Tag Archives | George McManus

Ad-ing LIFE to the Comics

In various LOAC books we’ve shown (and discussed) examples of the intersection between comics and the world of advertising, yet it’s not a topic we’ve lingered over in this space. I decided to change that just a bit recently, when going through the contents of a bunch of Life Magazines. (One of the perks of this job is being able to sift through old magazines and newspapers, to get a look at — or in some cases, remember — The Way It Used to Be.) These Lifes had a variety of comics-based advertisements, so I snagged a batch of them to share with you.

The earliest Life ad I found with a comics connection was in the magazine’s April 15, 1940 issue. I knew Bud Fisher’s Mutt and Jeff were popular, but until I saw this I had no idea they were experts on digestive difficulties …

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Found in My Far-From-Junk Drawer

Last time in this space I discussed growing up with a “junk drawer” in our home, a catch-all for things that didn’t easily fit in anywhere else in the house. I mentioned having a similar catch-all in my filing cabinets today. It definitely doesn’t qualify as a junk drawer, given the many wonderful outsized or unusual items that reside within it, but it serves a similar purpose to my father and mother’s original Fibber McGee-style drawer from my boyhood days.

A recent dive into that Far-From-Junk drawer brought me to the KFS booklet commemorating Bringing Up Father‘s 20th anniversary, and that sparked thoughts that resulted in the “character evolution” piece that ran here at the end of September. It occurred to me that perhaps you might like to see a smattering of the other items I keep in my Far-From-Junk Drawer, so this week I dived back in.

Since we began by considering Bringing Up Father, and since I’m a huge fan of all things George McManus, let’s start off this look with two of almost a year’s worth of 1934 BUF newspaper strips I own, clipped from the pages of the Kansas City Star. McManus always has a great way with animals, and here you’ll see Jiggs and Maggie have received a most unusual pet, given as a gift from nobility with whom they had recently rubbed elbows:



I always love gags about Maggie’s singing, and here the little pachyderm proves he has good taste regarding bad music!

A few years ago, Al Capp/Li’l Abner fan extraordinaire Mike Fontanelli sent me a C.A.R.E. package of all things Abnerian — some clipped daily and Sunday strips, a smattering of magazine articles, and other odds and ends, including a nice sampling of Cream of Wheat ads featuring the denizens of Dogpatch. Here’s a sample, which seemed especially appropriate since 2016, like 1944, is a leap year :


Li’l Abner Yokum proves that Cream of Wheat not only tastes good, it’s good for you!

I also have some Ben Casey material, like this newspaper ad promoting the series, by the irrepressible Neal Adams, who continues to produce great-looking art today, *mumble-mumble* decades later:


Neal Adams, of course, became an almost-revered figure in the comic book world for his work at both DC (on Superman, Deadman, and Green Lantern/Green Arrow) and Marvel (X-Men, Avengers, Inhumans, Thor). The superhero world’s gain was the comic strip world’s loss!

Not all the items in my catch-all drawer pertain to comic strips. I make no secret of my love for baseball, and here’s a fine copy of a photo of the young Jackie Robinson that I received as a benefit from being a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame:


As the first African-American to play major league baseball, Robinson wore number 42. That number has now been retired from the sport, and no major leaguer will ever again wear that number without special permission from the Commissioner’s office.

Back in the comic book world, Jim Steranko moved away from doing work for Marvel Comics to publish magazines (Mediascene, Prevue) under his own company. He produced other products as well, like his bellwether History of Comics and stiff cardboard comic book “holders.” Here are the two facing sides of those holders, rendered as only Steranko can do it:



By the way, Steranko’s brilliant Introduction to our Scorchy Smith and the Art of Noel Sickles is must-reading for any student of the artform.

Finally, during the 1980s and into the early ’90s, I was devouring Mark Schultz’s Xenozoic Tales while it was initially being published by Kitchen Sink Press. How big an XT booster was I? So big that on a trip to Million Year Picnic in Cambridge, Massachusetts, I bought one of the boxes of “Cadillacs & Dinosaurs” candy bars they were selling. The candy is long gone, of course, but here is the top of the box, plus one of its side panels, featuring series stars Jack Tenrec and Hannah Dundee amidst some heavy dinosaurian action:



Though the core comics series was published as Xenozoic Tales, a parallel series and a short-lived animated TV series both appeared under the “Cadillacs & Dinosaurs” title.

Here’s hoping you’ve enjoyed this peek inside my Far-From-Junk Drawer — and that you agree with my classification of its contents as definitely being anything but junk!

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!)


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:


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.


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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