Wednesday, April 04, 2012
Number 1134: Fred Rhoads's cautionary tale
Fred Rhoads drew Sad Sack for Harvey Comics. He worked out of his home in Arizona, mailing in his work. In the late '70s when Harvey stopped sending him assignments he applied for unemployment compensation, only to find he wasn't considered an employee of Harvey. They claimed he was an independent contractor doing work for hire. It resulted in Rhoads filing a lawsuit against Harvey which eventually cost him everything. In the end the publisher won.
For decades artists signed away their work, never got payment for reprints, didn't get medical benefits or retirement. Rhoads' story is a cautionary tale for artists to understand what they are really signing when they endorse their paycheck.
Sad Sack, created during World War II by cartoonist George Baker, was stuck in an Army where he never got a promotion, was under constant harassment, a target of his ass-kicking sergeant and overbearing officers. (Not unlike Mort Walker's later Beetle Bailey.) I like Rhoads's writing and drawing. I chose these stories to show because they are more fantasy than typical G.I.-humor.
According to some accounts Rhoads drew 9,500 pages for Harvey from the '50s to the '70s. He died in 2000.
From Sad Sack #220 (1971):
I think Rhoads slipped one by the censors. In the last panel of page one of "Hair Raising Tale" Sack says, “I don't like the smell of this,” while standing under the horse’s tail. Ha-ha!
From Sad Sack and the Sarge #90 (1971):
Hairy Green Eyeball posted a story from a 1964 issue of Sad Sack where Sack became on alien abductee! Link to the posting with the story here.