Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Charley Jones Laugh Book

I was watching the Richard Schickel documentary of Charlie Chaplin's life (Charlie: The Life and Art of Charles Chaplin, 2003). Chaplin lived in fear of losing his ability to make people laugh. Charley Jones has nothing in common with Chaplin, except that he too tried to make people laugh. Unlike Chaplin, Jones has not aged well.

I don't know if there really was a Charley Jones (maybe he was a corporate style logo ala Tipsy McStagger, Mr. Peanut and Big Boy), but there WAS a Charley Jones' Laugh Book. It had color covers and a B&W interior. Here's the June 1949 issue and some gag cartoons from same. The cartoons are all, well, painful.

"The moving van's here, Dear. Are you sure we packed everything?"

"Walsh & Posner" contribute a number of cartoons, including this one. Not a bad gag, but a bit silly. If these people lived today, you'd have to draw more weight on them. And they'd have more stuff. We all have more stuff.

"Darn that coffee and wedding cake -- I can't sleep a wink! "

See? She's reading her secretarial school instructional manual to know what to do here.

Some beautiful brushwork and dynamic layout showcases a rather lackluster (even for this time) boss-chasing-secretary gag. More than one cartoonist I know will tend to overdraw a weakly written cartoon to overcompensate for a poor gag. Maybe that was the case here.

"I hate to do this, Junior, but I gotta show this painter the shade of 'Spanked-baby-pink!"

There are levels of meaning here, I'm sure. None of them I want to get into.

"Our complaint department is on the third floor, Mr. Jones!"

The imagery here is pretty offensive. Maybe that's why it's unsigned. Even the layout is wonky; it appears that the child is next to the guy's head instead of several feet behind him. Included below are some jokes that are, at best, obtuse.

A worldless cartoon. Took me a couple of seconds to understand exactly where we are. It's the line for the bathroom in a boarding house. But I still don't get it. Sure, you can meet a mermaid in a river or lake -- but in a bathroom??? Where could she get in? Did she just appear in the shower? The toilet??? OK, I think too much about this.

Well, this was back when there were so many markets that even a mediocre cartoonist could make a living.

Was Charley Jones, real or not, ever funny? Maybe he was to some, but he aged like moldy cheese as opposed to Mr. Chaplin's fine wine.

1 comment:

Johnny C said...

i'm so glad you're sharing these... I'm so worried that there are only a few copies in the hands of collectors; spread the joy I always say.