Comic Chronicles – The Way They Were (updated)

Not long after I posted this issue The AFRO posted an item about Hambone’s Meditations.
I’m putting that notice up top for those who have already read this entry.


Readers of The Commercial Dispatch and dozens of other Southern newspapers in the early 20th Century were greeted often, sometimes daily, sometimes on the front page, with “Hambone’s Meditations,” a racist caricatures of a stereotypical Black man reminiscent of minstrel show characters.

He had overdrawn lips, often smoked a pipe and spoke in non-standard English that was nearly undecipherable … On more than one occasion Hambone used the word n—-.

Brittany N. Gaddy details the comic panel’s racist caricature.



Opening with an Origins of Sunday Comics with Peter Maresca‘s historical comment.



© respective copyright owner

Harry McCracken continues to dig up the lost and forgotten comic strip history of Scrappy.

You’ve been waiting for this for almost five years–or, in a way, more than 80. Or maybe not. But I hope you’ll enjoy these four examples of the ill-fated Scrappy newspaper comic strip, which seems to have failed to … well, appear in any newspapers.

How did the Scrappy comic strip come to be? Did Columbia approach Eisner and Iger, or did they come up with the idea? How hard did they try to sell it to newspapers before shipping it overseas?



© Dallas Morning News

For more than 50 years, Dallasites opened The Dallas Morning News and saw cartoons drawn by John Francis Knott. His art delighted generations of readers, captured the zeitgeist, and struck a chord with his audience. To his fellow News staffers, Knott’s work expanded editorial cartooning as an art form.

The Dallas Morning News, which no longer employs a staff cartoonist, celebrates John F. Knott.

Knott is perhaps best known for his famous character of Old Man Texas. Modeled after the Lancaster postmaster and farmer James “Uncle Jimmy” Boyd, Old Man Texas was meant to symbolize what the average Texan might look like and what he might think. He was tall, lanky and sported a 10-gallon hat and handlebar mustache.



© Peanuts Worldwide

I have many Peanuts books on my shelves and in my boxes, but I don’t think I have any that tells me of Charles Schulz’s life story; so I picked this “bookazine” off the shelf of my local B&N.

Life provides an excerpt here.

Over five decades of solitary and deeply personal work, Charles Schulz drew 17,897 Peanuts comic strips, producing a body of work that constitutes not only the richest achievement in comic strip history, but also the most resonant sports strip of all time.

The simple genius of Peanuts lies in Schulz’s ability to get to the heart of large matters (unrequited love, loneliness) and critical life questions (is there a Great Pumpkin?) through the lens of emotionally precocious children. The reason the sports stuff works so well is that sports, by and large, compels a part of us that has never grown up.

Correction: glancing at the bookshelf I see a copy of David Michaelis’ Schulz and Peanuts.



Mutt & Jeff © Pierre S. De Beaumont

For some time, [Bud] Fisher played with a recurring character who was always looking to win big betting on horse races and just as often falling flat. Augustus Mutt was the tall, bedraggled gambler. Fisher came up with the idea to make him the lead character in a daily strip. When he pitched the idea to his editor, it was at first rejected because no one had done that before and the editor was sure sports readers only read downward and would not read a horizontal comic strip. Fisher was persistent and his strip debuted on Nov. 15, 1907, as “A. Mutt.”

Bill Caldwell, for The Joplin Globe, gives brief but good history of the iconic Mutt and Jeff.



Mickey Mouse © Disney

[I]n the world of animation, there’s no greater evidence of artists’ ability to organize and achieve results as a group than the Disney animators’ strike of 1941.

In labor strife, as in so much else, Disney’s timetable did not match the rest of Hollywood’s. The Great Depression and the labor-friendly administration of FDR helped inspire more union activity during the 1930s than the previous 50 years. The Screen Actors Guild, Directors Guild, and the Screen Writers Guild (later to split into the WGA East and West) were all founded in the 30s, and they doggedly fought Hollywood studios to win equitable pay, protection against exploitation, and safe working conditions. These battles passed Walt Disney Productions by.

William Fischer, at Collider, tells of the infamous Disney Strike.




© Variety Entertainment

From James Thompson, via the Platinum Era Comic Books and Periodicals Facebook page
is a four-page feature on comic strips from the Variety 1937-38 radio annual.




It’s nearly Halloween, so let’s end with a Walt Kelly/Pogo horror story,
albeit one with a happy ending. Read the full tale at Whirled of Kelly.