Friday, February 18, 2022

The Wretched Mess News


The Wretched Mess News, was created in 1962 by ad-man David Bascom, as a jokey little journal about fly fishing and camping. It was silly and cheaply produced with either Mr. Bascom's sketches or "found" art. Bascom was more than just an ad-man, he was president of the Guild, Bascom & Bonfigli, Inc. advertising firm in San Francisco, "the world's most lovable advertising agency." Also: he was one of the founders of Fisherman's National Bank.

"'In times past,' Bascom said the other day, 'some noncultured but well-heeled folk—the sort that constitute prime prospects for an advertising agency—looked upon my Wretched Mess activities as proof that I was 100% nuts and thus singularly ill-fitted to direct, or even to participate in, serious business matters.' At first Bascom tried to convince them that The Wretched Mess News occupied only 5% of his time and thus proved, he claimed, 'that I am not more than 5% nuts.'" -- A Wretched Mess of Type, Mostly About Fishing by Robert Cantwell, Sports Illustrated, December 20, 1965.

The Wretched Mess News was around for a number of years, with informational tongue in cheek articles like 

Is Smokey the Bear a Communist Spy?

How Robt. Fulton, Thos. Edison & Irving Schwartz Did Not Invent Keel Flies

The Wonderful World of Worms

Wretched Wreviews

How I Solved the Earwax Problem 

I always thought it akin to Monty Python or The Goon Show. Just way-out there humor. It's only recently that I found an issue of the The Wretched Mess News ("Vol. 8, No. 4, Fishmas, 1970") and bought it at the flea market in Arundel, Maine. And recenter (That's not a word.) still that I looked into how it was created and who really was Ed. & Pub. Milford "Stanley" Poltroon? As a kid, in Lawrence, KS, I had a Wretched Mess calendar that someone (Dad?) gave me as a present. It was very silly and there were crazy events and an extra month. Fast forward a couple of decades to that flea market, and I saw a complete issue -- along with that "Free Moose" insert. Here's the entire issue.



Orang Basikal said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Orang Basikal said...

I remember having a Wretched Mess calendar too, though I did not associate it with this publisher.

al said...

i had a subsciption to all the best stuff west yellowstone had to offer. i wish i still had all of that stuff . funny as moose poop

Wulfhere said...

My dad was buddies with Poltroon and always had Wretched Mess calendars and such about the house.
The plucky Mr. Bradley was my mother's boss, and she was secretary to the owner of said Montana Television Network back in those days.

Blake Simpson said...

I remember this issue. Thanks to Milford Poltroon, I believe for years for earwax really consisted of used up brain cells. My whole family grew up to be a bunch of psychos due to this piscatorial periodical.

DocAmazing said...

Mr. Bascom (I always knew him by his nom de péche Milford ("Stanley") Poltroon) had an office for the Wretched Mess News in the Montclair district of Oakland, California. I was a great fan of his stuff when I was eight or nine, and visited his office a couple of times. I credit his work for my current off-kilter sense of humor.