Lancelot was introduced by the NEA syndicate on March 16 1970, back in the days when thoughtless, boorish husbands were apparently supposed to be funny. The newlyweds Lori and Lance are getting to know each others faults and foibles in the strip. Lance is an utter clod, while Lori is so in love that it barely registers. I can hardly imagine a more depressing strip — most every episode I read only makes me wonder how long this is going to go on before Lori divorces this loser. Well, the divorce never came but the strip ended on April 29 1972. I figure about two years had to be all Lori could stand of this guy, and readers were happy to see them go. Would have been kind of interesting to actually see comic strip characters go through a divorce, though … that would be a first! Maybe it would have started a trend — Jiggs divorces Maggie for physical cruelty, Loweezy divorces Snuffy for lack of support — hey, this starts to sound kind of interesting!
It’s too bad that the strip had such a stinker of a hook, because the team of artist Paul Coker, Jr. and writer Frank Ridgeway were certainly capable of excellent work.
Ridgeway had been at the art helm of Mister Abernathy, a King Features strip, since it began in 1957. Ridgeway took the pseudonym “Penn” to write Lancelot, presumably because King wouldn’t have wanted him moonlighting for a second syndicate. Good thing, though, because it meant he never had to take any public blame for Lancelot.
Paul Coker, Jr., a superb cartoonist with an instantly recognizeable style, was already a Mad magazine veteran with a strong following. He was also well-known to anyone who watches TV Christmas specials — Frosty The Snowman and other Rankin-Bass projects were blessed with his terrific character designs. His style was so widely copied in the 70s that it became cliché, hurting his later career. Like Adam West or Leonard Nimoy, he was a victim of his own popularity.