Cartoonists that Never Were – Stanley Ford


Like Baldo Smudge, Stanley Ford is a fictitious comic strip cartoonist.

Stanley Ford is the main character in the 1965 movie How to Murder your Wife, starring Jack Lemmon as the cartoonist. Stanley Ford is the highly successful creator of an action/adventure comic strip featuring secret agent Bash Brannigan.

That all changes when Stanley, and inevitably, Bash get married because Bash is a realistic comic strip and does nothing if Stanley can’t do it. The comic strip now devolves into a domestic sitcom.

The cartoonist hates the new direction of the strip. There is only one logical way out, murder the wife.


The movie’s co-star is the lovely Verna Lisi, an unknown actress in the United States. So the producers decided to introduce her to the Hollywood crowd by creating a two week daily comic strip and put it in The Hollywood Reporter. They contracted Alex Toth for the promotional comic strip and to draw the comic strip props needed for the movie.

In 1964 the twelve promo strips, Steve Bentley, Secret Agent by Stanley Ford, appeared.

That went very well with Alex Toth ghosting art and letters for “Stanley Ford.” Unfortunately by the time production started, or during production, difficulties arose among the movie people and Alex Toth and they parted ways. This led to comic strip and comic book artist Mel Keefer to be offered the job.

Mel Keefer has four of his strips (and for some reason an Alex Toth strip) featured at his website.
More of Mel’s comic strips for the film can be seen through clear screen grabs from El Blog Ausente.

The Alex Toth preview comic strips are detailed and fitting for newspaper printing,
while the Mel Keefer strips are barer and better for quick viewing on a movie screen.

Spoiler Alert
The movie ends with Stanley reunited with his bride and, presumably, living happily ever after.
I guess the comic strip continues as a sitcom, which is proper because
by 1965 adventure strips were on their way out anyway.







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