Wayback Whensday: Comic Stamps and Funny Money

A couple Sundays ago we noted Bob Weber, Jr.’s use of Lucky Bucks and crediting Paul Fung.

We also linked to Mark Johnson’s thoughts on the origins of such comic ephemera:

If I recall it right, it was Jimmy Murphy who started the extras like comic stamps, play money and cut-out dolls in Toots & Casper in about 1930 or 1931, and many other Hearst Sunday strips followed suit. The other syndicates may have done similar things, but kind of half-heartedly…

As to the comic stamps it seems Johnson was right. In August 1931 Jimmy Murphy began promoting his comic stamp in the August Sunday Toots and Casper topper It’s Papa Who Pays as a companion panel.

Even devoting the entire topper strip to the debut of the first comic stamp.

August 9, 1931
August 16, 1931
August 23, 1931

By 1932 the little bonus panel was spreading to other King Feature Syndicate strips.

But it is the origins of Lucky Bucks/Play Money which we were interested in. In that case…

The first samples of the Lucky Bucks Play Money is in the July 10, 1932 edition of Puck, The Comic Weekly.

In those Hearst Sunday comic supplements, and seemingly only in Hearst’s Puck sections, King Features replaced Rube Goldberg’s Boob McNutt three tier topper strip Bill with Lucky Bucks Play Money on July 10 through 31, 1932.

The first two issues of Lucky Bucks credits Popeye creator E. C. Segar with originating the idea. But that certainly is not Segar drawing the accompanying illustrations on those introductory promotions.

After July 31, 1932 the three tier Lucky Bucks Play Money disappeared and Bill returned to the Puck pages. But Lucky Bucks began appearing that same July 31st Sunday on one other page – Paul Fung’s Dumb Dora!

The first Sunday of August 1932 saw Billy de Beck and E. C. Segar join Paul Fung in featuring Lucky Bucks on their pages, and from there the feature began to run on other KFS pages.

Lucky Bucks fade in 1933 with the few still creating them putting them aside in the Summer of that year, though Percy Crosby kept minting them until May 1934.

But who did those original Lucky Buck pages? Was it Paul Fung? He certainly was talented enough to mimic the cartoonists’ styles on those original Lucky Bucks if they weren’t cut and pasted from original art. He was a King Features bullpenner who ghosted other strips when cartoonists took ill or fell behind. And why was Paul Fung’s July 31 page the only one with an introduction? The other later ones just started appearing with no explanation. Does Bob Weber, Jr. know something we don’t?

From Chinese American Eyes: All About Paul Fung

all images © King FeaturesSyndicate

5 thoughts on “Wayback Whensday: Comic Stamps and Funny Money

  1. A week after DeBeck and Segar joined Fung in offering Lucky Bucks, Disney’s topper — Silly Symphonies — carried “Lucky Mickey Bucks”, along with stamps. See the Brownsville Herald Aug/14/1932 pg 16.

    I don’t know if it means anything that Walt Disney’s signature did not appear, even though it did the prior week. The following two weeks (at least) saw some more play money, as Walt’s signature returned.

    1. Not unlike the S&H Green Stamps or Top Value Stamps. Or even the Marvel Comics Stamps.

  2. Wish the Puck Lucky Bucks was used to save for free premiums or something like that via the Puck Sunday Comic Weekly news service from King Features.

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