woulda fit in swell with my suburban slob attitude towards old comic strips, which along with old moom pitchers and old tee-vee shows, made up the reason for me even sticking around through all of the drudgery of life I hadda endure!

Thanks to the Dell line of comics falling into the public domain (and thanks to scavengers like GOLDEN AGE REPRINTS who know how to make a buck on items they don't even have to pay the rights for) the very issue of POPULAR COMICS that I saw way back when is once again available and boy am I happier than Charles Laughton after eating a package of Feen-A-Mint! Sure it ain't quite the same as triumphing over past losses such as not being able to win a patch for swimming across the Olympic sized pool or getting that gold star for learning your times tables, but in this day and age do those little things really matter? I mean, you can have your patch or your gold star to look at if you managed to save them throughout all these years, but as we all know a comic book is a comic book and you can sure have a lot more fun with one of those than you can starin' at some old prize!

Mostly Chicago Trib. syndicate stuff here with a few strays like King Features' BELIEVE IT OR NOT and SKIPPY, this particular debut makes for a pretty good read especially when you consider just how hot a syndicate the Trib was back inna thirties what with DICK TRACY and GASOLINE ALLEY cluttering up their roster. A few blank pages here and there coupled with the lack of HAROLD TEEN comics make me wonder if in fact the statues of limitations haven't run out on that particular strip...sure hope they haven't since TEEN was a pretty hot pre-ARCHIE teen comic, not as hot as FRECKLES true, but still one worthy of your attention even if Carl Ed wasn't as good drawing the female form as either Merle Blosser or Bob Montana.

The inclusion of continuing adventure strips might have been a good come-on but sheesh, printing a few TRACY or TERRY AND THE PIRATES Sundays no matter how good they look just don't cut it unless you also have the weekday strips to provide a less jagged continuity! Well, I supposed that maybe we should be lucky these strips were presented in proper chronological order because I remember reading that comic book creator Max Gaines (father of MAD's Bill) hadda be talked into printing these strips in their proper sequence he just wanting to splatter 'em any way whichever thinkin' the kids were either too stupid to notice or for that matter didn't care!

But hey, it's really the funny stuff I'm interested in here, and from long-loved faves like SKIPPY, THE GUMPS, MUTT AND JEFF (pre DC/Harvey) and TOONERVILLE FOLKS I can read and re-read the gags while staring at the amazing artwork for quite some time as Amon Duul drone on! Also present are very early examples of one of my all-time faves, SMOKEY STOVER (then just goin' under the nom de SMOKEY) the way it was originally done before Bill Holman began putting in all those funny catch-phrases and gags in the frames. A comic book like this also gives you the opportunity to gander at some of those long-forgotten offerings that might have made somewhat of a splash in the past but are totally forgotten now. Some of  'em look good enough but I can see just why they didn't stand that ol' test of time either being knockoffs of already successful comics or just plain "eh" next to what some of the big names in stripdom were up to at the time!

But for all of the "eh!" comics there were some rather interesting ones that petered out a whole lot sooner'n I'm sure any of us true blue funny page guys would have wished. And I dunno about you, but I think I'm gonna go read some BEN WEBSTER'S PAGEs and get a good hunk of thirties comic kultur inside me, which I know in my own suburban slob way would not only benefit me but mankind in general. Now some of you may think you're benefiting this world of ours by acting like a screeching banshee yammering about injustices this and racism that, but I say if we gave all of the leaders of the world a copy of POPULAR COMICS #1 and had 'em snuggle down with it, some Cheetos and cold root beer in the sanctity of their own fart-encrusted bedrooms the world just might become a much better place over night! Yeah, most likely not, but it sure seems a better scenario than it was when someone had the idea of getting LBJ and Brezhnev together with a copy of SGT. PEPPER in the hopes of world peace!

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