Here’s a strip by Ed and Irma Nofziger; Ed did a lot of syndicated work and his best features always starred animals. Animal Antics and Animalogic, both panel cartoons, were his two most successful. Mildred, sort of a Little Iodine set in a zoo, was another of the Family Comics features that was advertised in E&P in 1960 as a standalone.
Here’s Hub Capps, the story of a good-hearted hot rod kid. This one’s a pretty good read, and the art is quite nice, too. The strip is credited to Jay Howard, which I’m assuming is a pen-name. This name was one of my clues, wrong as it turned out, that Norman Maurer was running the show at Family Comics, since he was married into the Three Stooges Howard family, and I seem to recall he used the Howard name occasionally on his work.
I don’t know who the artist is, but the art certainly does look familiar. I feel like I ought to be able to ID the artist just on the strength of panel three of the second strip. I know I’ve seen faces drawn that way many times. I can’t put my finger on it, but I keep thinking that this is an art style that I used to see in the old Charlton comic books a lot. Hopefully one of you folks can supply an ID.
Oh, and sorry about the selection of strips here. I didn’t realize until posting this that I’d scanned two strips that hardly have any appearance by the star of the strip.
Blooper Brown is by Andy Sprague, who has a syndication credit on the strip Honeybelle that had a respectable seven year run (1947-53). Looking at these Blooper Brown strips and the Doc Pipps strips from a few days ago, I have to revise my Henry Boltinoff ID on those as being more likely to be Andy Sprague. Of course, having everyone tell me I was wrong about Boltinoff helps some…
Now that we seem to have confirmation that Sponsored Comics was a Zeke Zekley operation, I guess it’s about time I showed his contribution to the section. Here Zeke adopts a style somewhat different than his McManus ghosting style. Excellent stuff, but I must admit that his McManus-derived style, with the thinner line, is my preference.
The Peachie Keen strip was another of those that were advertised in 1960 as a standalone feature.
As promised, here’s the second entry from Russ Manning to appear in Family Comics, Joshua Trust. This western is a much better showcase for Manning’s graphic skills, but oddly enough, he chose this one to pen pseudonymously as Cash Orcutt.
To follow up on yesterday’s discussion, I contacted R.C. Harvey and he has this to say:
Zeke’s operation was Sponsored Comics, but that, it seems to me, was the name of the company he ran. The quasi-Sunday comics section he manufactured was called, simply, “Comics.” The issue I have at hand (dated October 4-6, 1985) has strips by David Gantz (“Don Q”), frank Johnson, Dick Hodgins, Cass Herbert (looks like Ponytail stuff to me), Mutts (ha) by Greg Gilger, Orlando Busino, Frank Hill, Gill Fox, and some others. But no Norman Maurer, not that he’d be a contributor to his own publication—but why not? Anyhow, it’s not called Family Comics.
So now we have another confirmation that Zekley was behind Sponsored Comics, but Harvey is talking about a section from 1985, not 1959. Does anyone know anything else about this much later Sponsored production?
I received a pair of messages today that I’ll pass along. From Alberto Becattini:
Just a quick note on “Laura Good”. Whereas I don’t know who Veleri
was, I do know that the feature was inked by Ellis Eringer, an artist
who also inked Donald Duck syndicated strips and quite a lot of Disney
Comics produced by the Disney Studio for foreign consumption in 1963-
68. Another thing I seem to remember is that Zeke Zekley was involved in
the production of Family Comics, along with George McManus’s brother,
whose first name I can’t recall at the moment. Zekley was Geo.
McManus’s assistant/ghost on “Bringing Up Father” for decades (circa
And from Bob Foster:
Zeke Zekeley, famous for his art on Bringing Up Father, was the man behind Sponsored Comics. He had an office in Beverly Hills, and that may be the address for the office you’re talking about. Zeke knew a lot of cartoonists and artists in the animation business. A lot of those artists also did comic books and strips. The art that looks like Al Wiseman may, in fact, be that of Lee Holley (Ponytail) who worked in animation before becoming an assistant for Ketcham. Norman Maurer also worked in animation. The animation business is comprised of many names familiar to both animation buffs and comic strip fans alike. Such overlap includes Russ Manning, Willie Ito, Iwao Takamoto, Bob Singer, Norman Maurer, Lee Holley, Mike Ahrens, Moe Gollub, Tom Warkentin, Bill Lignante, Mel Keefer, Alex Toth, Dan Speigle, to name a few that come to mind.
McManus’ brother was Charles. Zekley was certainly in Beverly Hills, and did contribute to the section (his contribution has yet to be shown on the blog), so it’s definitely a possibility. I tried to interview Zekley once but was politely but firmly told no by his handlers, the guys who were selling his art. I think R.C. Harvey said once that he was going to, or did, interview him. I’ll check in with Harv. As for Lee Holley, unless he had vastly differing styles up his sleeve there’s no way he was responsible for Happy Days 1969. Thanks very much to both of you for your insights!
Here we go with one of the highlights of the Family Comics section. Laura Good is just a straight steal on Mary Worth, but the cartoonist is none other than the great Russ Manning. Manning, of course, is universally revered for his fantastic work on the Tarzan and Star Wars strips, not to mention the great comic book series Magnus Robot Fighter (one of my all-time favorite guilty pleasures).
Anybody know who this Veleri person is that gets a credit on the first strip?
If you’re disappointed to see Manning working on such a pedestrian offering, hold on because we haven’t seen the last of him in this section!
Pixie Puzzle Adventures will be familiar to some comic strip fans; as far as I can tell its the only feature in the Family Comics section that wasn’t created especially for it. This activity feature by Matt Curzon originally ran in the New York Herald-Tribune Sunday comics section from 1948 to 1956. The puzzles aren’t exactly Einsteinian in their complexity, but it is pretty neat how Curzon weaves them into a storyline.
I know nothing about Curzon except the tidbit, gleaned with a little Googling, that he contributed work to some of the early comic books in the mid to late 1930s.