Obscurity of the Day: Encyclopedia Brown

Since we covered Can You Solve The Mystery? last week, it seems only fair that we also spend a day with its undeniable forebear, Encyclopedia Brown.

The Encyclopedia Brown book series began in 1963, written by Donald Sobol and illustrated by Leonard Shortall. The book series continues even today, though its heyday was in its first two decades when it was a favorite of kids who ordered the books at school through the Scholastic catalogues.

The comic strip series hit the market on December 3 1978 as a Sunday and daily strip distributed by Universal Press Syndicate. Sobol was given credit as the writer though the scuttlebutt is that Elliot Caplin actually wrote the scripts for this series. Frank Bolle was tapped to provide the art. Bolle was a strange choice given his slick illustration style, so different from Shortall’s folksy cartoon illustrations so associated with the book series.

The comic strip seemed mildly successful, but in the world of licensed characters that is seldom good enough. With the pie sliced thin for licensing fees apparently Encyclopedia Brown just wasn’t solving the mystery of making money in this venture. The series ended on September 20 1980, a bit shy of two years in syndication.

3 thoughts on “Obscurity of the Day: Encyclopedia Brown

  1. While Frank Bolle draws beautifully and I’m happy to see his artwork anytime, anyplace, in my mind Encyclopedia Brown will always be drawn by Leonard Shortall. No matter how good any of the other artists are who have drawn him, it’s just doesn’t have the same feel. Kind of like when “The Andy Griffith Show” went to color and lost Barney.

    Still, as I wrote, I’ll take any chance to see Frank Bolle’s work.

    PS to Jim Keefe: Love your Flash Gordon art. Comic Revue and Missing Years covers are great too!

  2. As a kid, I was a big fan of the book series. Next to comics, this was my favorite read back in the Day. I never even knew there was a comic strip based on the character until now.

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