The “Phantom” Predescessor

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You may not have read this comic but if you grew up in the US before 2000, I bet you’ve come across it while looking for Garfield in the newspaper. Lee Falk’s The Phantom predates Superman by 3 years and set the standards for many tropes we associate with the Man of Steel.

I would provide a full retrospect but YouTuber Midnight’s Edge has that covered.

 

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Little Orphan Cliffhanger

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While I’m sad that Little Orphan Annie no longer graces the Newspaper page, I do feel a sense of content closure for the series. After 86 years and several ghost writers and artists taking over for original creator Harold Gray, it couldn’t have lasted much longer than a Soap Opera would on television. Besides, 86 years of strips is a lot to compile into book collections. Imagined if it kept going on past a century?  If only they hadn’t ended it on an emotionally sensitive cliffhanger. 

Frank Cho’s “humor” Seems Very Familiar

I had to see what everyone was so angry about regarding Frank Cho’s “joke” cover for SpiderGwen/Spiderman/Harley Quinn\whatever.

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A lot of people are angry, but I can’t really say I’m offended…..or surprised. Frank Cho’s humor in these covers is pretty reminiscent of what he did in his early comic series Liberty Meadows.

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I hate being critical towards one of the artists that influenced me, but what I really enjoyed about Cho’s first official series was his stylistic combination of classic-style characters interacting with cartoony animals in the vein of “Bone”. Now that he works for Marvel, from my perspective, all of his stylistic interpretations of (mostly) female characters look like rehashings of his Liberty Meadows regulars Brandy and Jen. As I looked at the covers in question, I couldn’t help but notice how much of a resemblance Gwen bore to Jen (seen “tormenting” Dean the Pig in the above image.)

I can’t read his mind, but perhaps he was trying to inject that old “Liberty Meadows” humor in his current line of work……only for it to backfire. When I first met him at a panel at HeroesCon 2013, a discussion was held on the risks of exhibiting such humor to the uninitiated. Superhero comics seem to have no place for underground shock humor……..except Deadpool, perhaps.

What do Bermuda, Garfield and Malcolm X have in Common?

It’s funny how you recall one thing which leads to something that would seem completely unrelated if not for interlinking circumstances. In the summer of 1997, I was in Bermuda with my mother and grandmother the week international news outlets reported the death of Betty Shabazz by injuries inflicted by her grandson, Malcolm Shabazz, who himself later passed away in 2013. We received Hamilton’s local paper, which I at the time naturally turned to the comics section. It ran Tumbleweeds, the comic I had also learned that year cartoonist Jim Davis helped work on before he created Garfield. I don’t think I’ll ever think about Garfield or Bermuda without immediately recalling the Shabazz family.

Thank “Mickey McGuire” for Mickey Rooney

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Last Week, Mickey Rooney passed away at the age of 93. Known for his roles in Boys Town, National Velvet, the Andy Hardy series and the now infamous yellowface character in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Rooney career shot to the top with one good role: Mickey McGuire. Who is Mickey McGuire?

Well, that story begins with the comic strip called Toonerville Trolley or Toonerville Folks by Fontaine Fox. Running in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch from 1915 to 1955, the strip humorously chronicled a neglected trolley and its conductor as they serviced an upstate new york community.

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 Fox’s cartoon proved so popular with the public that in 1927, a film series was adapted centering on one character from the cast: Mickey McGuire.
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The studio cast a young actor and son of vaudeville comedians, Joe Yule Jr. The decision to proved successful, as the series rivaled the series Our Gang (known today as “the Little Rascals”) for 10 years. The series itself helped launch Joe Yule to celebrity status.

 

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When the young Yule left the series at it’s end to pursue his growing career, Fontaine Fox’s copyright restrictions prevented him from using his role’s name, so Yule took another option—changing his name to Mickey Rooney. And the rest was history…….

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So yeah: If it wasn’t for a comic strip, Mickey wouldn’t have his career.