Last batch of Wrigley Sunday comic ads today. First we have a nice jam page, published October 9 1926, with characters from the Katzenjammer Kids, Tillie the Toiler, Boob McNutt, Toots and Casper and Freddie the Sheik.
Next, a strip published November 14 1926 featuring one panel each of (in order) Russ Westover’s Tillie the Toiler, Knerr’s Katzenjammer Kids, Chic Young’s Dumb Dora, Freddie the Sheik by Jack Callahan, Harry Hershfield’s Abie the Agent, and Jimmy Murphy’s Toots and Casper.
Finally, bringing up the rear, we end with Pat Sullivan’s Felix, presumably ghosted, as always, by Otto Messmer. This one was published May 1 1927.
Thanks to Cole Johnson for the scans of all these great ads!
Oh, and if you’re wondering what in the world P.K. stands for, it’s Philip Knight Wrigley, son of William Wrigley the gum magnate. All together now …. awww, isn’t that sweet.
Courtesy of the Cole Johnson archives, we have with us for three days a series of Wrigley’s gum ads penned by the leading cartoonists of King Features. These ran in Sunday comics sections in 1926-27. We begin with the Katzenjammer Kids by H.H. Knerr (originally published March 14 1926) and Barney Google by Billy DeBeck (May 9 1926).
(By the way, I posted last week that Cole was being chased around by a surgeon with a knife. Well, the report is in; Cole was indeed carved up but came through the ordeal and is home again breathing those refreshing old newspaper fumes.)
Sunday, February 16 1908 — The Great White Fleet is underway from it’s last South American port of call, and headed up the coast to California. Every coastal city in California is clamoring to receive the fleet. Despite entreaties to President Roosevelt himself, the fleet will not moor at San Diego but outside the bay at Coronado. Navy officials are too worried that the fleet could be mired in muck in San Diego Bay. Angelenos are readying a big reception for the fleet themselves, though their arrival is still a long ways off.
The late 1960s to mid-70s was a time when ‘relevance’ tried its darnedest to invade the comic strips. Whether advancing a social or political agenda, young cartoonists all seemed to have Something Important to say. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but if all these relevant strips had been picked up by papers, it would have been like reading a page of a social studies textbook every day on the comics page. The key, of course, is to get your point across with humor. Doonesbury and Pogo were masterful at combining humor with relevant content, and Wee Pals, appealing to a less sophisticated demographic, got its point across with a smile.
Butter & Boop is an example of a comic strip that tended to forget that nagging problem of being funny. And no wonder — the comic strip was begun under the aegis of Black Light Inc., an inner city arts project that was sponsored by a do-gooder starch magnate (yes, there really is such a thing). The studio began in 1968 with a full complement of budding artists, but most drifted away until there were but two — Louis Slaughter and Edward J. Carr. For reasons that seem a little misty in the retelling, these two guys, who seemed to have basically no interest in comic strips, began producing Butter & Boop. With starch money buoying up the self-syndicated operation and a big-hearted magnate encouraging these guys to “tell it like it is”, a few papers were found to take the daily strip, which first appeared on May 15 1969.
The samples above are from two years into the run, and you’ll have to take my word for it that the quality of the strip had already improved by leaps and bounds. The early stuff is quite militant and pugnacious in its desire to ‘expose’ inner city life to suburban newspaper readers. Although that flavor is still there two years later, Slaughter and Carr were toning it down and trying to entertain a little instead of beating readers over the head.
It was at this point that they were able to interest McNaught Syndicate in distributing the strip. McNaught took over syndication on May 17 1971. Despite the marketing push of a major syndicate, the strip found few new takers. The fact that the strip was still a little on the rough side, and that the similarly themed Wee Pals was in its heyday were the probable obstacles. Butter & Boop was with McNaught for a bit over two years; they seem to have parted ways in August 1973. The creators commented later in a February 1974 Ebony feature article that they didn’t feel the syndicate did enough to market the strip and so they went back to self-syndication.
At that point the strip becomes really hard to find. Reading between the lines of the Ebony article the strip may have been down to two clients, the Kansas City Star and the Nashville Tennessean, neither of which I’ve had an opportunity to check. In the Ebony article, the creators seem to be saying that self-syndication was too much of a drain on their time and that if a syndicate couldn’t be found then Butter & Boop was not going to continue much longer. The last indication I find that it was running is a citation that the co-creators got a Lord Calvert Whiskey Men of Distinction award in 1975.