Tuesday, August 31, 2010


Imagine a superstar lineup – a kind of dream team – comprised of all the mischievous-yet-lovable kids that have starred in their own comic strips and books. The setting is a classroom where in attendance we find Dennis the Menace, Little Lulu, Tubby, Li’l Jinx, Little Audrey & Melvin, The Katzenjammer Kids (held back several times and the massive bullies of the class), etc. etc. “May I have your attention, class? Thank you. Today we have a new pupil. Class, please say hello to Little Iodine!”

Little Iodine (My favorite name of all the imps) was the creation of the great Jimmy Hatlo, whom baby-boomers will remember from his one-two panel strip, They'll Do It Every Time. Little Iodine was a spin-off of that strip, achieving her own strip and her own Dell comic. These two following stories come from Four Color No. 257, December 1949. Feast your eyes on Hatlo’s classic bigfoot draftsmanship!

This is another B&W inside cover (in this case the back cover); always an enjoyable staple with Dell. Hatlo's lovely brushwork and draftsmanship is on full display.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

DAGWOOD COMICS No. 47, November 1954
(And Much More!)

Chic Young’s Dagwood Comics was an immensely popular title for Harvey Comics despite (or perhaps because of) criminal levels of violence from boss Dithers, lasting a stout 140 issues over 15 years. Like so many Harvey comics of the era, it had consistently beautiful covers full of bright, primary colors and simple, striking graphic design:

The issues usually began with Dagwood introducing a story via a letter to his fans. In this issue, the first two connected stories appear not to be Chic Young; but done in a very appealing “in the style of" (Young's great work appears later).

These next stories are Chic Young (signed). Young's thin-lined, distinctive cartooning style gains strength from its contrasts: prim, refined and yet perfectly loose and easy to read.

What follows are two one-page stories from other contemporary strips of the time. First, The Little King by Otto Soglow.

Next is Thimble Theater by Bill Zaboly – one of the many great artists that have put their stamp on Popeye. Zaboly worked with writer, Tom Sims.

This issue was a real treasure trove of great ads, illustrated by great cartoonists. First up: Fred Harman illustrates an ad for Daisy’s Red Rider Carbine Air Rifle. Harman remains best known for his work on Red Ryder in both comic strip and comic book.

Next is an adventure starring the Dubble Bubble Kids done by Ray Thompson. Thompson was an advertising illustrator recruited by Fleer to compete with Bazooka Joe. Thompson’s wonderful comic work wrapped ba-zillions of squares of bubble gum.

Finally, Al Capp’s Frearless Fosdick peddles Wildwood Cream-Oil Hair Tonic.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Felix the Cat in "Weather Profit"

Four Color No. 162, September 1947 is all Otto Messmer, creator of Felix the Cat; who provides art, story, and lettering for “Weather Profit.”

The voluptuous work of Otto Messmer serves as a prototype for bigfoot cartooning (a style now often called “cartoony”). Messmer was a rubber hose animator from the early days of cartoons who struck gold with Felix the Cat, produced for the Pat Sullivan Studios. Hugely influential, Messmer went on to draw the popular Felix comic strips and produced Felix comics for Dell (Western Publishing) throughout the 1940s and 50s. Looking at his pages is like opening the lid on a box of beautiful, round candies. How much do you adore the brushwork?

Want more classic Messmer? Sure you do (and so do I!). Please see sidebar under The Big Blog Bookshelf!

Addendum: Animator and comic book artist, Mike Kazaleh, has identified pages 7-16 as the work Jim Tyer. Isn't page 13 sooo like a Terrytoon cartoon? Thanks, Mike!

Another pretty Dell single color, inside cover. Pure two-toned pleasure.

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