Thursday, July 31, 2014

Comics: No American Home Complete Without Them

That is the name of this chapter of Comic Art in America, the 1959 book by Stephen Becker I've been reprinting the comics from every Thursday.

The captions underneath all these strips read:

Joe Jinks, when VIC FORSYTHE had taken over the strip. Cars and boxing were Joe's first loves; then came fishing.
Joe Palooka, with virtue, as always, triumphant.
“True Love”: Joe Palooka and Ann Howe in a tender postwar scene. They were married later.
One of America's most famous couples before their marriage—Blondie and Dagwood, here shown with Bumstead père.
The Bumsteads five years later.CHIC YOUNG's expose of the American husband.
A daily Blondie of 1957. Dagwood and Dithers, though usually at war, are obviously bound by a strong personal tie.
Here are a few samples of Li'l Abner. The book doesn't get into it, but also in the media at one time is the feud Capp had with Ham Fisher, creator of the Joe Palooka strip seen above. Fisher was an assistant who became disgruntled and attempted to frame Capp as a pornographer, and the feud ended with Fisher's suicide.

Continuing with the captions:

The long-delayed, oft-postponed wedding of Daisy Mae and Li'l Abner Yokum. A social note of the first magnitude.
AL CAPP's hillbillies in trouble. The villain is named “Soft-Hearted John”.
AL CAPP's view of one aspect of higher education. Vanity, vanity, all is vanity.
A Sunday page of Li'l Abner, when our hero and heroine had been married for five years.

Not remembered now, but at the time Li'l Abner was the most popular strip at the time rivaling that of Peanuts (or right now, SpongeBob Squarepants). There were animated shorts, Broadway musical, movies, merchandising, and advertising.

Capp was also known in later years for his right-wing politics. That and his showmanship resulted in him giving college lectures, and with that came the inevitable sexual harassment lawsuits.

Moving on...

CHESTER GOULD's Dick Tracy in his first years. The original cops-and-robbers strip.
Dick Tracy in mid-1932, with Pat Patton and Chief Brandon to the rescue.
Dick Tracy in 1940, when Gould and Tracy had risen to the top of the heap.
A gallery of grotesques from Dick Tracy. Any resemblance to actual persons, Living or dead...

Dick Tracy was almost as big as Li'l Abner. It resulted in parodies including Capp's Fearless Fosdick. Gould was also a public figure with many eccentricities, such as having a graveyard for characters he killed off. He too had a conservative streak. There's even still a museum in honor of the strip.
An early Dickie Dare, as drawn by MILTON CANIFF.
A Terry and the Pirates of 1942, when its hero was pretty well grown up. So was Rouge.
CANIFF's Thanksgiving celebration: a covey of quail from Terry, served up on November 25, 1945.
Probably the most famous single Sunday page: Colonel Corkin and Lieutenant Lee.
Again, sorry for not being able to be able to print these strips in color. Don't blame the messenger.

When Caniff switched syndicates, he wasn't able to keep the rights to Terry and the Pirates, so he created the similar Steve Canyon strip.

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