Monday, January 18, 2021

Martin Luther King and The Montgomery Story Comic Book With Art by Sy Barry



Martin Luther King and The Montgomery Story was published in 1957 and told the story, in comic book format, of the Montgomery Bus Boycott. It began with Rosa Parks and ended with demonstrations led by Martin Luther King, Jr. The nonviolent protests took over a year, and were successful in ending the discrimination on the bus lines. 

Fast forward to 1961: Hollis Watkins and Curtis Elmer Hayes "refused to disperse" at a segregated Mississippi Woolworth's lunch counter and were arrested for violating Jim Crow laws. This one nonviolent protest began a series of sit-ins throughout the South. Both Watkins and Hayes had a copy of the comic book in their pockets at the time of their arrest. 

From the History site:

"The idea for the comic book came from Alfred Hassler, publications director for the Fellowship of Reconciliation, an interfaith social justice organization that promotes nonviolent activism. The publishing format was an unusual choice not only because the fellowship had no experience publishing comic books, but because comic books were detested by many Americans in the 1950s as a corrupting influence on the morals of America’s youth. 

"In 1954, a U.S. Senate subcommittee held televised hearings on the link between comic books and juvenile delinquency, and schools and civic organizations staged bonfire burnings of 'lurid' comic books. Even Hassler himself forbade his children from reading them. Still, he saw the medium’s value in reaching a different, younger audience than a conventional book. 

"'It was incredibly courageous to make a comic book at that time, but also more possible than ever for an organization like the Fellowship of Reconciliation to work with top-notch illustrators,' says Andrew Aydin, who wrote his master’s thesis on the history and impact of Martin Luther King and the Montgomery Story. 'The people who worked on it were driven out of the comic book industry by associating and working with some of the companies targeted by the hearings.'

"Hassler and Benton Resnik co-wrote the text, while artist Sy Barry, best known for his work on The Phantom comic strip, illustrated the book. King, himself, not only approved of the project, but made small editorial changes to the script. The text detailed the bus boycott and included practical instruction on how activists could u the nonviolent 'Montgomery Method' of protest to bring about social change."

Over a quarter million copies were initially distributed to churches and school and civil rights groups.  The comic was cited as inspiring the battle against apartheid in South Africa.

You can read the Martin Luther King and The Montgomery Story comic here.

I only recently discovered that my friend and fellow Berndt Toast Gang member Sy Barry was the artist for this seminal comic book. His signature can be seen in the first printing, but an added text box covers it in later reprints.

Sy has just recently moved from his longtime Long Island home to Massachusetts to be closer to his family. I sent him a copy of the Maine cartoon book I edited as a "welcome to New England" gift. So wonderful to see Sy's work remembered and, even in the 21st century, an impactful part of this comic from 1957. 

Friday, January 15, 2021

Jack Kirby's Son on Seeing the MAGA Insurrectionists Wearing Captain America Shirts


Jack Kirby's son Neal Kirby on seeing the January 6th MAGA insurrectionists wearing Captain America shirts. Thanks to Jake Tapper for this.

 First, from his Twitter account, here's Jake:


"Neal Kirby, the son of Captain America co-creator Jack Kirby, was distressed to see some of the January 6 terrorists/rioters wearing shirts with versions of his dad’s creation corrupted by the image of the outgoing president. His message to them:"



CNN: The son of Captain America's co-creator says Capitol Hill rioters misrepresented the superhero


Thursday, January 14, 2021

From the Dick Buchanan Files: The Old Joke Cemetery Part 2

As promised, here are a bunch of old jokes. This is part two. Part one is here.

Thank you, old joke-meister Dick Buchanan, for sharing these great oldy moldy gag cartoons! 


1941 - 1967

This year we celebrate the 99th anniversary of the Old Joke Cemetery, created by humorist Fred Allen and maintained today by caretaker Dick Buchanan. As one might imagine, the Old Joke Cemetery is the repository of many really old jokes. It is our duty to remind once an old joke is relegated to the Old Joke Cemetery is no guarantee that it won’t pop up again sometime in the future.

Therefore, pursuant to the fine print of the Old Joke Recovery Act of 1953, it is incumbent on the caretaker of the Old Joke Cemetery to publish some of the recent jokes formally interred in the cemetery. 

And, don’t forget, if per chance there’s a gag included in this selection that you haven’t encountered before then guess what? It’s not an old gag after all. It’s a new gag. That’s all due to the miracle of Humor. So, take a look . . . and bid fond adieu to some old gags . . . .

1. MARTHA BLANCHARD. The Saturday Evening Post July 27, 1957.


2. W. F. BROWN. The Saturday Evening Post January 12, 1957.


3. ORLANDO BUSINO. True Magazine April, 1966.


4. DICK CAVALLI. The Saturday Evening Post February 24, 1951.


5. DOUGLAS BORGSTEDT. Collier’s April 20, 1940.


6. LES COLIN. True Magazine July, 1950.

7. GEORGE WOLFE. Collier’s October 25, 1941.


8. DICK ERICSON. American Legion Magazine February, 1959.

9. ROY RAYMONE. Punch July 2, 1958.

10. FRED LEVINSON. The Saturday Evening Post June 8, 1957.

 11. NORMAN HOIFJELD. The Saturday Evening Post October 3, 1953.

12. LEO GAREL. Collier’s April 18, 1953.


13. REG HIDER. The Saturday Evening Post December 5, 1954.

14. DON TOBIN. The Saturday Evening Post December 11, 1954.


15. JOHN BEST. The American Legion Magazine September, 1961.

16. DAVE HIRSCH. Collier’s March 4, 1955.

17. GEORGE SMITH. The Saturday Evening Post May 28, 1949.

18. HERB WILLIAMS. True Magazine August, 1963.

19. CHON DAY. American Legion Magazine November, 1959.

20. BERNIE WISEMAN. For Laughing Out Loud #4, 1957.


Wednesday, January 13, 2021

From the Dick Buchanan Files: The Old Joke Cemetery Part 1

A year ago, I ran this entry about old jokes. I'm rerunning it here because tomorrow there will be an all-new sequel. I know you didn't ask for even more of these old dreadful old gag cartoons, but that's what we deal with here, so ... tough! Now go groan and laugh at these moldy oldies that have been hand curated by the one and only Dick Buchanan. Thanks, and take it away, Dick!


Laugh In Peace

In 1922, Fred Allen commissioned comic-strip artist Martin Branner (Winnie Winkle) to cover a theater curtain with an elaborate mural painting depicting a cemetery with a punchline on each gravestone and crypt. This was the "Old Joke Cemetery," where overworked gags go to die.

Sadly, Fred Allen’s curtain no longer exists. But, thanks to the Old Joke Recovery Act of 1953, the Old Joke Cemetery has been revived by the Cartoon Clip File. Today it consists of an assemblage of vintage gag cartoons clipped from old magazines and haphazardly pasted on the walls of Cartoon Clip File headquarters.

These are the gag cartoon versions old jokes now interred in the Old Joke Cemetery. No one recalls when or where these gags first appeared but they did and they’ve been with us ever since.

Here’s a chance to say goodbye to some favorite old jokes now interred in the Old Joke Cemetery . . . and keep in mind, some of these old jokes are merely resting and will likely re-appear now and again.

1. AL JOHNS. The Saturday Evening Post December 22 – 29, 1962.

 2. SYD HOFF. True Magazine June, 1952.

3. WALTER GOLDSTEIN. The Saturday Evening Post October 16, 1951.

4. PHIL INTERALNDI. Look Magazine December 31, 1962.

5. KAZ. Larry Katzman’s Nurse Nellie cartoons appeared in magazines, book collections and greeting cards. The Saturday Evening Post May 27, 1961.

6. MARTHA BLANCHARD. Look Magazine May 9, 1961.

7. GLEN BERNHARDT. Bernhardt was a West Coast cartoonist who founded the Northern California Cartoon & Humor Association in 1954. Collier’s May 20, 1950.

8. GARDNER REA. Look Magazine April 9, 1963.

9. NED HILTON. Collier’s March 11, 1950.

10. WILLIAM von RIEGEN. Collier’s November 4, 1950.

11. GLEN BERNHARDT. American Magazine June, 1953.

12. BORIS DRUCKER. The Saturday Evening Post June 11, 1949.

13. MICHAEL BERRY. Collier’s December 21, 1946.

14. BRAM. Martin Brammier, Jr. The Saturday Evening Post June 11, 1960.

15. JERRY MARCUS. Here! December, 1951.

16. SYD HOFF. Collier’s March 19, 1949.

17. HERB GREEN. The Saturday Evening Post July 20, 1957.

18. CHON DAY. Collier’s July 18, 1953.

19. PETER WYMA. The Saturday Evening Post April 18, 1959.

20. KATE OSANN. Collier’s April 15, 1950.

21. TUP. Bob Tupper was a popular “men’s interest” magazine cartoonist. a-Laugh-a-Minit January, 1956.
22. GARDNER REA. Collier’s June 26, 1948.

23. JEFF MONAHAN. 1000 Jokes Magazine March-May, 1958.

24. BILL KING. American Legion Magazine May, 1949.

25. JOHN NORMENT. The Saturday Evening Post June 15, 1957.