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Larry Harnisch reflects on Los Angeles history

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What's Your Favorite Comic From 1941?





  Feb. 28, 1941, Napoleon and Uncle Elby  


“Napoleon and Uncle Elby” by Clifford McBride. I love the artwork of this strip, but I’m not much on the subject matter in which the dog is sort of a proto-Marmaduke (surely the longest-running unfunny strip in history).

  Feb. 28, 1941, Tarzan  


“Tarzan” by Rex Maxon. The ethnic stereotypes are dreadful and Maxon has terrible trouble with anatomy. And yet the images can be quite powerful.


Feb. 28, 1941: One of the great pleasures in doing the Daily Mirror is reading years and years’ worth of old comics. Sometimes I can hardly wait to find out which of Adams Ames’ children is going to get into trouble next. And then there’s the ultraviolence and weird characters  of the Dick Tracy strips. Most of all, I delight in the fabulous artwork of folks like Al Capp.

So here’s your chance to tell me what comics you enjoy from 1941!




 
  Feb. 28, 1941, Grin and Bear It  


“Grin and Bear It” by George Lichty is one of my least favorite strips. The gags are dumb and the artwork is sloppy – although not as bad as it became later on, when it was just scribbles. And because Lichty works in pencil, the art always looks sloppy and smudgy.

  Feb. 28, 1941, Li'l Abner  

“Li’l Abner” by Al Capp. What more needs to be said? 

  Feb. 28, 1941, Gasoline Alley  

“Gasoline Alley” by Frank King. This isn’t my favorite strip, although I grew up reading it.

  Ella Cinders, Feb. 28, 1941  


I’m too young to remember “Ella Cinders” by Bill Conselman Jr. and Charlie Plumb and I can’t pretend I care much for it. It’s one of those antique strips that seems frozen in time, like “Harold Teen.”

  Feb. 28, 1941, Mary Worth  


“Mary Worth’s Family” by Dale Allen. I detested this strip in later years. I mean Mary Worth is such a tiresome old meddler. These earlier strips have some charm to them and I am enjoying the artwork.

  Feb. 28, 1941, Harold Teen  


“Harold Teen” by Carl Ed. “Harold Teen” always strikes me as a holdover from an earlier era, with very flat, cartoony artwork. I mean look at those hands!

  Feb. 28, 1941, Dick Tracy  


“Dick Tracy” by Chester Gould. Violence, nonsensical plots and I often wonder about Gould’s artwork (I mean look at the crude way he drew that cup!) But I always read it.

  Feb. 28, 1941, Abby An' Slats  


“Abbie an’ Slats” by Raeburn Van Buren. I always find the artwork is “too fussy” in this strip, and it doesn’t reproduce well.   Most of the artists worked in strict black and white and achieved middle tones by repeated lines or crosshatching. This strip tries to get middle tones with Zipatone or some other process that makes the panels murky.

 
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Comments (4)

Me, I still read "Blondie," which I read in the 1940s -- the LATE '40s.
I understand in the beginning Dagwood was a rich playboy who was cut off from the family money because he married a flapper from the wrong side of the tracks -- Blondie, and so he had to go to work. I'd love to seem some of those early strips, from the 1930s I guess.
This is from later, but I still Go Pogo.

Whoops, I meant 1920s, the flapper era.

Chester Gould is a pig, and you should look at some of his Dick Tracy from the '30s, when he could not get basic proportion down, with characters standing immediately next to a car that's half the size ratio they are. But since i was a kid in the '50s i've loved his long narrative stories, which progress in directions you can't predict. He learned to draw very well, and realized the power a strip can create, as when he'd spend a week just on multiple povs of a burning building, each day revealing a little aspect about the crime therein without a word of explanation, leaving it up to the reader to spot it.

1. Dreadful ethnic stereotypes were common in 1941 movies as well. See, e.g. Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland in blackface.
2. The artwork in early Mary Worth and Napoleon is surprisingly good.
3. Never understood Gasoline Alley.
4. Li'l Abner had some great story lines: Lower Slobbovia [i.e. Russia], kickapoo joy juice, Abner exhausted after sleep testing mattresses all day, etc. PS check out Julie Newmar and Tina Louise in the Broadway cast of Li'l Abner


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