Cartoonist Russell Myers hit a huge home run in 1970 when he created Broom-Hilda, a very funny and rather surrealistic strip about a witch, a troll and a vulture. In the 80s, though, the strip seemed to sputter a bit, degrading from a mega-hit into a mere success. Myers reacted by offering a second strip through his syndicate, Tribune Media Services, called Perky and Beanz.
The new strip was much more down to earth than Broom-Hilda. It starred a precocious 8-year old girl who comes to live with her grandpa, Alphonse G. Beanz, a cantankerous retiree. Co-starring was a depressed dog, Yoyo and an assortment of neighborhood oddballs. The humor was of the tried-and-true clash of generations variety.
It was a pleasant enough strip, I suppose, but the problem I see is a mistake that seems to crop up on the comics pages over and over. Myers, who was pushing 50 when the strip was introduced, substitutes lame pop culture references for any real insight into the generation gap. In one week alone, for instance, there are gags about Motley Crue, the Garfield comic strip, Doctor Ruth and Calvin Klein jeans. There’s no actual wit involved, as if the references themselves are somehow intrinsically funny. They aren’t, and they smell of desperation. Yet the week of strips I’m referring to isn’t from well into the run on an off week for Myers, these are in the second week of the strip’s run!
The Myers name was enough to sell a few newspaper editors on the strip but not many. The Sunday and daily strip began on September 23 1985 and wore out its welcome in most papers pretty quickly. Myers’ home paper, the Chicago Tribune, in an unusual instance of showing solidarity with one of their creators, ran the strip for its full two year run, ending September 6 1987.