Translate

Friday, August 28, 2015

Number 1780: It ain’t Mad, but it ain’t bad

Whack, published by St. John, was another Mad imitator, and as far as it went, probably better than most. Originally designed for 3-D, when that market crashed it was re-designed as a regular four color 10¢ format. It did not last long. Number 3 (1954), featuring “Prince Scallion,” was the last issue.

William T. Overgard drew the satire on the popular Harold Foster creation, It is also, like Mad, full of references to American culture of the early fifties, including the “king” of television, Arthur Godfrey (as King Arthur, ho-ho), toothpaste ads which sold brands based on ingredients like chlorophyll, and even mentions my favorite toothpaste ad line (which made everyone paranoid about the state of their breath and social acceptability), “Even your best friends won’t tell you...” Your breath stinks!

Overgard, who died in 1990, was a comic book artist who went to syndicated comic strips, and had a decent career. Not only did he draw “Steve Roper and Mike Nomad,” he wrote novels, and late in his career, episodes of the animated TV series, Thundercats. He also drew a critically accepted, but ultimately failed comic strip from 1983, Rudy, which featured a talking simian in the image of comedian George Burns.









16 comments:

Ryan Anthony said...

That last line made me laugh. But, for the most part, it wasn't that funny. Maybe it was just of its time; after all, Pap, you had to explain some of the references in your intro. Still, for a parody, it was quite lovely looking and artistic--the angles, the use of silhouette, the colors, etc. I dunno, maybe it would've been funnier if it had looked more like Foster's style rather than goofy.

Brian Barnes said...

Not bad. Had the Kurtzman rhythm down (caption -> negate the caption and statement -> "he really did" statement.)

Got a good bit of Wood in there, too, and some Davis.

If you're going to swipe, at least swipe from the best!

J_D_La_Rue_67 said...

It's not Prince Violent, but it's nice.
There must be an interesting story behind Steve Roper. Isn't he the guy who slowly stole the Chief Wahoo's strip (and possibly his girl too, if Maurice Horn is accurate). Never trust a paleface.

Mike Britt said...

I bought WHACK off the newstand in those youthful days of the early fifties. I liked it then as I still do now as probably one of the best of the MAD imitations. Kubert and Maurer put out a very handsome comic that was a couple of levels above the rest of the bunch of MAD wannabees. Hopefully someone will put out a collection some day...I won't buy it of course, because I have all three issues. After the title's demise some leftovers appeared in Kubert and Maurer's THREE STOOGES.

rnigma said...

If I recall, the Steve Roper strip began as "Big Chief Wahoo" drawn by Elmer Woggon (whose brother Bill created Katy Keene) in a more cartoony style. Wahoo was the Native American sidekick of a W.C. Fields-ish snake oil peddler called The Great Gusto. When Roper entered the strip, it evolved into a more realistic art style (and adventure-oriented scripting by Allen Saunders), and of course Wahoo would disappear when Overgard took over, and the title became "Steve Roper." Still later, private eye Mike Nomad was added, and eventually he would take over the strip, by then called "Steve Roper and Mike Nomad."

"Rudy" was a smart strip that satirized show business; pity it didn't last very long.

Pappy said...

Ryan, interesting notes from you and Mike Britt; you who are too young to know the pop culture/early TV references, and Mike Britt, who bought issues of Whack as they came out.

I feel I need to explain some things about these "antique" satirical publications, not just because I tend toward pedantry, but because the targets of some of the satire can be unknown to modern readers. A younger friend sold me his Russ Cochran slip-cased, hardbound Mad comics collection because he didn’t understand most of those references. And in a few more years when all of us alive today are dead, who will there be to explain them?

I mean, Arthur Godfrey? As popular as he was in his day...he had a couple of television programs and a radio show, and he sponsored many products during those days of live TV broadcasts, he is mostly forgotten today. I rarely, if ever, see references to Godfrey, and yet I doubt there was an American in the early 1950s who would not have known who he was.

There is a also a link between Mike and Pappy's. Mike published the first fanzine I ever saw, Squatront #2, in 1959. It led, more or less directly, to what you are reading in my blog. From Mike I learned that people could actually write about such things as COMIC BOOKS! What a revelation.

Pappy said...

Mike, see my response to Ryan Anthony.

Pappy said...

Brian, I agree; when it came to influential comic book artists, especially the satirical type, Wood and Davis were head and shoulders above everyone else. Will Elder, also, but I don't know any other cartoonists who tried to imitate him like they did Wood and Davis...or have I missed someone?

Pappy said...

J D, "Big Chief Wahoo" is a character I have seen, but I have never read any of the comic strips, so I don't know if Steve Roper stole his girlfriend or not.

I have also never read the "Steve Roper and Mike Nomad" comic strips by Overgard. What I have seen of Overgard's work is mostly in the comics edited by Charles Biro; Overgard did Westerns and crime and even Crimebuster in Boy Comics.

Kirk said...

Just re-read Prince Violent somewhere on the web. Both that and this parody ends with a pageboy hair cut joke. Interesting. If someone asked me to satirize Prince Valiant (and, or course, nobody has or will) I don't think it would have occurred to me to make fun of the hero's hair style. But that's possibly because I was born in 1961 and grew up in an era (and continue to live in an era) when males sometimes wear their hair like girls, and vice-versa. That Kurtzman and Ovargard both chose to mock it may be as much indicative of the era that these parodies appeared as the Arthur Godfrey reference (which, incidentally, I got, but that's because I've always been interested in pop culture from before my time.)

I should point out that Price Valiant is done entirely with captions making Kurtzman's version a purer parody, for what that's worth.

Pappy said...

Kirk, I well remember those crewcut days of the fifties. Conformity, if not exactly the law, was the rule. No wonder in the sixties us kids who grew up in that era suddenly got hairy.

It was pointed out to me in the 1970s that every hundred years or so long hair on men comes back.

If given the choice of two parodies I would always choose Kurtzman, with a brilliant art job by Wallace Wood, of course.

Pappy said...

rnigma, there is a compilation of the Rudy comic strips in a book called Rudy in Hollywood. For the year or so Rudy appeared in my local newspaper it was my favorite comic strip.

J_D_La_Rue_67 said...

@Rnigma, thanks for the clarifications on Big Chief Wahoo. Yeah, I knew he supplanted the Great Gusto, but was not sure if, as Maurice Horn states, Roper and Minnie Ha-Cha had a romantic fling. Can't find evidence on the Net. And you know what? I hate the thought that such a nice guy had to lose his love, only because he's a funny character and Roper is the Brick Bradford type. Anyway, both Wahoo and Minnie disappeared and then the Nomad character was introduced. Interesting how the strip turned from humor to action/adventure.

@Kirk, maybe the hair-joke is more understandable if you think about Louise Brooks. Pappy, so I will have to wait 100 years for my hair to grow back? :-(

Pappy said...

J D, now that you mention it...that hairstyle does look like Louise Brooks' famous flapper cut.

You are in luck. The 20th century's long hair explosion doesn't look like it is going away anytime soon. I see boys of all ages with long hair. So if you can grow it, go for it.

I think it is amusing to see guys my age with hair down to their belts. An old friend of mine has worn his hair (and beard) like that since the sixties. He said once, "I have had only one haircut since I was 14." He is a die hard longhair.

J_D_La_Rue_67 said...

As for me...

http://reidfleming.com/index-folder/t-shirts/t-shirt-pics/t-shirts-b-1000d/t-shirt-006-b.jpg

rnigma said...

The last artist on the Roper/Nomad strip was Fran Matera, best known for his work on the Catholic-sponsored "Treasure Chest" comic book.
It wasn't the only comic strip to change artists and lead characters at roughly the same time. Irv Novick's soap-opera strip "Cynthia" morphed into "Roger Lincoln, S-Man" an adventure strip with Milton Luros taking over as artist. "Hap Hopper, Washington Correspondent," originally drawn by Jack Sparling, became "Barry Noble"; its new artist was Al Plastino. Most bizarre was the case of the "Batman" newspaper strip, where Bruce Wayne hung up his Bat-costume, and from nowhere came Galexo to assume his crimefighting duties.