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Comic Chronicles and Dizzy Dramas

Dateline: Canada

Dateline: Canada

Steve Canyon came to a U. S. Air Force base in northern Canada last winter and was promptly dropped from the comic page of the Peterborough Examiner. In an editorial the newspaper explained, “We have become disturbed by the political implications of the strip. The hero and his friends were on what was obviously Canadian soil, but it seemed to he entirely under the domination of American troops who were there as a first-line defense against the Russians.”

The syndicated answer to this kind of nationalistic American comic strip may come in the form of two new nationalistic Canadian comic strips…

How will the two new comic strips fight their small-scale propaganda war? Not by running down the U. S. but by “glamorizing the face of Canada.” In his first adventure, Brannon visited “Toronto, focus of the future, channel for the untold wealth of the north, communications centre of a vast, rich hinterland, metropolis of rare and precious metals.” Jeff Buchanon recently cleaned up on a whole gang of dirty nightclub protection racketeers in “Montreal, the gay Paris of North America.”

In 1961 Maclean’s reports of Canada’s resistance to jingoistic U.S. comic strips.

 

Boner’s Ark – September 23, 1975

Y’know, that Addison guy draws a pretty good Beetle Bailey.

 

Mal (short for Malcolm) Eaton (1902-1974) was a New York-based cartoonist who was the artistic second cousin (three times removed) from the great T.S. Sullivant. While Eaton did not have the anthropomorphic chops of Sullivant, he did share a sense of wonderful stop animation-like figure movement, as well as that lively, scratchy pen line that both artists employed.

Mal Eaton will likely remain a footnote in the annals of comic strip history, but to paraphrase Little Miss Muffet, when he was good, Eaton was very, very good. In the end, his artwork brings a smile to my face, which is a job well done on his part.

Artist and comics historian Rob Stolzer appreciates Mal Eaton.

 

For a large part of their history, comic books were printed on newsprint with Web Press Printers, the same as Newspapers. Because of this, and the color separation methods used, there was a fairly limited color palette that colorists could work with that would reproduce accurately on the medium it was printed on. Through trial and error, the best colorists found ways to use this to their advantage.

Jeff Robertson describes the coloring process for grandpa’s comics.

This article is dedicated to the work of the under-credited color artists and separators who helped define the look of the comic book medium.

 

Decades before United Feature Syndicate promoted the minimalist style of the Peanuts comic strip that could run horizontally, vertically or be stacked, there was Dizzy Dramas by Joe Bowers.

The strip as laid out could run vertically down the page as a one column feature, it could be stacked as a two or three tier comic, or it could run as a very short strip (about one third the height of a regular comic strip) across the width of a page.

 

The “Dizzy Dramas” title was a lampoon of the popular Minute Movies, Thimble Theatre, and, as seen above, Goofey Movies strips that Ed Wheelan had popularized though Dizzy Dramas had no continuity to speak of.

The stick figure characters and bare backgrounds with clear, large lettering allowed for newspapers to squeeze the strip into the small holes editorial content didn’t fill.

Allan Holtz says the strip ran from 1927 to 1942.
And Alex Jay informs us that Joe Bowers was really Hugh Deeney.
Walter (The Shadow) Gibson tells a humorous story of why the Joe Bowers
pseudonym was created, it involves Hugh Deeney and escape artist Houdini.

The humor was what today would be described as innocent “Dad jokes.”
And if you think the gags and drawing would be suitable for those bubble gum comics, well…

It is not known with any certainty today what artist or artists drew the Dubble Bubble comics in the early 1930s. Curiously, Dub and Bub, for whatever reasons, was credited simply to ‘Fleer’. Philadelphia cartoonist Joe Bowers (born Hugh Joseph Deeney in 1894) was definitely the artist on the ‘stick people’ inserts, which were virtually identical to his Dizzy Dramas newspaper strip. Bowers was also most likely the creator of the Dubble Bubble Kids – a 1943 promotional calendar from Fleer featuring Pud and the gang is signed by the artist in question.

Below is a gallery of Dizzy Dramas from 1929. (Click on a strip to embiggen a bit more.)

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