Thursday, July 26, 2012

Gene Ahern's Gimmick in The Squirrel Cage (1945)

Gene Ahern Thursday

A New Comic By The Master of The Squirrel Cage Every Thursday!

By 1945, Gene Ahern's surreal screwball epic, The Squirrel Cage delivered a comic gem practically every Sunday. Today's Gene Ahern Thursday offering, a page from the approximately 7-year long Foozland continuity, was pulled at random from my archives. A word about my archives... I live in a small apartment in Seattle and after 50 years of hoard--- um, I mean accumulating, I have a slight problem. I seem to have lost the path to my front door. I had a pretty good path cleared out in the hallways that are lined floor to ceiling with old comics, magazines, newspapers, and my vintage Kleen-Ex collection. However, a few nights ago, in the middle of the night, a piled collapsed, causing a domino effect that has basically created a cave-in. I'd really like to find my front door, because I need to get to my mailbox as I know several new orders of old comic strips have come in. In fact, I am usually much too busy tracking my auctions on eBay to have the time to re-stack my piles and open up the path to my front door. Anyway, I mention this because my food supply is dwindling, and if this blog suddenly cuts off, you'll know what happened.

A photo of my well-organized bathroom

Okay -- I'm pulling your leg -- in case you haven't figured that out already. Actually, my archives are neatly organized and stored in a walk-in closet and under my bed. I have about 5,000 strips and sunday pages that require only a few square feet of my living space. Clipped comic strips are actually very easy to store and do not require much space at all. In the drawer of the desk at which I presently working are a few hundred choice George Herrimans, Ving Fuller, and Jimmy Swinnertons, plus a run of Dinky Dinkerton -- just to give you a flavor. The above digression was merely a gimmick to entertain myself and my readers. Speaking of gimmicks, today's Squirrel Cage features an entertaining gimmick, as well -- but a bird of a different feather, as it were:

The Squirrel Cage by Gene Ahern - October 14, 1945

There are many great details to savor in this episode, which in some odd way seems to anticipate Chuck Jones' Roadrunner cartoons (which are also set in the surreal Herriman-like landscape). To cite just a few of my favorite details -- I love that a gimmick tastes like ham on rye. I also plan to use the line "Excuse me, I have to go take my fife lesson," at the next possible opportunity. Ahern always included some strange object with the Little Hitchhiker. In this episode, our tam-adorned mystery man has with him a large flower wreath, arranged to spell "suksess." I'm smiling and shaking my head...

And now, you must excuse me. I have to go take my fife lesson...

Yours in Screwball Suksess,
Paul Tumey

1 comment:

  1. Hello
    I am French, I live near Marseille, Provence.
    I appreciate your work on screwball comics, particularly Gene Ahern and the Squirrel Cage. Thank you to publish pages of this comic, magnificent masterpiece of surrealism and nonsense.
    Would you please tell me where I could get me one (or more) collections of The Squirrel Cage, if it exists?
    Best regards,
    Laurent Boudes
    mail adresse :