A Collection of Chips, Crime, and Comic Chronicles

Crime Comic Strips

Who could have known that newspaper comic strips and crime stories, including noir, were a match made in heaven?

Newspaper comic strips are an artistic genre that’s largely forgotten now. The strips that remain are for the most part humor strips like “Garfield.” A handful of dramatic strips are still published.

But serial dramatic strips were once a staple of the newspaper comics page. Many of them were soap opera-ish strips like “Mary Worth” and “Apartment 3-G.” To say that drama strips were slow moving is an understatement. I wish I could remember who joked that they came back to read “Apartment 3-G” after decades away and the caption read, “Later that afternoon …”

But that deliberate pace – well, maybe not quite that deliberate – was perfect for teasing out a good crime storyline. And crime and noir look awesome in black and white newsprint.

Apparently all it takes for something to be noir is to be in black and white. Dick Tracy, Dan Dunn, Steve Roper and Mike Nomad, War on Crime, and a couple others (by fudging a bit The Spirit is included) are discussed by Keith Roysdon, for Crime Reads, as he looks at crime noir comic strips.


Reg Manning Highways


E.C. has a wonderful (but not very politically correct) pocket-sized book inherited from her father called Reg Manning’s “Cartoon Guide to California” (1939). It is almost in its original condition, which is important in the valuation of books.

Manning, at age 21, began designing editorial cartoons for The Arizona Republic , and said, in later life, that the key to cartooning is that “there is no humor without knowledge of experience.” If we enjoy our modern satirists on late night TV, we will hear that echo of that sentiment.

Throughout his career, Manning published humorous postcards, and he liked to contrast the fabulously buxom women of the West with the scruffy cowboys of the West in the 1930-40, — and do remember — the West was a haven for divorcees. His series of “Travel Cards” issued by various publishers are in hot demand by postcard collectors today.

I see that a good copy in undamaged shape of “Cartoons of California” can bring $125 or more.

A question about a Reg Manning book brings us a little background about the cartoonist
from Dr. Elizabeth Stewart’s “Ask the Gold Digger” column in The Santa Barbara News-Press.


Cheerio to Chips


I first saw the cover to the final issue of the long-running comic CHIPS 50 years ago, in The Penguin Book of Comics and have been looking for a copy, on and off, ever since. Well, I finally won it on eBay this week! So here’s a few pages from that very last issue; CHIPS No. 2,997 dated 12th September 1953.

The original CHIPS was first published by The Amalgamated Press in July 1890 and 1953, ending its 63-year run just three issues shy of 3000 editions. Originally priced at a half-penny, Illustrated Chips (the “Illustrated”, often small not dropped until 1952) was among a number of publisher Alfred Harmsworth’s titles that challenged the dominance in popularity of the “penny dreadfuls” among British children.

Caught my attention because I remember my first encounter with British comic magazines being that Penguin book. Here comic artist and writer Lew Stringer guides us through the very last issue of one of Britain’s longest-running comics, CHIPS.


See You in the Funny Papers

Ever hear the expression on parting from someone “see you in the funny papers”?

Unless you’ve over 70, you probably haven’t heard it — ever.

Back in the 1940s and 1950s, however, you could have heard it a lot. I surmise that the “funny papers” (newspaper comic sections) were so big and universal — especially on Sunday — that they rivaled everyday life itself.

Not so today, very sad to say. In fact, the biggest and most famous newspapers in America no longer wrap themselves in “funny papers” on Sunday, instead gazing out at us like slabs of gray type with giant words like “inflation” or “election.” Boooooring!

Appoint me czar of American journalism and I’d soon right this wrong. In fact, here are some of my personal favorite strips that would be mandatory for my (and your) perusal over Sunday coffee.

Bringing Up Father, They’ll Do It Every Time, Joe Palooka, Pogo, Mickey Finn, and others.
Tom Mooney Remembers When for The Wilkes Barre Times Leader.

all images © the respective copyright holders