Friday, May 28, 2010

Number 744

No foo like an old foo

Smokey Stover and Spooky were creations of screwball cartoonist Bill Holman, who kept up the Smokey Stover comic strip for nearly 40 years before retiring in 1973, surely a record for creating crazy cartoons and outrageous puns. Read through these sample Sunday pages from 1943; every panel is packed with silliness.

Holman used the word "foo" a lot. In turn it was borrowed from Smokey Stover and used to describe the mysterious fiery balls in the sky over Germany, spotted by American airmen flying bombing missions during World War II ("Foo Fighters", and that's where the name of the band originated, rock fans).

Holman is shown here in 1950 having fun with one of the perks of the job. If you can draw funny pictures you too can have groupies! Look at Bill, and tell me it isn't true.

These pages are scanned from Dell's Super Comics #116, 1948:


Peter Bernard said...

Yes, Pappy, in fact, Smokey Stover used to refer to himself as a "Foo Fighter" rather than Fire Fighter. Holman had to have been a huge influence on the early MAD, what with the way they'd put signs everywhere (Elder/Kurtzman especially). In Bob Clampett's "Porky in Wackyland," there are numerous references to "FOO." (See There's even a giant word FOO in it that might have inspired the big words like "GLOVE" and "LOVE" in Yellow Submarine many years later.

Thanks,Pappy! Holman rules!

Pappy said...

I'm sure all of the inspired nonsense in Smokey Stover inspired Kurtzman and Elder. They were both developing their styles in the '30s and '40s when Holman was extremely popular.

Kirk said...

When they were still in high school, Robert Crumb and his brother Charles put out a comic book called Foo.

Pappy said...

Kirk...I've got a story about the Crumbs' FOO. In 1959 I got a fanzine with an ad for FOO from the Crumb Bros. in Delaware. (I think the fanzine was Joel Moser's FRANTIC). I sent 15¢ for FOO to Crumb and never got anything, no 'zine, no response to a follow-up letter I wrote. So, I thought the money was lost in the mail, oh well.

In '73 a friend introduced me to Crumb and his roommate Terry Zwigoff at their house on Brazil Street in San Francisco. My thought was to say, "Hey, Robert, you know you owe me 15¢?" but I felt a bit tongue-tied and the occasion never arose when I could slip it in. As it was, we spent a couple of hours listening to his old 78s, then Crumb gave me a couple of his comic books; he just offered them to me and I took them. I guess he more than repaid my 15¢.

In the '80s the three issues of FOO were reprinted, I bought them and still have them. The three cost me $15.00, not 15¢, but at that point I wasn't quibbling over the price, just glad to have them.

Chuck Wells said...

Considering where he has placed his hand in that photo, Holman is a guy after my own heart.

nyrdyv said...

Gotta wonder how long it took Holman to do the front side of that picture...


Steven G. Willis