In 1929, E.C. Segar introduced Popeye in his Thimble Theatre comic strip. After Segar died of leukemia in 1938, the Popeye strip was scripted by Tom Sims, who lived in Ohatchee, Alabama. Doc Winner (1884-1956), who worked in the King Features bullpen, illustrated the strip until the 1938 arrival of Bela Zaboly, aka Bill Zaboly (1910-1985). Sims and Zaboly teamed on the strip from 1938 to 1955. Zaboly continued until 1958 when Bud Sagendorf (1915-1994) took over. The current run of the strip consists of Sagendorf reprints. Zaboly also continued Segar's Sappo topper strip. For more Sappo, go to Stripper's Guide. Zaboly's illustrated signature used the initials "BZ" with the "B" formed by the wings of a bee.
Death of Newspapers #20: Jimmy Murphy
Here's how King Features introduced Jimmy Murphy's Toots and Casper in July 1919 to newspaper editors in Editor & Publisher. The strip began seven months earlier in Hearst's New York American.
The Sunday strip began July 1920.
August 17, 1930
(l to r) Jimmy Murphy, William Randolph Hearst, Rube Goldberg and George McManus lunch at Los Angeles' Ambassador Hotel in the late 1930s.
June 22, 1930
Bud Duncan as Casper in Smile, Buttercup, Smile (1929)
This is a page Larry Hama and I did in 1969 for Gothic Blimp Works #4, an issue I co-edited with Kim Deitch. There's a curiosity in panel eight. I pasted in a reduction of a Topps poster, "Wanted for Highway Robbery: TV Repairman", but only now do I notice that the Jack Davis cartoon of the repairman appears to be blacked over. Strange. But a lot of strange things were happening in 1969.
I asked Larry to identify the person in the fourth panel and anything else he recalled about our collaborations. Larry responded, "I can barely remember stuff I worked on 20 years ago, let alone stuff I did 40+ years ago! I also haven't seen those pages in probably more than 35 years. People from Marvel and DC are always calling me to ask about stuff I worked on in the 1970s and early 1980s, and 75% of the time I can't help them at all. But the guy in panel four is definitely the guitarist from Country Joe and the Fish. I think the pic I copied is on the back of Electric Music for the Mind and Body."
Actually, as we see below, it's David Cohen on the back of their second album, I-Feel-Like-I'm-Fixin'-to-Die.
In the world of Gus Edson's The Gumps, people could actually read The Gumps, as evident in the first panel when seen enlarged. But it raises a few questions. Had Min, week after week, read her own life story?
In the next to last panel, Edson curiously confused the gag. He could have moved the characters to the left so that the sign would not have been in Andy's sightline. If he could so easily read the sign, then no need for him to run to the optometrist.
This Sunday strip is from January 23, 1955. For a few earlier Gumps, click on the labels at bottom. All 20th century radio-TV situation comedies can be traced back to The Gumps. It was the basis for the radio series Freeman Gosden and Charles Correll developed as Amos 'n' Andy, such a success that it became the prototype for radio comedies and soap operas. Elizabeth McLeod has written extensively on this strip-to-radio evolution which can be read here. (Wait for page to load.)
Created by Sidney Smith, The Gumps began February 12, 1917. Here's how it looked on March 8, 1925. In 1922, when he signed a new contract with the Chicago Tribune, he was given a Rolls Royce (see ad below). Smith died October 20, 1935, in a head-on collision.
Topps #11: More Wacky Packages
Here's another of my Wacky Packages gags, showing rough, finish and original product. This is from the third Wacky Packages series (1973). The name Windchester actually doesn't make much sense, humor or otherwise. Woundchester would have been a much better name, but I doubt it would have been accepted; notice the editorial change to my original copy.
Come back, Johnny Horizon, we hardly knew ye.
Johnny Horizon arrived in 1968 as the spokesman for the Bureau of Land Management. In 1976, he put on his backpack and vanished into the sunset. But why? The answer is here.
Burl Ives and Arthur Godfrey at 1970 Johnny Horizon rally before Lincoln Memorial.
Bill Gaines in the Statue of Liberty's arm
Annie Gaines took this photo of Bill Gaines stuck inside the arm of the Statue of Liberty. Only DeBartolo and Annie Gaines made it all the way to the torch balcony. However, being atop the torch platform, rocking gently in the wind, was so terrifying that they stayed less than a minute.
In his book Good Days and Mad, DeBartolo described how all three traveled one night to Liberty Island in DeBartolo's boat and then made the climb. This photo is part of a Life.com slide show on Mad which you can see here. Since the arm was closed to tourists, how did DeBartolo pull this off? He explains how he made the connection here.
Mad editor John Ficarra recalled: "This is Bill stuck in the Statue of Liberty. He was a huge Statue of Liberty fan. In fact, he owned the world's premiere collection of Statue of Liberty paraphernalia. He owned the original molds by Bartholdi. Dick DeBartolo talked to the guy who was the night watchmen at the statue and arranged for a group to have a private night tour. Bill had some trouble on those narrow stairs. The weird thing? I think that jacket he's wearing in the picture is the jacket he wore the day he died. He was not noted for his haberdashery."
Between 1876 and 1882, the Statue of Liberty arm was in Madison Square Park for fund-raising to complete the Statue. Anyone could pay 50 cents to climb to the torch balcony.