Ving Fuller

VING FULLER COMICS AND ARTICLES ON THIS BLOG

Syked Up For the Summer (3 summer-themed color Sundays!)

Doc Syke by Ving Fuller: A Prescription For Surreal Silliness (overview of Doc Syke and various Sundays)

Doc Syke Goes to the Dogs: 8-15-45 and 10-13- 45 dailies and 6-16-46 Sunday (found in dog-themed Screwball Sunday Supplement Vol.1 No.K9)

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Ving Fuller, circa 1940s
From A Third Face by Samuel Fuller (Alfred A. Knopf, 2002)
(Ir) Ving Fuller (1903-1965) was a master of screwball comics whose work, now mostly forgotten, is ripe for rediscovery. His career in comics spanned approximately 40 years, from the 20s to the 60s. If anyone today recalls his work at all, it's foo his long-running screwball Sunday/daily Doc Syke. 

Fuller worked mostly in newspaper comics, but he also placed numerous gag cartoons in magazines, put in a year as an animator at Bray Studios (1925-26), worked as a commercial artist, and sold a few stories to Sheldon Mayer ( a former assistant) at National/DC in 1944

Interestingly, Ving was the older brother of the famed film director, Samuel Fuller. Just as Sam Fuller was an original, iconoclastic artist in his films and writings, Fuller's cartoons represent a singular viewpoint and talent. In his life, he also appears to have been a strong personality, like his brother. Working within the highly restricted medium of the syndicated American newspaper comic strip, Fuller often subversively pushed the form of the humor gag strip to new areas, and to the outside limits of socially acceptable mainstream entertainment.

His comic art is offbeat, surreal, and deals with modern themes such as alienation, obsession, and compulsion. His comics often expose the fallacies of assumptions most of us make every day, delivering a laugh and a thought at the same time. He was unapologetically modern in his subject matter, creating humor from mental illness, not by picking on unfortunate sufferers, but pointing out that every human is mad in some way. In his late 1940s Doc Syke comics, he notably dealt with the absurdity of life with the atomic bomb. While his visual style is not immediately connected to the screwball tradition such as the loose scrawl of Milt Gross, his art perfectly delivers the gag and at times, is pure and well-done as Nancy by Ernie Busmiller.



Self-portrait on a 1928 Christmas card graciously supplied by a member of Fuller's family
(copyright and courtesy Ving Fuller family)



Self Portrait 1940s


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AN ILLUSTRATED CHRONOLOGICAL LIST OF VING FULLER COMICS

1927-29: Laffs In Today's News Dispatches (also called Laff-O-Graphics)
Daily strip. Graphic Syndicate. Started Feb-March, 1927. Ran at least until August 1929. Last strips in 1929 done by Matt Green. (Sources; Allan Holtz, American Newspaper Comics, my collection culled from microfilm scans)


June 29, 1929 (from microfilm archives)

Source: Allan Holtz, Stripper's Guide

Early cartoon 1920s - original art courtesy Heritage Auctions


1934: The Original Boop-Boop-A-Doop Girl
Sunday strip. New York Mirror. Started August 5. Ended Oct 21. The first Betty Boop comic, which was actually the fictional adventures of Helen Kane, who voiced (and resembled) the character of Betty Boop. Fuller did the first few pages in the run (verified until August 26 for sure - Andy Madura writes that his copy of Sept 23 is not by Fuller). Writing is attributed to Helen Kane, but very likely Fuller wrote as well as drew this delightfully screwball comic. The exact dates of his involvement are still being researched.  See Allan Holtz's article for more information. (Source: Allan Holtz, American Newspaper Comics)



Fuller wrote and drew the first Betty Boop comic. Above page is the first in the run from August 5, 1934
(source:  Stripper's Guide and Allan Holtz)


August 12, 1934

Ving Fuller spot art - Miami Daily News November 24, 1934
Did Ving leave the Betty Boop comic to become a syndicate cartoon illustrator?

1939-1940: Elza Poppin
Daily strip. King Features Syndicate. Started June 19, 1939. Fuller's last strip is dated January 6, 1940. Fellow screwball master George Swanson took over from January 8, 1940 to strip's end on April 29, 1944. Writing attributed to film and stage screwball comedians Olsen and Johnson, but very likely Ving Fuller wrote as well as drew the strip. Ving used the catchphrase "go fry ice!" in the comic. For more examples and information, see my article, Go Fry Ice! Ving Fuller's Zany Elza Poppin. (Sources: Allan Holtz, American Newspaper Comics, my own collection culled from various microfilm sources)




1942 (circa): Olive Drab
Information and exact dates on this strip is unknown. The title is not listed in Alan Holtz's American Newspaper Comics. May have been published in a military paper (Holtz's encyclopedia does not list comics in local or military papers). Source: ebay.

Unknown strip by Fuller - original art scan taken from ebay 

1944-45: J. Rufus Lion (D.C. Comics)
Ving drew, and possibly wrote a J.Rufus Lion story (unsigned) in three issues of the Sheldon Mayer edited  quarterly comic, Funny Stuff. Mayer worked as an assistant to Ving Fuller between 1932-35 (according to the online cartoon encyclopedia Lambiek.net). These are the only known published comic book stories by Ving Fuller.

Funny Stuff #2 (Fall 1944)
Funny Stuff #3 (Winter 1944)
Funny Stuff #4 (Spring 1944)


from Funny Stuff #3 - although unsigned, the art is clearly by Ving Fuller

1940's: various magazine cartoons



Brother Sam Fuller's biography, A Third Face, mentions the above cartoon and what a joy it was to see it
printed when he was fighting on the front lines in WWII. The page above has a cartoon by Sam Fuller showing
the momentous occasion. Sam loved and admired his older brother Ving. (From A Third Face by Samuel Fuller (Alfred A. Knopf, 2002))

1945-1960: Doc Syke
(also called Doc, Doc and the Gimmick, Little Doc)
Sunday/Daily strip. Daily started January 8, 1945.Sunday started Jan 14, 1945. End date unknown, circa 1960. This obscure screwball classic was handled by four different syndicates:

Jan 8, 1945 - Aug 31, 1946: McClure Syndicate
Sept 2, 1946 - 1948: Bell Syndicate
1949- Oct 30, 1949: United Features Syndicate
Oct 31, 1949 - 1960?: Ving Features Syndicate (Sunday dropped and strip became Little Doc)
(Sources: Allan Holtz, American Newspaper Comics, my own collection, various microfilm sources)

"Ving had more syndicates than strips." - Ron Goulart, quoting Fred Lasswell

Envelope addressed to Fuller from fellow cartoonist Billy DeBeck (Barney Google)


Doc Syke dailies from Feb 1945
Doc Syke Sunday - June 25, 1946



August 4, 1946 - original art


The humor in Doc Syke was uniquely Ving's - from Sept 21, 1947


Doc Syke reprint in Tip Top 159 - A surreal and deliciously offbeat holiday entry.
Tip Top reprinted comics from United Features and had one Doc Syke
per issue somewhere in #'s 140-180 (exact issues unknown).

Little Doc strips from 1952.
Ving Fuller was perhaps the most opportunistic screwball master.
When  Charles Shulz's Peanuts became a hit, Fuller re-vamped
his Doc Syke to hitch a ride on Sparky's star. Despite the derivative
presentation, the humor is still screwball.

2 comments:

  1. These comics are mighty cool; I especially liked the Little Doc comics, particularly the one about the toy gun("Mom." LOL!)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks, iheart! I agree that the gag for the Little Doc "pop" gun strip is pretty swell!

    ReplyDelete