Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Gold Key Comics "Wally 'He's the Most!'" #1 by Etta Kett's Paul Robinson

Here's one of those many teen-themed comic books. This is Wally "He's the Most!" The first issue gives you all you need to know: a high school dude who gets into humiliating scrapes. Wally is a spirited teen, and he has a noisy jalopy and a best friend called Hippo who always has a sandwich in his hand. Like Archie, the emphasis is on white middle-class misunderstandings. 

The series would have four quarterly issues before folding. 

The art, like the writing, is uncredited, but boy oh boy, it sure seemed polished.

Martin O'Hearn, of the Who Created the Comic Books? blog, was able to hunt down who the artist was for Gold Key's Wally:

"I had no idea who did the art on Gold Key's teen title Wally (#1, Dec/62–#4, Sep/63). I wondered if I'd seen it on a syndicated strip like Penny, but that one didn't match up.

"Some time later I saw the same artist's work on a couple of fillers in Standard's Kathy--but that still didn't give me a name. And some time after that I found it again, in more of those fillers, on Standard's Intimate Love 25 (Nov/53). Here, however, James Vadeboncoeur, Jr., had already IDed the artist: Paul Robinson.

"Robinson did do a syndicated strip--Etta Kett--for almost half a century: from 1925 to 1974. The day's strip here is from 1966. On the four issues of Wally he drew the Wally stories, backup Yvette stories, covers, and text headers; this tier is from 'Ballots and Belles' in #2."

More here.

Paul Robinson, who was originally from Kenton, Ohio, had moved to Sandusky, where he worked for the railway. When he was about 22, he left Ohio to work for the early animation studio Bray Productions. It was during the 1920s that he began steady comic strip work for the Central Press Association. Etta Kett was one of these. Central Press was bought out by King Features in 1930. 

Etta Kett was, according to Wikipedia:

"Launched as a single panel during December 1925, it originally offered tips to teenagers on manners, etiquette and the social graces. Robinson, however, saw a narrative potential that went beyond the initial format, devising a strip of wholesome humor that maintained a readership over five decades. Drawing with a polished, clean-line style, he jettisoned the teen-tips to expand his teenage characters into a daily strip and Sunday page about energetic Etta Kett and her middle-class family and friends in a suburban setting.

"Etta Kett came along six years after Carl Ed's Harold Teen and displayed certain parallels, notably activities set inside the Sugar Shack soda shop rather than the Sugar Bowl soda shop of Harold Teen. As Peter Kylling observed, Robinson also borrowed from his earlier strip, The Love-Byrds:

"The series premiered in the early 1920s. Stopped in 1925. Apparently just another series about a married couple living in the suburbs, but there are differences taking the time and age in consideration: Howard Byrd helps with the daily chores, and Peggy Byrd works in an office along with Howard. Furthermore, Howard likes his parents-in-law(!) and he joins the army only to be kicked out because of poor eyesight. The father character in Robinson's next comic book series, Etta Kett, is clearly modelled after Howard, and the series as a whole may be seen as a continuation of The Love-Byrds, except that the Ketts have a daughter who is in focus. She, on the other hand, bears resemblance to Peggy Byrd!"

So, who better than Paul Robinson, a guy who drew a comic strip called about teaching manners to teenagers, to draw a nice, clean cut fun Gold Key teenage comic book?

Below is the first Wally story in all its silliness. It's from Wally No. 1, December 1962 and is copyright K.K. Productions. 

Monday, April 15, 2024

October 1960 STARE Magazine Cartoons

Mom always told you it wasn't polite to STARE -- by extension, STARE Magazine is impolite -- and not the kind of thing your mom would approve of.

It's sexy, but in a kinda retro Austin Powers "Oh, behave!" way, with a lotta cheesecake photo essays with titles like "Cutey and the Cuticle" and "Overly N. Dowd." You get the picture. It was also a cartoon market. It was also -- surprise, surprise -- published by Marvel Comics.

STARE, Exciting and Lively Picture Pleasure! (yes, that's the whole title from the indicia) Volume 7, No. 3, October 1960 is copyright 1960 Timely Publications (now better known as Marvel). Steve Andre was the editor.

The digest-sized mag had a lot of "good girl photos," as well as over a dozen cartoons by cartoonists I have heard of, and cartoonists I have not.

Above is an atypical photo. This is Sylvia Steele, who, I know little else about.

I admire how the cartoonist Beattie is able to draw the frilly underwear and the folds in the doc's clothing.

Above: this is a poor reproduction from this yellowing magazine. The girl sure doesn't look like the kind you want to take home to mother!

Above: Henry Boltinoff, a prolific cartoonist if ever there was one, shows us the goofy-headed love life of the nerd. A tip off: the bow tie.

I don't know who Max Porter is but he knows that by putting black spotting in the boss' suit and in the woman's dress, our eyes will see who we are supposed be paying attention to, and readily get the gag.

Above: a really breezy pen (or brush) style overshadows the weak gag. Look at the juxtaposition of bodies. The cartoonist (I can't guess his name from the signature) knows his anatomy. No pun intended.

Edit: My friend Ger Apeldoorn IDs the cartoonist:

"Axsen" (?) gives us a typical goofy gag.

Above: some great black and white work in another so-so gag. Like I said, this copy of STARE has seen better days and some of the scans are not the best, regardless of Photoshop tweaking.

I really admire the working in of the shadows here, helping to pop put the figures.

What's fun about these cartoons are the sexy women who look like they enjoy being naughty. They also seem to all wear the same dark, clingy dress, with bodies like Bill Ward drew.

Above: a boss chasing the secretary cartoon. Sadly, like many corporations nowadays, the boss is outsourcing the job of chasing.

-- This was an edited encore presentation of an entry originally published on June 20, 2008.

The cartoonist whose signature you can't decipher is Albistur. He is a frequent guest in the Humorama books and I have seen him around at other places too. His name stuck to my mind, because he turns up as a serious artist in Simon and Kirby's Mainline books, especially Police Trap.


Friday, April 12, 2024

Mid Century Cartoon Art from the Metropolitan Cook Book (1964)


Mid century modern cartoon art is alive and well in this 1964 edition of the Metropolitan Cook Book, which is copyright that year by the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company. Their home office in New York, NY had been there since 1868 and they had over 1,000 offices in the USA and Canada. This 66 page booklet was, I assume, a giveaway. 

It's worth noting that when the call went out for illustrations, it was met by an uncredited artist who was obliged to anthropomorphize all of the drawings of meat and vegetables in the darn thing. Salads, coffee, fish, vegetables, etc. are all very, very happy to be eaten. Ecstatic, even. Take a look below at most all of the drawings which I have laboriously scanned for your enjoyment. Do you like those three happy pieces of toast on the cover up there (middle, left)? Then you'll love the rest of these drawings. Are the yeast breads suggestive? How can those three mean little fish in their fishbowl laugh so heartily at the big fish on the platter? I don't know. I'm too busy smiling at these.