Archive | Bringing Up Father

O, Sweet Mystery of BUF, At Last I’ve Found You!

Several months ago, I jumped on the opportunity to buy a sizable batch of early-1930s Bringing Up Father daily strips clipped from the pages of the Kansas City Star. I’ve been tackling them at the pace of one a day—just the way newspaper readers used to experience them! A fine way to start even the coldest, snowiest of New England mornings, I decided, was to enjoy a grin by watching George McManus put Maggie and Jiggs through their paces. Earlier this week I got a double dose of enjoyment, as one of my 1934 BUFs conclusively settled one of the long-unresolved questions about the series’s combustible-but-inseparable stars.

Ever since the 1980s, when I first feasted my eyes on McManus’s lush linework in the pages ofNemo magazine, I’ve read any number of articles about BUF and its artist, several of them professing confusion about whether the name “Jiggs” is a first or last name. Until the first such essay I encountered, it had never occurred to me that “Jiggs” was anything other than a last name. It seemed obvious to me that the comedy is subtly heightened if the outrageously aggressive wife is referred to by her first name while her husband is referred to only by his last name. Since typically a standard use of the last name imparts a certain sense of manliness and authority to the person in question, “Jiggs” as a last name is funny, because “manly” and “authoritative” are two traits not often associated with BUF‘s perennially put-upon-from-all-sides hero! So “Jiggs” as a last name automatically seemed funnier to me than “Jiggs” as a first name—it was a surprise to me that someone might not make that connection and thereby question whether “Jiggs” was a given name or a surname. My reaction the first time I saw the question posed was, “Ahh-h-h, c’mon!”, but down through the years I’ve seen the matter raised a handful of times, so clearly this is not as cut-and-dried as I initially thought.

That’s why I’m now glad to have found this October 11, 1934 daily. The set-up is terrific: Maggie and Jiggs have moved to a new apartment. No sooner have they settled in than Maggie starts taking phone calls from an attractive young woman calling herself “Tootles,” who keeps asking for Jiggs and talking about the places they’re supposed to be going together! (Adding insult to injury for Maggie, “Tootles” thinks she’s leaving a message with the maid.)

Suddenly brimming with suspicion that Jiggs is making love to another woman, Maggie sets off to do some investigating of her own. After several days of growing hilarity, this strip provides the punchline to the story:

 

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As you can see, not only were Maggie’s fears groundless, but this strip makes it clear “Jiggs” is, indeed, the last name of our favorite corned beef and cabbage lover, his wife, and two children.

Another comics mystery solved!

If you have a hankering for more Bringing Up Father, don’t forget about our two collections of Jiggs-family hijinx, From Sea to Shining Sea and Of Cabbages and Kings.

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Even as we drive toward our one hundredth release, they remain two of my very favorite projects in the history of LOAC.

 

For fans of George McManus

No sooner did I get done writing about our Polly and Her Pals LOAC Essentials volume and the special frisson I got from it than a purchase arrived that made me think of another of our books that has a personal “something extra” attached to it.

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Bringing Up Father: Of Cabbages and Kings is chockfull of not just the antics of Jiggs and Maggie, but also rare artwork and information obtained as a result of my late-2012 trip to Los Angeles to research the George McManus papers held at UCLA’s Charles E. Young Research Library. (A travelogue of that trip can be found here).

Whenever I open up Of Cabbages and Kings I recall what a thrill it was to pick up and examine wonderful artifacts like that 1947 Christmas card, a masterwork of color and design (see page 13 in the book), plus all the great photographs and newspaper articles sprinkled throughout my text. Best of all, however, is the knowledge that after my “warm-up act” is over, the book is loaded with over two hundred fifty pages of McManus-created hilarity. I’m such a fan of McManus that I recently pounced on the opportunity to acquire a variety of 1934 Bringing Up Father dailies. Since our sales indicate I’m not alone in my enjoyment of Maggie and Jiggs’s perpetual marital skirmishes, let me share a sampling of them with you here …

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A Century of Pleasure

Although George McManus passed from this earthly coil in 1954, his immortal characters live on in our collective memory—and (of course) in our forthcoming second volume of his classic newspaper strip. The strip premiered in January 1913. Happy Centennial to Bringing Up Father!buf100

Son of Westward, Ho! (Ho-Ho!)

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Above: a 1950 Fathers Day drawing for the St. Paul (Minn.) Dispatch

Following up on my earlier Bringing Up Father discussion and account of my trip to UCLA to research the George McManus Papers there…

UCLA’s Special Collections Libraries have a Duplication Services department, through which all requests for copies and computer scans are routed. Before leaving L.A. I had spoken with department lead Brandon Barton about how best to accommodate the logistics of the McManus artwork we’d be requesting from the collection for use in our Of Cabbages & Kings book, and upon my return from the west coast, after a couple days to get my notes in order, I had a three-page list of items zapping toward his inbox (along with as many pages of descriptive notes to assist Brandon’s crew in locating the artifacts I wanted).

Holidays and a mix-up regarding one of the boxes made Brandon’s task anything but a smooth one, but he and his Duplication Services staff came through with flying colors—and I mean that literally!

Because the artwork and photos I had requested arrived recently, and I was like a kid in a candy store as I reacquainted myself with these treasures. (“Oboyoboyoboyoboyoboyoboyoboy!” is the way I put it in an e-mail to Dean.)

We have some neat family-oriented photos of McManus to share with you in Of Cabbages & Kings, and the artwork…! We have more than we can use in this book or a sequel (or maybe two), so let me tantalize you with just a tidbit or two right now:

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Above: Maggie and Jiggs in service of selling ads for King Features.

Below: an undated card for the Friars Club, of which ol’ George was a member.

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Couple that with a text feature that reflects a chunk of my research results and you’ll soon have in your pulpy little palms what we immodestly (but accurately) characterize as, “the greatestBringing Up Father collection ever assembled!” And when you realize BUF comics have been being sandwiched between two covers since 1919, that’s saying something!

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As a bonus, here’s something that was NOT in McManus’s papers but which we found in our Library’s stacks: a Jiggs “Tijuana Bible,” in which Jiggs…well, let’s just leave it up to your imagination!

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