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. 

1 comment:

James Conder said...

These are great. I have a Learn to Draw Cartoons book by Paul Robinson from sometime in the 60s.