Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Number 1053

Sparky Watts' side show

Texas-born Boody Rogers, who wrote and drew Sparky Watts comics (with assistant Eric Stanton) for Big Shot Comics and the eponymous Sparky Watts comic book, was a cartoon art genius with a bizarre imagination, just perfect for the wild and wooly comics of the Golden Age. His stories were offbeat, and his drawings were clear and funny. Sparky Watts had started out as a newspaper comic, and was picked up by Columbia Comics when World War II began. Rogers went off to war, and came back in 1946 to draw some more classic Sparkys before the spark went out. Big Shot and Sparky Watts were gone by 1949, Boody's follow-up comic books, Dudley and Babe, were gone by 1950. Boody left the comic book biz and moved back out West. It took another few decades for comic book fans to catch up to his genius.

Before Sparky Watts, Boody was an assistant on Zack Mosley's classic Smilin' Jack comic strip. This page of original art*, a collaboration by Zack and Boody done for a friend's wedding, is classic comic art lunacy. It reminds me of early underground comix by R. Crumb and the group, with their acid-inspired nonsense pages. They were great fun but made no sense to anyone who wasn't stoned.

I've posted more strips by Boody Rogers, and you can click on his name, tagged at the bottom of this posting, for more. You can also still buy Boody, the fabulous Fantagraphics book with stories from both Sparky Watts and Babe, edited by the irrepressible Craig Yoe, Dean of the College of Comic Art Knowledge.

This story, Sparky takes over for the suddenly-weakened strong man in a circus side show, is from Sparky Watts #7, 1948.

*Taken from the Heritage Auction site scan. Thanks, HA!

No comments: