My brother and I were talking recently about all the great reprint projects that have been happening, and how many old cartoonists are being discovered by new fans. Even old-timers like us have new favorites! Five years ago I had no idea who FletcherHankswas. I didn't know Dan Gordon's name, but had enjoyed some of his unsigned work in books I had bought. And there were many artists like Boody Rogerswhom I had heard of but never saw much of their work. I just learned about Jimmy Thompson's Robotman comics about a month ago!
With all the great comic book reprints scheduled (Milt Gross, Dick Briefer, Basil Wolverton, Jack Cole, EC artists, Archie artists, etc), I think it's only a matter of time before we get some sort of archival set of Sheldon Mayer's various works for DC Comics. Scribbly and Sugar and Spikeare no-brainers, but thanks to Gabriel's recent posts at Joyville, I think Mayer's funny animal comics need to be collected as well. I think full-color trade paperbacks (similar to the Superman Chroniclesand Batman Chronicles) of Mayer's various titles would be ideal, especially given the volume of the work being discussed here.
In Mayer's NCS bio, he writes that he "resigned editorial directorship [from National/DC Comics] in 1948 to do a "novel" in comic book form..."Scribbly", the kid who wants to be a cartoonist. Had fun with it until 1950." On the surface, some of these stories look like just another entry in the "teen comedy" genre. But Mayer energizes these stories with his dynamic drawing; the body language, facial expressions, and physical comedy give the stories an animated look that would continue to serve him well in Sugar and Spike. These characters are rarely at ease...and when they move, they move fast!
Here are two stories from Scribbly #3 (Dec-Jan 1948):
Hey, Doug! Thanks for linking!
I'm afraid you're not the only one who's discovering such artists. There's a good handful of them I had never heard about (or I had hardly seen some stories here and there). Hanks was for me a total disclosure! And Jimmy Thompson... I didn't even know him. I think we owes a lot to this digital era, which has driven to the publishing houses edit this terrific material. Anyway, I hope to see Mayer's works on stands someday in a not distant future. As you well say, it's only a matter of time. He's a top-quality cartoonist beyond all doubt.
By the way, I always found certain similarities in Mayer's art for Scribbly and Al Capp's Lil' Abner. Character designs and facial expressions mostly, and they're inked in a more stylized way than he does in his funny animals and Sugar & Spike.
November 6, 2009 9:19 AM
You're right about the digital era, Gabriel. I've learned of so many new cartoonists thanks to bloggers sharing their old books...and also finally seen old comics (like Milt Gross Funnies, as an example) that I had never been able to find when I was collecting.
That's a good point you bring up about Mayer and Al Capp. Although I think that was conventional for a lot of comics (mostly humor) at the time to have cartoonish guys and pretty girls---Wash Tubbs, Archie, Alley Oop, Babe, Powerhouse Pepper, Moon Mullins, Blondie, Fritzi Ritz, etc. Works for me!
November 6, 2009 10:46 AM