Thursday, February 27, 2020


I'm really game for a good book on comic strips, and for some strange reason (maybe the fact that by the time this came out I couldn't have cared less, that being during some comic lull in my life) I missed out on this particular historically-based effort. However given how I'm more'n anxious to tear into some old BEETLE BAILEY paperback these days I thought this reminiscence by BEETLE creator Mort Walker would be the perfect way to spend a few evenings. Maybe I got it because I miss that particular post-war style of cartooning that Walker's strips exuded, and maybe it's because I'd like to know more about comic strips and the genius behind comicdom in general which is a subject that I really haven't touched upon throughout my comic strip reading existence. Frankly, I got this because I was bored....sheesh, what else???

But BACKSTAGE AT THE STRIPS really ain't the comic history and behind the scene look that I woulda loved to've spent a few cold winter nights pouring through. First off, the writing...Walker might have been, at least at his fifties-until-early-eighties peak, a really good gag craftster along with his stable who, with Walker, cranked out a variety of strips o'er the years (although I find HI AND LOIS rather middling and the less said about BONER'S ARK, HAGAR THE HORRIBLE and SAM'S STRIP the less said), but his yapping on about the comic strip high life and the behind-the-scenes minglings with the other comic strip artist stars really doesn't stimulate any part of what's left of my grey matter. Hodge-podge-y perhaps and most if not all of us comic strip hounds already know the rest. The end results can get kinda text book-y and we've had more than a few clinical comic strip histories already tossed our way so why bother with another?

Second off, the cartoons. Yeah, that's the REAL reason people like me would pick up a book such as this so's there's something to LOOK at in case the text flubs about. Good idea, though why are a buncha the reprints either taken from earlier Walker collections complete with the expected loss in detail, or just plain too faint to make out without making your eyeballs do the ol' psychedelic swirl? But for the most part its them funnies that keep me goin' back to books like these. Yeah, I gotta say that I am kinda irked about all this, especially since there are many of the fifties BAILEY strips that have never been repro'd and I'd sure like to read some ALL of 'em, especially those which had various docked characters like Ozone and a variety of proto-Miss Buxleys who have been shuttered aside because they don't quite fit in with the BAILEY official canon. Feh!

Now don't get me wrong (like you usually do), there are some good bits 'n feces to contend with here which might just get your interest in comicdom rekindled. Those uncensored rough sketches which popped up in various other BAILEY books are always a hoot, and although some of 'em were actually fleshed out into real deal strips once things loosened up a bit its sure great seein' 'em all in their unvarnished, dirty form. So despite the overall dullness this book might be a good rummage sale read if you can find it cheap enough. Trample over alla the old ladies looking at garish table lamps and latch onto your own copy of BACKSTAGE AT THE COMICS the next time your loco church is out there tryin' to raise some moolah!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

lol boner's ark lol