CSotD: Friday Funnies, Episode IV, A New Hope

Rex Morgan took a serious step through the fourth wall Sunday, wrapping up a story that had begun with a singer with a bad cough, written in part before bad coughs were a thing, and now to be followed by a storyline that wouldn’t be overshadowed by current events.

So now l’il Grundoon has asked a question and over the past week, we’ve fiddled around in order, I suspect, to kick off the actual start of Rex’s explanation on Sunday.

Since Terry Beatty has, as seen in that larger episode, gone back to 1948, let’s either provide a sneak peek or make his effort harder, with the first six strips, as collected on Sunday, May 16, 1948, by the Pittsburgh Press in order to let their readers catch up and start paying more attention to the weekday editions:

Given that first impression, I have to give Rex and June credit for containing their mutual hots and operating on a purely professional level for 47 years before they finally got married.

We’ll see how he explains it all to Sarah.

(UPDATE: Terry says it’s a retcon and he’s changing the story, which is good because “She came with the furniture” seems kind of boring.)


And as long as we’re poking around in the archives, here’s an ad I found in a newspaper from 1903, in which Buster Brown sells clothes, though the text of the illustration isn’t terribly clear on what he is shilling for, suggesting that anyone who wanted to license the artwork was free to sell whatever they had on hand.

I note, however, that Outcault not only signed the work but included a trademark icon, though Buster was trademarked by the NY Herald and not the artist, which is how the ball bounced in those days. Whatever kids may have learned from Buster (or the Yellow Kid), cartoonists learned a lesson from Outcault’s adventures in copyright and trademark law.

A year after this ad ran, the Brown Shoe Company licensed Buster and began selling Buster Brown Shoes, which still exist, though I don’t think they have their own stores anymore.

Two other notes: Buster’s girlfriend, Mary Jane, gave her name to a particular type of girls’ shoe, and, in a course on business law, we were told that you couldn’t copyright the term “brown shoes” because it was too generic and anyone could claim to make shoes that were brown, as opposed to “wonderfully magical” shoes.

I’m going to assume the professor had chosen the example without considering what might happen when someone named Brown decided to make shoes.

And a third note, which is that, if you like this vintage stuff, you should be following Tom Heintjes over on Twitter.


He runs fun stuff like this regularly on his Twitter feed, and you should probably also subscribe to his magazine, Hogan’s Alley, which is up for an Eisner, but, in the meantime, pull your harpoon out of your dirty old bandana and audition for your high school’s harmonica band.

Though, strange as it sounds now, in 1950, the Harmonicats had a Number One hit with “Peg O’ My Heart,” played on Hohner harmonicas.


Still on the nostalgia watch, Pooch Cafe hearkens back to the days when Henry seemed to find pies cooling on windowsills two or three times a week, which mystified me even in the 1950s.

Their theft of the refrigerator is appropriate, though, because back in the days of pies on windowsills, people put other perishables out there, like milk or meat, because they didn’t have refrigerators or even ice boxes.

They also went to the store every couple of days, rather than stocking up for a week at a supermarket, and food obviously wouldn’t keep out there in the middle of summer, but, then again, you wouldn’t fire up a wood stove and bake pies when it was 90 degrees out, either.


Nostalgic Juxtaposition of the Week:

Red and Rover takes place in the mid-Sixties, but this week saw some substantial hearkening-back.

Star Trek debuted Thursday, September 8, 1966, at 8:30, which suggests that Red was allowed to stay up until 9:30 on a school night, which is doubly unlikely given that he had a paper route.

Leave us not pick nits: Accept that he watched it during vacation breaks, and he delivered an afternoon paper.

I’m more intrigued by TV scheduling that would start a one-hour program at the bottom of the hour rather than the top.

And, if you visit the Lucy/Desi museum in Jamestown, NY, you’ll find a section about how Lucy championed the show when others were dubious.

Goldfish crackers hit the US market in 1962, and here’s more than you wanted to know about that.

And I don’t have background on toys in cereal, but my poor mother had to manage the phenomenon in a family of six kids, which involved a rule that we could only have one sugared and one plain cereal open at a time, but I have no idea how she kept track of whose turn it was to get the prize.

I do remember that we couldn’t have it until the cereal it came in was gone, so it didn’t matter which end you opened or how much you shook the box.

I also remember that some of the toys were disappointing crap but many of them were additions to our collections of plastic animals and people and stuck around for years.

“Collect the whole series” was a worthwhile goal.

And Red and Rover is a worthwhile nostalgia trip for those of us of a certain age, and a bit of trivial history for those who aren’t.


Finally, Tank McNamara explores the problem of reopening colleges.

For my part, if I had to choose between hanging out on campus without classes, or taking classes without being on campus, I’d certainly go for the experience over the academics.

Then again, like Doug in this vintage Helen, Sweetheart of the Internet, I wasn’t the most intense scholar.


Not that I didn’t respect reading as a concept, mind you.


8 thoughts on “CSotD: Friday Funnies, Episode IV, A New Hope

  1. If Red lived in the Central Time zone, Star Trek would have come on at 8:30, creating a natural-born argument for him to get to stay up an extra half hour on a school night.

  2. Back in the Olden Days (TM), at least in Florida, kitchens were sometimes in buildings separate from the main house, first because it kept the rest of the house cool on those days when you absolutely had to fire up the wood stove (maybe because a baby was coming?) and second because if the kitchen caught fire it might not spread to the rest of the house. See https://www.floridastateparks.org/parks-and-trails/marjorie-kinnan-rawlings-historic-state-park for an example.

  3. Rather nice houses, yes. Not mansions, but nicer homes than where the rest of us lived, though it was a time when having “help” was not the exclusive province of the wealthy. Having a full kitchen’s worth of help perhaps was.

    Next question is how many of the people who put food out on their windowsills lived on the ground floor? And would those on the ground floor put them on the window facing the street.

    Henry always required a certain suspension of disbelief.

    PS — My grandmother and Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings were pals at the Univ of Wisconsin. Which comment will certainly puzzle people who ignore the links.

  4. I’m fond of Mary Jane peanut butter chews. I can’t tell from the tiny size they print her at whether the MJ on the wrapper looks like an Outcalt character or not. Or whether they used Skippy peanut butter (cue the ghost of Percy Crosby, whose family continues his outrage over a name that skated on the coattails of his popularity without ever forking over a cent).

    The Harmonicats also had a hit with a harmonica version of Debussy’s Clair de Lune. I gambled half a buck at a thrift shop once on a Greatest Hits compilation by them, and had listened to 3/4 of Clair de Lune before it suddenly occurred to me that this was the original piano version, and there wasn’t a harmonica to be heard. Interesting choice by the producer, there.

    Harmonicas are amusing, but I’m becoming the Life of the Party in time-honored fashion: Learning to play the accordion. Woo!

    You can tell Red and Rover are in the past. Prizes in children’s cereal are fewer and farther between than ever. The last good one I saw must have been sponsored by 20th Century Fox, or Lucas himself–the battery-powered lightspoon! Those can’t have been cheap. (Similarly, the last good prize I saw in Cracker Jacks was around the same time–20 years ago–consisting of plastic whistles in the shape of baseball fixtures, like a glove, a ball, etc., and that seems to have been sponsored by MLB. By a remarkable fluke, I got something like five of them in a single bag of CJ.)

    While I’m being boring here, I once saw a California cooler in a house a friend was renting in Colorado–a cupboard that was open at the bottom to the outside (through a screen), and depended upon wet cloths being kept down there, which lowered the temperature in evaporative ways, like a swamp cooler.

  5. Mary Janes were named after the candymaker’s daughter. Good news is, someone has purchased the rights and will be making them again.

  6. There’s a rather shocking pie-on-the-windowsill scene in “Bad Company” (the 1972 film); I doubt if Henry would have kept on stealing pies after seeing that.

  7. I hadn’t noticed their absence. I could have sworn they were at the dollar store in bags, and at Wegman’s in the bulk area, but I’ve also been having less candy recently, so it’s possible they could have been gone since 2018. (Only just found out about Necco’s bankruptcy. The wafers are no longer a staple of my diet, but their Sky Bars were the closest I could find to a 7-Up bar in recent decades.)

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