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Comic Chronicles: McManus, Schulz, Perez

George McManus and The Art of Entertaining Readers Daily

Comic disharmony between Jiggs and Maggie over their social climb was the central joke of George McManus’s Bringing Up Father for over four decades. For all of McManus’s fine sense of humor, he banged that one note across four panels six days a week and a full page every Sunday…

McManus, however, was especially adept at maintaining reader interest in the familiar with his mastery of visual style, panel sequencing and timing.


© King Features Syndicate

And it is that gorgeous McManus visual signature that always keeps a Bringing Up Father daily interesting. Somewhere between Art Nouveau and Deco, his thin, uncannily even line loves peerless curves and ruler-straight parallels and squares for shading effect. It is at once otherworldly but somehow human, a big foot style executed with geometric precision.

Steve Smith discourses on George McManus keeping Bringing Up Father fresh.

 

The Last Major Peanuts Character Takes Center Stage

 

It took a year for Rerun to age into a toddler’s age, when he made his debut in the strip in 1973…

And then……nothing.

Then Schulz came up with a clever idea where he would put Rerun on the back of his mother’s bicycle and then have Rerun narrate the ride like a nature documentary, while the toddler was scared like crazy…

In his interview with Gary Groth for the Comics Journal #200 in 1997, Schulz then revealed why he aged Rerun up a bit to the age of going to kintergarten (after first noting that he thought that Rerun was initially a mistake as a character):

I think he was a mistake when it first began. I was looking for something that was different. I put him on the back of his Mom’s bike, and the only time he ever appeared was riding on the back of that bike. I like those. And then, we had a few grandchildren who had to start preschool and kindergarten, and I see little kids at the arena, too. I began to get some ideas and so he was the perfect one to have start kintergarten. he’s different from Lucy and Linus. He’s a little more outspoken. And I think he’s going to be a little on the strange side… [laughs] the way he is already.


 
© Peanuts Worldwide

Again, Rerun was just kind of WEIRD, which was awesome, it gave him jokes you would never get from Charlie Brown or Linus…

Brian Cronin, at CBR, tells how Rerun became the star of Peanuts for a short while.

 

The L. A. Times First Mexican Cartoonist/Illustrator

In the fall of 2020, L.A. Times editorial library director Cary Schneider and I [Gustavo Arellano] pondered an unexpected question: Who was Alex Perez?

We had received an inquiry about him from a woman who said she was the wife of Perez’s grandson and wanted more information on Perez, who, “I was told, was the first Mexican cartoonist/illustrator hired at the L.A. Times.”

Damn. And here I thought it was the Pulitzer Prize-nominated cartoonista Lalo Alcaraz, author of the comic strip “La Cucaracha” that we run.


© The Los Angeles Times

The earliest Perez cartoon I could find in The Times dates to April 5, 1925. Perez would stay with us for 50 years.

He moonlighted as a beat reporter on Latino affairs, and there are dispatches into the 1950s that suggested Perez translated for English-speaking reporters, which his son said was true. But Perez gained fame largely for his lighthearted illustrations. He jumped between creating the art for stories in the Sunday Los Angeles Times Magazine and doing caricatures of celebrities and one-panel comics for various sections of the paper, eventually settling in Sports.

Los Angeles Times staff artist Alex Perez is profiled.

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