Farouk Has ‘Harold Teen’ To Console Him in Exile
A few weeks before his abdication from the throne of Egypt, former King Farouk requested and received a set of cards bearing drawings of characters in the “Harold Teen” comic strip, syndicated by the Chicago Tribune-New York News Syndicate under the pen of Carl Ed, the artist.
Like millions of American youngsters, Farouk collects cards that are distributed from time to time with candy cigarettes. A few years ago characters of the comic strips marketed by CTNYNS were stamped on cards distributed with candy bars manufactured by a Cambridge, Mass., candy company.
Lacking from Farouk’s collection was a set of “Harold Teen” cards, including Harold, Lillums, Shadow Smart, Pop Jenks and other characters.
In mid-June Farouk’s private secretary asked a collector in Bristol, England to supply the set for him. The collector did not have the set and forwarded the request to Col. Robert R. McCormick, editor and publisher of the Chicago Tribune. Col. McCormick turned the request over to the syndicate managers and Carl Ed. A set of cards was assembled and sent to Egypt. With them Mr. Ed sent two original drawings.
A note of thanks from Farouk was sent to Mr. Ed and the syndicate by H. Husny, the then king’s private secretary. Whether former King Farouk has taken his cartoon collection with him into exile, Mr. Ed hasn’t heard.
News and Notes
Prime Minister Nehru of India told the All-India Newspaper Editors’ Conference last week that he “couldn’t stand what are called comic strips. I am supposed to laugh, but I feel very gloomy.” He said he would “even pay money to escape from them.”
King Offers Sunday Page On Private Beetle Bailey
By Erwin Knoll 8/2/52
Private Beetle Bailey, who in the past year-and-a-half has safely entrenched himself as by far the most accomplished goldbrick in this man’s army, will perform his duty-shirking antics for Sunday readers too when King Features Syndicate launches a color page Sept. 14. Undertaken at the request of papers subscribing to the daily strip, the Sunday page will be available in tabloid, one-third and half-page regular sizes, and has already been signed by the American Weekly.
As in the daily strip, Sunday action will take place in and around the stateside training camp in which Private Bailey seems to be doomed to spend the rest of his army days, relieved only by an occasional home furlough. As before, the emphasis will be on army humor with primarily civilian appeal. And the theme will continue to be Private Bailey’s relentless war against standard operating procedure.
“Beetle Bailey” was launched by King two years ago as the nation’s only comic strip dealing exclusively with college life, featuring Beetle as B.M.O.C. (Big Man on Campus for the uninitiated.) With the beginning of mass inductions under the Selective Service law, it was decided to have Beetle join the colors, and immediately the strip’s popularity took an upward turn.
Fan mail indicates that wives, sweethearts and mothers clip the strip and forward it to servicemen, and reprint rights are often requested by camp newspapers. Teen-agers also seem to make up a large part of “Beetle Bailey’s” fan circle.
Creator of “Beetle Bailey” is Mort Walker, 28 and, of course, an ex-GI. He patterns Beetle and his buddies after some of his Kappa Sig fraternity brothers at the University of Missouri, where he edited the Missouri Showme, once described in these columns as the outhouse of journalism.
Walker, the son of an architect and a former newspaper illustrator, started drawing at the age of four, sold his first cartoon when he was 11. When he was 15 he drew a once-a-week comic strip called “The Limejuicers” for the late Kansas City Journal. A year later he was an editorial designer for Hallmark greeting cards.
In 1948, college and army service behind him, he came to New York and started selling gag panels to the Saturday Evening Post, Collier’s, This Week and other national magazines, and joined the top 10 cartoonists in the country in number of panels sold. It was in the pages of the Satevepost that he introduced the confused youth with hat perennially over his eyes who evolved into Beetle Bailey.
While turning out his daily strip and advance pages for the new Sunday feature Walker continues to hit the big magazines with gag panels regularly. And to keep busy he has just taken on the editorship of the Cartoonist, quarterly publication of the National Cartoonists Society.
Anyone who says Western comic strips are fading out—and some syndicate people have been saying just that in recent months —will find folks who strongly disagree with him up in the New York offices of general Features Corp. for General has just announced with much ballyhoo a new “Gene Autry” strip to be offered to newspapers this Fall, and executives at the syndicate confidently speak of building the strip into one of the nation’s top comic features.
But “Gene Autry” won’t rely on a Western story line alone for its audience appeal. In fact, the strip is something of an “all things to all men” proposition. It will feature, besides the cowboy angle, conventional airplanes, jets, rockets, guided missiles and such. The first sequence starts right off with a foreign agent’s episode complete with “beautiful mystery girl.” Gimlet, a bearded sidekick to the hero, provides comic relief. All sections of the comic strip audience seem to be provided for.
The strip has the magic of the Autry name, of course, and General Features expects to benefit from scads of tie-in promotion. Since Autry came to New York with his guitar and a ten-dollar bill 17 years ago, he has made more than 450 phonograph recordings with sales of 37,000,000 records; a network radio show has been on the air for 12 years; 32 television stations carry Gene Autry shows, and six full-length motion pictures have been produced this year. The aviation aspect of the strip will be promoted on the cowboy star’s personal appearance tours, for Autry, a World War II veteran of the Air Corps, pilots his own private plane. In addition, the Gene Autry label has about 60 product tie-ins.
The new strip is being produced for General Features by the Whitman Publishing Co., a division of Western Printing and Lithographing. Artist is Tom Cooke, a veteran of comic magazines, commercial art and the Marine Corps. A native New Yorker, Cooke now lives in Big Bear, Calif., where many of the Autry television productions are shot on location. Like Autry, Cooke is a qualified aviator. The strip will be written by Phil Evans, whose background includes free-lance writing, movie scripts, comic magazines and other strips.
“Gene Autry” is scheduled for Sept. 8 release as a six-a-week feature in four and five-column size. A Sunday color page is planned.
In a smoke-filled room in Darien, Conn., a deceptively mild-looking man named Walter Crawford Kelly, Jr., is grooming a dark-horse Presidential candidate. The candidate hails from the deep South—the Okefenokee swamp in Georgia, as a matter of fact—but he isn’t a Democrat. Nor a Republican either.
And though he hasn’t yet declared his intention to run, “Pogo for President” clubs are being formed all over the country and “I Go Pogo” buttons will soon be seen on every college campus.
Reason we mention all this at this time, besides the obvious political overtones, is the fact that Walt Kelly, who draws “Pogo” for Post-Hall Syndicate, has just been named outstanding cartoonist of the year by his colleagues in the National Cartoonists Society. The sixth annual Billy DeBeck Award, given in honor of the late creator of “Barney Google,” was presented to Mr. Kelly Wednesday night at the Society’s ANPA Convention dinner.
But to get back to politics, the “Pogo for President” movement seems to be here to stay. The strip, which in less than three years of syndication has built an impressive list of over 250 newspapers, has from the first found its greatest fans among the collegiate set, and it was on the campus that the Presidential boom began. Early this year political bids started showing up in Mr. Kelly’s ample fan mail—over 100 letters a week. And several weeks ago Mr. Kelly took formal note of the movement in a letter to some of his campus fans. The letter said, in part:
“It seems a lot of college people want Pogo for President. Nobody has made it clear what they want him President of, but presumably they don’t want him for President of Nicaragua or even of General Motors—though they are both nice outfits, no offense.
“What we have come up with is the suspicion that Pogo is in demand for the job of President of these United States. That is, no large party has come out for him unless you count a large party named Harold from Cornell, but many college groups have been demanding something tangible:
some sign, some word, a campaign button, a free trip to Europe. Anything that would indicate Pogo is available would do.”
Mr. Kelly has ruled out the free trip to Europe, but the campaign button is in the works. So far, requests for 50,000 buttons have been received.
Walt Kelly is no newcomer to the stresses and strains of a political campaign. In 1948, while working for the late New York Star as art director, political cartoonist and editorial advisor, he drew a series of devastating “mechanical man” cartoons of Governor Thomas E. Dewey, depicting the Republican candidate as an adding machine, a cash register, a tank, a music box and just about every other mechanical device. The cartoons received nationwide attention and were widely reprinted.
It was while working for the Star that Mr. Kelly, in his capacity as art director, directed himself to launch the daily “Pogo” strip. He took his cast of talking animals—they call themselves “nature’s screechers”—from a series of children’s comic books he had been doing since 1943. (Before that he had worked for Walt Disney Studios for six years.) He still does four “Pogo” comic books a year.
The new strip caught on with Star readers, but the paper didn’t stick around long enough to benefit. When the Star folded in January, 1949, the New York Post saw a good thing and took “Pogo” on. Several months later, Post-Hall Syndicate started distributing it nationally, and added a Sunday page. The list of papers hasn’t stopped growing since.
Editors who try dropping “Pogo” —several have made the attempt— invariably find the strip has an almost fanatic claque of fans, who usually succeed in getting it restored to the comics page. Mr. Kelly himself is at a loss to explain this great enthusiasm.
“I try to comment on the passing scene,” he says, “and get people to stop taking themselves and the world quite as seriously as they seem to be doing. It’s a good thing, these days, to make people relax and feel that there’s always tomorrow. The Okefenokee swamp, where Pogo and his friends live, is a land of its own, enabling readers to escape into another environment for a few seconds every day. But after all, these are things that so many comic strips try to do, and most of them succeed.”
Some of “Pogo’s” special appeal may be in the almost hypnotic weirdness of the dialogue, a synthesis of Elizabethan English, French, Negro and Indian dialects heavily interspersed with outrageous puns. Mr. Kelly is a student of languages and a former civilian employee of the Army’s Foreign Language Unit. The “Pogo” dialect is definitely not genuine Okefenokee talk, since Mr. Kelly has never been to the swamp country.
But “Pogo’s” main asset is undoubtedly the friendly satire which spares no institution from Mr. Kelly’s poison pun. His credo when he launched his cartooning career was: “I just want to be friendly and maybe make a buck at it.” At 38, Mr. Kelly seems to be succeeding pretty well on both counts.