No, not about the critters, but about a class of strips that won’t die. There is also a sub-category of strips that won’t die, even though the person who drew the strip is no longer on this earth. Peanuts, is a good example of a strip that won’t die. I guess Charles Schultz owned the rights, so Mother Squeezeblood could not hire a hack and continue to churn them out. More on mother Squeezeblood later. But on to a typical Zombie strip–Andy Capp comes to mind. The cover below was drawn in 1963, and gives a good idea of what Andy Capp looked like then. He is described as “…46-year-old, pot bellied, wife-beating little lay-about…He has no discernible trade and lives on the dole as if he earned it. He is selfish, improvident, coarse, arrogant and bullying.” This from the introduction of Meet Andy Capp, Gold Medal Books © 1963.
Andy and his long suffering wife, Flo often engage in knock down drag out fights.
He is a woman-chasing drunk.
He is drawn as shown on the cover to the left.
His drinking buddy is Chalkie.
Chalkie has a wife, Rube.
One strip had Flo and Rube fighting, while Andy and Chalkie watch. Andy turns to Chalkie and says, “I admit yours is getting’ the best of it—but mine’s got better style.”
In short, it is rough, non-PC life as drawn by Reg Smythe.
Below is an excellent bio. I find it interesting how Al Capp influenced Reg Smythe when it came to financial compensation.
Well, Reg is dead. Long live Reg. But, the strip is making money, so let us hire a couple of guys to continue milking the cash cow. The problem with this is that they have no continuity or history with the strip, and they make some odd cartoons which long time readers know do not make sense. However, take a look at Andy Capp 2.0, courtesy of Go Comics.
Since I mentioned Al Capp I would suggest you take a look at the Wikipedia story about him, and the discussion of Rockwell P. Squeezeblood.
I remember either the actual strip or a collection, how a starving artist signs away his rights to a syndicate. His strip is a hit, but for a newspaper to buy it, they had to also buy Mother Squeezeblood recipes, or some such. The Mother Squeezeblood price was astronomical, whereas the starving cartoonist got pennies.
Well, onward. In Australia, Gary Clark is well known for his Swamp series. In his salad days he drew Trucktoons, about a trucker and his dog, Diesel. The cover is below.
It has been many years, but I seem to remember a discussion about drawing the strip, but not owning it.
Inside are several full color (colour) cartoons featuring Diesel Dog. Maybe I should have put him in the Dog section. Anyway, I did a search for Trucktoons, and came up with this link.
You can search the covers and not find any mention of the cartoonist, much less Gary Clark’s name.
All of which leads me to assume that Trucktoons and/or Diesel Dog are Zombie strips.
At first, I thought that The Elderberries was a Zombie, because I remembered that the strip was by Phil Frank, but when it ended it was by Corey Pandolph. However, Go Comics decided to continue running it, starting from the beginning. Because of this, I could see that the first strip credited both Phil Frank and Corey Pandolph. The style was different at first, and some of the characters were markedly different. But– this is important–it was a partnership, with one partner continuing after the death of the other partner.
Check out a story in the San Francisco Chronicle for the backstory. Also, in his Travels With Farley book, Phil Frank introduces a character called Sgt. Major J. D. Campbell, who has just escaped from the Golden Years Retirement Home. Shades of The Elderberries.
As we can see, the drawings are much less busy. In any case, here is the link for the strip on Go Comics.
Sometimes, the Zombie just grates on the reader. At least this reader. Case in Point is Adam, by Brian Basset. Adam was a great, not grate cartoon. Supposedly, Basset wanted to pursue other interests. If I was a conspiracy nut, I would be muttering about ‘jumped, fell, or was pushed…’ However, for whatever reason, he left, and the syndicate turned the strip over to someone named, Rob Harrell. Along the way the strip was changed to Adam@Home. Anyway, check out the artwork on the cover of a 1991 collection and compare it with the current strip. I tried reading the new strip, but finally decided that it was a waste of precious space on the comic’s page in my newspaper. Wikipedia has a summary.
I am certain I can think of more Zombie strips, but that is it for now.
January 25, 2013.
I recently came across the attached. It was in an interview by John Cheves, as carried in The Oregonian, a daily newspaper in Portland, Oregon. Maybe I should have done the full article, but I think the following states the case elegantly.
Well, that about says it.