Friday, August 31, 2012

Bill Holman's Gilded Cage: The Pre-Smokey Strip, Junior (1923-31)

Here's a look at Bill Holman's pre-Smokey Stover kid humor comic strip, Junior. The daily strip (there were no Sundays) ran from May 28, 1923 to 1931 and was distributed by the New York Tribune syndicate*. Junior was also called Gee Whiz, JuniorJunior Wise Quacks and just Wise Quacks. Smokey came along about 4 years after Junior folded.

Holman wrote and drew Junior for about eight years. Today, the strip is largely forgotten, probably because it is nowhere near as funny or screwball as Smokey Stover. It's a well-crafted comic strip, but for anyone familiar with the madcap Smokey Stover, it's a huge let down to read the dull Junior comics. Basically, Junior was an average kids strip, with only the occasional indication of the flood-tide of wackiness to come in Holman's later comics.

Here's three examples, in poor microfilm quality, from 1924, when the strip was not even a year old. You'd be hard-pressed to identify it as the work of Bill Holman at first glance, because it's a surprisingly straight pitch, and not screwball at all.

January 30, 1924

February 1, 1924

February 2, 1924

Holman appears to have based his character on the successful comic Smitty by Walter Berndt, which started about six months prior to Junior, in November, 1922*. Here's a Smitty from the 1920s that shows the marked similarity in character design, although Smitty had some continuity and was a much better read.

Junior appears to have been kind of gilded cage for Holman. It's entirely likely that the New York Tribune syndicate asked Holman to create a strip like Smitty, which was owned by their rival, the Chicago Tribune - New York News syndicate. Holman had a big time syndicated strip, and he probably made decent money... but he was as suited for drawing a charming daily kid's gag comic as Salvador Dali was for painting Saturday Evening Post covers.

At least, as time went on, Holman developed his characteristic pen technique, with expert hatching,  and perfectly spotted blacks.

Junior's only merit comes in the occasional surreal gag and in the extra pun-filled panel comic, Wise Quacks, that Holman added, in Rube Goldberg fashion, at some point. In 1930, Holman's puns are in prose form. The genius of Smokey Stover is that, five years later, Holman shifted to delivering a tsunami of puns in visual form. Junior and Wise Quacks are basically Smokey Stover with the wacky dial on 1 instead of 11.Here's a series of Junior dailies from 1930, late in the strip's run. These are paper scans from my own collection.

You'll note that the Friday, June 6 strip is given over to all Wise Quacks. At least in 1930, if not earlier, Holman did this every Friday. The Friday Wise Quacks foreshadows the jam-packed screwballism of Smokey Stover, and we see Holman playing with little visual puns in the panels.

Here's a couple more Juniors that have a touch of surreal madness in them, anticipating the fun to come!

After Junior took his toys and went home, Holman embarked on a very successful career as a free-lance magazine cartoonist for about four years. Then, he heard that a syndicate (Smitty's syndicate, actually - the Chicago Tribune - New York News syndicate) was looking for a new strip about a fireman, and he had an idea that finally let the screwball dogs out! But that's another story, one which is told in my article The Birth of Smokey Stover - First Puffs 1935.

Quackin Up and Duckin',
Paul Tumey
*American Newspaper Comics- An Encyclopedic Reference Guide by Allan Holtz, 2012, University of Michigan Press

Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Surrealism of Everyday Life: Ahern's Room and Board

I am convinced that Ahern meant for Room and Board and The Squirrel Cage to be read together, as an ongoing conversation about form, fantasy versus reality, and the surprising pliability of linear narrative. It also seems likely that Ahern, who lived just outside the hills of Hollywood, CA experimented in the 1940s with various substances, opening what Aldous Huxley famously called "the doors of perception."

Gene Ahern is mostly forgotten. If anyone recalls his work at all today, they think of  gentle, character-driven humor panels about eccentric characters in a stuffy, dingy boarding house that seems to be perpetually stuck in the 1920s. In other words, if there's any perception about Ahern's work at all, it's usually an association with old-fashioned, and rather dull comics. That is certainly the opinion I had in my mind until I actually started to read his work. In fact, I must confess that I had no idea that the mediocre, mildly amusing Our Boarding House comics I grew up reading in the 1960s and 70s were not even by Ahern, who died in 1960.

The rediscovery of Gene Ahern's work is certainly one of the prime missions of this blog and my book project, as is the rediscovery of the forgotten work of other screwball masters such as Milt Gross,Ving Fuller, George Swanson, and -- as incredible as it may seem -- the famous but misunderstood Rube Goldberg, who was as weird and brilliant from 1910-1930 as Winsor McCay and George Herriman, if not more so at times.

Even though he created a huge hit with Our Boarding House, which ran for 65 years, Ahern only worked on the series for 15 years, from 1921 to 1936 (source: American Newspaper Comics, Allan Holtz). In 1936, he was lured away from the NEA syndicate to the Hearst-owned King Features Syndicate, where he created a copy of his hit strip, called Room and Board (or sometimes Board and Room).

Despite all appearances and expectations, Ahern's boarding house comics are filled with surreal humor. The only similar body of work in American culture to Ahern's middle-class screwballism would be the films of W.C. Fields, which surely must have been at least a sideways inspiration to Ahern.

Like Gene Ahern, W.C. Fields kept a steady stream of surrealism in his work,
such as in this scene from International House (1933)

But enough scholarly gabbing. Let's get to da comics! Here's two stand out examples of Ahern inserting knockout screwball surrealism into Room and Board. In both examples, there's a nod to Winsor McCay's Little Nemo in Slumberland, with the dreamer waking up in bed in the last panel.

An especially surreal Room and Board by Gene Ahern - October 10, 1943

I recently had the pleasure of viewing the original art to the above strip, which is in the collection of Carl Linich. I was struck by how rigid the line and forms in the strip are, which provide containment for the wacky screwball humor.

This next dream comic is one of my all-time favorites.

A screwball Judge Puffle dream with a nod to Rube Goldberg and Little Nemo - June 23, 1946

The translation of the Eskimo's speech in the next-to-last panel is almost certainly a lift, and a tribute, to one of Ahern's prime artistic mentors, Rube Goldberg. Goldberg populated his comics with such nonsense words as the Eskimo's speech here, and then offered us translations in the exact same manner as we see in this panel. In 1926, Rube even built new character around this device, the delightful Bertha The Siberian Cheesehound:

The first Bertha topper strip (from the collection of Carl Linich)
Of course, Ahern built The Squirrel Cage around the nonsense language of the Little Hitch-hiker, whose constantly uttered ultimate question, "Nov shmoz ka pop?" remains untranslated to this day.

The question of all questions was never translated, or answered,
in Gene Ahern's surreal comic masterpiece, The Squirrel Cage

In the last panel of the 1946 Room and Board, Judge Puffle mentions "welsh rarebit." This is a nod to Winsor McCay's famous comic Dreams of the Rarebit Fiend. Years ago, driven by my curiosity, I found a recipe for welsh rarebit (in the fabulously eccentric and wonderful book Bull Cook and Other Historical Recipes by George Leonard Herter), and made up a batch. It's basically beer-soaked cheese toast -- and, although I didn't have any wild dreams, it certainly is a rich repast to digest.

I love how, in the last panel, the boarder blows a soap bubble that encompasses his own head. The soap bubble resembles a speech balloon, and in Magritte-fashion, Ahern has created a masterful surreal self-reference.

Whether readers of 1946 caught any of Ahern's references to the great comics of the previous generation, or appreciated the brilliance of his verbal and visual meta-references and puns, is a matter for speculation. I have yet to find a critical appreciation of his work from the 1940s that shows a full understanding of the work, but I suspect that readers back then were probably more sophisticated than we would like to believe.

Zoogle blam offle wok*,
Paul Tumey

*Translation: "till next time fellow screwballists,"

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

A Screwy Rube Goldberg Daily From 1916

Here's a fabulously screwball Rube Goldberg daily comic from 1916. The first classic Rube Goldberg chain-reaction invention cartoon appears to have been published sometime in 1914. However, Rube had been inserting wacky inventions into his dailies as early as 1910, and today's 1916 comic is a great example of Rube satirizing inventions and fads in a daily strip.

This example comes from the collection of Carl Linich (thanks Carl!). I recently had the chance to pore over Carl's collection of 1916-17 Goldberg dailies. I was struck at first by the sheer enormity of these comics -- they are 14 inches wide and 6.5 inches tall! You could fit 8 of today's daily comic strips into one of these beauts!

I was also struck by how creative Rube was at this point in his career. He was at a creative peak, one of many he would reach in his 58-year career in comics. This early peak, with the extreme confidence and high-flying inspiration makes sense when you think about his path up to 1916. He started out as a rank amateur on a paper in San Francisco in 1904. By 1908, he moved to across the country to New York City, with no job offer in hand. It was a bold move and a big risk. Rube finally landed a job at the New York Evening Mail and in a couple of years became one of the top cartoonists. By 1916, he was firmly established, and his cartoons were being published in other newspapers. He was making an astonishing $50,000 a year. I've read that the whole idea of comic strip syndication came about because papers in other cities clamored to run Rube's dailies. His comics were sort of the Saturday Night Live or Colbert Report of their day.

Here, we see Rube satirizing the fad of drinking pure water. In the second panel, we get a classic overly-complex Rube Goldberg contraption for distilling water. Rube also had a great gift for making up nonsense words that were the verbal equivalents of his wacky visuals. In the comic below, we get to see the doctor pompously utter that "'ve got nine kinds of typhoid germitis of the appazoodiks."

A typically brilliant and screwy Rube Goldberg daily - February 16, 1916
(from the collection of Carl Linich)
One of the remarkable things about Goldberg's dailies was that he had no set pattern. He was comic's first, and greatest general humorist. For decades, there was something new and different from Rube every day. He did have little series that he would repeat as inspiration struck. The above comic is from a series called It's All Wrong. There would be a different name in the title each time: "It's All Wrong, Mendelssohn, " or "It's All Wrong Johnson," and so on.

With a Rube Goldberg daily, you really got your money's worth, since he would also throw in a panel cartoon that often had great gags. Here, we see one of his many panel series, I Never Thought Of That.

It's incredible to think that, during 1916, Rube not only made one of these a day -- and some of the other dailies in Carl's collection are quite elaborate -- but he also drew the many thousands of images needed to make seven animated cartoons (The Boob Weekly) by hand! As if that weren't enough, Rube also courted and won the hand of Irma Seeman, whose father owned the White Rose Tea and Grocery empire. Rube was lucky enough to have Irma for his wife for the rest of his life. It would appear that, for Rube Goldberg -- screwball master and creator of the It's All Wrong series, 1916 was all right!

Note: in typical fashion, I'm publishing a Rube Goldberg Tuesday on a Wednesday. I'm having a very busy period but will get back onto the daily track soon!

With Locus of the Croakus,
Paulapius Tumecus

Monday, August 13, 2012

The Escalated Hypocrisy of Milt Gross' Count Screwloose

Milt Gross had several dynamics in his humor. One was the comedy of escalation, in which he kept increasing the conditions of a situation to ridiculous extremes. Another dynamic Gross employed is the humor of hypocrisy, in which he draws laughter from the difference between what people say and what they actually do. Gross built an entire strip, Banana Oil (daily 1923-25, Sunday 1926-30) on the latter dynamic In today's comic, a large, cleaned up 300 dpi paper scan from my own archives, Milt puts both of these dynamics into play.

Escalation occurs when the protagonist of this episode, as observed by the Count, has to deal with one crazy interruption after another. Neckties and insurance are silly enough, but a picture on a pony is pretty screwy!

The hypocrisy sets in when we see that our guy was very patient and allowing of the interruptions at the office, but when his son asks him a simple question at home, he explodes with comic rage, destroying his home and spanking his child. Gross -- a dedicated and loving father -- shows us how NOT to be a Dad. At the end, the Count and Iggy play pool at Nuttycrest with veggies and a broom. Along the way, we meet a host of odd and entertaining characters. I ask you, does it get any better?

The comedy of escalation and the humor of hypocrisy are the foundations for a superb Milt Gross screwball comic
January 18, 1931 (from the collection of Paul Tumey)

The first panel is Milt Gross' version of the classic Rube Goldberg chain-reaction invention cartoon. Gross did a few of these in 1931.

I don't know if he and Rube were friends, but I do know that Gross looked up to Rube and was heavily influenced by him. The doctor in this comic is straight outta Rube Goldberg casting...

And, just for fun, here's a couple of close ups of cartoons from today's Milt Gross Monday comic that show Milt's endless inspiration for drawing funny people. What makes these work is that these aren't just drawings... these characters have their own agendas and motivations -- they think they are real!

Well gang, sadly I must inform you that this will probably be the only post I can manage this week and next. I am still eyebrows-deep in a screwball comics related project that is claiming most of my time. In a week or so, I am flying from Seattle to New York City to work lend a hand on an exciting new  Rube Goldberg book by Jennifer George -- Rube Goldberg's grand-daughter and Director of Rube Goldberg, Inc. My fellow screwball scholar, Carl Linich will also be helping out on this book, and I'm looking forward to meeting him in person! There is much prep work to be done this week, including a mountain of scanning and so I have to give my usual "blog time" to this new project for a couple of weeks. Around all this, I am still running Presentation Tree and being a single father during summer vacation - phew! I hope you'll kindly forgive the infrequent August postings, knowing that my energies are contributing in a very small way to help create a cool new book on a screwball master!

Please browse around the older articles you may have missed -- there is already a lot of good reading material on this blog.

A lot more Milt Gross comics you can only find on this blog (new scans from my archive of paper originals) are posted here.

And please spread the word about this blog -- Screwball Comics, Now More Than Ever!

Flip-takingly Yours,
Paul Tumey

Monday, August 6, 2012

Three Magnificent Milt Gross Messterpieces

On vacation till August 13

I am eyeballs-deep in an exciting screwball-related project  which I hope someday to share with you. Because of that, I will be taking a week off from my daily posting.

If you are jonesing to read more screwball comics, I suggest you troll through the artist pages I've put up. There's links at the top and right hand side of this page. I have stuffed many of these pages with additional items of interest, including many rare comics. Most recently I completely overhauled the Ving Fuller page . You'll find a lot of interesting material unavailable anywhere else.

This is also a great time to browse the 60+ articles on screwball masters that I have posted on this blog so far. Here's some articles I'm especially proud about that you may have missed:

The Elements of Screwball Comics

The Snoremonica: They Laughed When I Went to Bed

Comic Strips Are Frozen Words: A Full Page of 1937 Ahern Screwball Goodness

Stuck on the Enchanted Flypaper - Snapshots of Foozland

In the meantime, here's not one, but TREE spectacular Milt Gross screwball comics to tide you over! Enjoy!

November 30, 1930

December 7, 1930

December 14, 1930
The Carter Family: Don't Forget This Song

Announcement! Last night, my talented pal Frank Young (curator of the amazing Stanley Stories blog) dropped by with a copy of the brand new graphic novel - The Carter Family: Don't Forget This Song. Frank co-authored this stunning book with the super-gifted David Lasky. The folks at Abrams ComicArts have done a stellar job of making this book a beautiful hardcover treasure, complete with a CD of music! Being an author, Frank got his copy early. The book will be out in October, and can be pre-ordered on Amazon. I think this will be one of the outstanding graphic novels to date -- a meticulously researched and impeccably crafted telling of the story of the first family of country music that is historically and emotionally authentic -- and fun to read!

See ya next week, Iggy!

-~ Paul Tumey

Friday, August 3, 2012

Smokey Stover Original Art Reveals the Slow Fanning of Bill Holman's Masterpiece

Smokey Stover Fireday!

A New Bill Holman Smokey Stover every Friday!

Continuing our Original Art Week, here's some various originals of Smokey Stover comics by Bill Holman. In studying Holman's originals, we can see that his style develops over a period of several years. We can also see, in his mature work, that his form follows his intended function. His art is as jam-packed with inking technique as his content is overstuffed with gags, wordplay, and visual puns. Holman had a steady, sure hand with a brush and pen. We forget that Holman wrote and drew a syndicated daily strip (Junior) for seven years before he started Smokey. As if that weren't enough, Holman also accomplished a successful career as a magazine gag cartoonist for another seven years between Junior and Smokey. He had plenty of time and motivation to refine his art for commercial reproduction purposes. By the time he started Smokey in 1935, Holman had a great deal of technique and expertise under his firehat. Check out this original from the 3rd month of the strip:

Smokey Stover by Bill Holman - June 2, 1935 (original art)

About eight months later, Holman has refined his style a little more. The panels are more visually dense. His lettering is exactly the same style he used in his 1924-31 daily strip, Junior.

Smokey Stover by Bill Holman - Feb. 9, 1936 (original art)

And now, here's a Smokey in full flame, from about 12 years later, from Independence Day, 1948. This is the most famous and appreciated style of the strip, a patchwork quilt of humor and surrealism. When you study the original art, you can truly appreciate the craft that Holman developed over many years to be able to create these compressed bouillon cubes of screwballism every week, and make it look easy. The "high style" of Smokey Stover represents a conscious accumulation of techniques.

Note that this 1948 comic's topper (on the bottom - the Spooky strip) has the same "BAM!" panel as the 1936 strip -- a July 4 comic would, of course, need a BAM. Also note the paste-over in the second panel of Spooky.

Smokey Stover by Bill Holman - July 4, 1948

Thanks foo reading!

Ask not what your foo can do for foo, but what foo can foo foo foo,
Paul Foomey

Thursday, August 2, 2012

A Stunning Squirrel Cage Original in the 1939 Merlin Continuity

Gene Ahern Thursday

As part of our Original Art Week, we present a stunning, large scan of a Gene Ahern original Squirrel Cage. This scan is generously supplied by the owner of the art -- thank you!

This episode is from the 1939 Merlin continuity. Starting January 8, 1939, and continuing through approximately the first half of the year, this sequence was Ahern's first sustained exploration of the possibilities of deriving comedy from magic. A few years later, when he started the 7-year long Foozland continuity, he built an entire world around the tropes of magic and fantasy.

In short, the continuity starts when our two inventors have become so annoyed with the constant presence of the tam-adorned, busy-bearded hitchhiker in their neighborhood that they have begun to plot ways to rid themselves of his presence. A magical wizard, dressed for the part in robe and pointy hat,  knocks on their door and offers his services. Here's the first episode of the Merlin continuity in The Squirrel Cage, from digitized microfilm:

The first Merlin episode of The Squirrel Cage - January 8, 1939

Things do not proceed as planned (of course), as we see in the next episode:

The second Merlin episode of The Squirrel Cage - January 15, 1939

And we're off the races. The Little Hitch-hiker (as the characters refer to him) now has the magic wand and all heck is breaking loose. Ah, but Merlin has another magical resource: a jar of magic sand...

The third Merlin episode of The Squirrel Cage - January 22, 1939

As you might imagine, the Little Hitch-hiker effortlessly triumphs at every turn as Ahern brilliantly spins out this continuity over the next few months. And now, here's our original art piece, from about 6 months later:

Original art for The Squirrel Cage by Gene Ahern - July 16, 1939

This is a particularly brilliant episode, with some choice additional nonsense words from the Hitch-hiker:

Spersk shmal voosh!

Gomma wask!

Spol dooka!

Apparently, Merlin has moved in with the inventors as he tries for months to get his wand and magic sand back from the Little Hitch-hiker. Exhausted and nerve-wracked, he decides to go fishing. On the way out, he hurls an angry insult at the Little Hitch-hiker and suffers the consequences. 

Here is the page panel by panel, with larger scans of the art. In this format, you can clearly see Ahern's penciling under-layer in blue. For those that don't know, this shade of blue was not picked up in the printing process, and so many artists drew in "non-repro blue" to save themselves the chose of erasing their pencils. As we see here, it appears that Ahern didn't stray much at all from his original penciled conception, although he adds a great deal of fun detail in his inking.

Here we see the logo of the strip is pasted in from a photostat -- a very common practice. There are discolorations from the glue or tape used.

What an insult -- and what stupidity! The Little Hitch-hiker has both the magic wand and the jar of magic sand. One ought not to mess with a hitchiker who has magical powers!

I love the ungainly flying bird in this panel...

The tree/mushroom and the jar in this panel are Herrimanesque...

The next 3 panels are wordless and beautifully depicted as a visual sequence. We are "hooked" as we wonder what the Little Hitch-hiker is up to. Love dat old-style diving suit.

It slays me that we get a blurble of the Hitch-hiker's mysterious language underwater. Look at how Ahern draws the speech bubble as bubbles... a sort of in-joke.

In this panel you can clearly see the "slug," which is the pre-printed copyright strip pasted in. The glue used to paste it in has yellowed over the years.

The brilliant meta payoff and Ahern reminds us that comics are just lines on paper... "is there no end to it?"

And... bingo... a return back to the eternally baffling and funny catchphrase -- so great!

 I hope you enjoyed this wonderful opportunity to savor the original art of a screwball master!

Spersk va gomma,
Tall Pumey

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The Mild Screwballism of Russ Johnson's Mr. Oswald Hardware Comics

Mixed Nuts Wednesday

Russ Johnson's Mr. Oswald is one of my all-time favorite obscure comics. Continuing with our Original Art Week theme, here's a gallery of originals that are great fun to read, all from the collection of  Rob Stolzer, who conducted a great interview with Johnson that was published in Hogan's Alley, and which can be read online here.

Russ Johnson was a sort of real life $alesman $am. He actually owned and operated a hardware store in Vermont. For a jaw-dropping 62 years, Russ also wrote and drew Mr. Oswald,  a jam-packed, slightly screwball, highly intelligent comic about hardware retailing that was regularly published in a trade magazine called, appropriately enough, Hardware Retailer.

Admittedly, Mr. Oswald may be the least screwball comic to be published so far in The Masters of Screwball Comics. That being said, it does actually have a mild screwball sensibility, with patterns of escalation, dense visuals, and a wry humor that belies the stiff competency of the drawing. 

You wouldn't think that reading a regular comic about selling hardware would be much fun, but in Johnson's hands it's deeply compelling. He has a sort of Carl Barks approach, with logical story structures and rock solid drawings of a seemingly endless supply of objects. There's a Barks Halloween story in which he depicts bags of candy and treats with such absorbing detail that I studied those panels for hours when I was a kid. Similarly, Johnson's panels offer us a plethora of objects and details to study. While he rarely drops in a background gag, as George Swanson does in $alesman $am (another strip set in an overcrowded general hardware type store) Johnson's drawings add the same level of intensity and compression to his comics that we find in some other screwball comics. Russ even created inventory books in which he meticulously drew every item in his store... this was a guy who loved drawing objects!

Russ Johnson's Mr. Oswald is stuffed with background details in the best screwball tradition

Russ Johnson holding an original of his
great Mr. Oswald comic
(photo by Rob Stolzer)
Besides the Barksian detailing, Johnson also creates a rich cast of characters and invests every strip with conflict, the fuel that drives every story forward. Mr. Oswald is hard-working, but comically grumpy and driven by human weaknesses -- he's a surprisingly complex character for a trade journal comic strip. It's good reading, folks.

There's an undercurrent in Mr. Oswald that tells us life can often be pretty chaotic and nutty, filled with curve (or screw) ball picthes. Johnson flowed the eccentricities and frustrating craziness of his world into his comic -- it was probably what kept him sane. This is very similar to Rube Goldberg's comics, which revolve around the theme of inanity on everyday life.

I first discovered the arcane joys of Mr. Oswald when I read a small article in an early issue of The Comics Journal in the early 1980s. The article announced that Russ had copies available of a small press collection of his comics -- and it sounded fascinating to me. I could tell by the way the writer gushed that this could be good stuff. As luck would have it, just days after reading the article, I unearthed a copy of the book, Forty Years With Mr. Oswald (National Hardware Retailing Association, 1968) in the backroom of Jelly's, the huge legendary comic book/trading card/gaming/CD/toy/book store that I helped manage in Honolulu, Hawaii. I took the book home, read it, and feel in love with the world of selling small objects to crazy people. I could really identify with the comic, since I worked in retail, too. I'm sure that Mr. Oswald was a powerful tonic for hundreds of folks working the front lines of retail.

My much-loved copy of this great book
My copy, now tattered and read to death, has a Russ Johnson drawing on the flyleaf, unfortunately smeared, but still a treasure:

Russ Johnson's hand-drawn inscription in my copy of his book

I've only seen 3 copies of this book in my life -- and I go to a LOT of bookstores. However, currently, someone is selling a copy on Amazon for about $30, which is a bargain since this book has a ton of comics and holds up to re-reading, quite well.

But the book, as generous a collection as it is, just scratches the surface. What we have here is a treasure trove of great comics, most of which have never been reprinted and are next-to-impossible to find. I have spent years searching for back issues of  Hardware Retailer to no avail. The search goes on. Someday, someone will get a pile of these great comics together and share them with the world.

When I wrote Stolzer and asked his permission to reprint these scans in my blog, he responded: "Absolutely. Please share, share, share any of Russ's art. The more who know about him the better." That's the sort of appreciation and devotion that these comics can inspire.

With Rob Stolzer's blessing, here's a gallery of scans of Mr. Oswald comics from the originals. Enjoy!

Your Grumpy Neighborhood Screwball Retailer,
Paul Tumey