I first became aware of “Broom Hilda,” when I found her in the comics section of the paper where I lived in the 1970’s. My young son enjoyed all the cartoons, but he especially enjoyed “Broom Hilda” and the character Grelber, who lives in a, I believe, hollow log. Grelber is drawn only as eyes and a toothy grin against an all black interior of the log. Neither the eyes nor grin are in the slightest bit friendly. I do not know what appealed to my son, but he would draw Grelber along with airplanes, and other pre-teen boy type drawings.
On my part, I did not realize that Broom Hilda was green. I guess I had never seen her in the Sunday comics. Of course, when I started collecting the books, I learned that she was indeed, green.
From a couple of sources, I have learned that her creator, Russell Myers, was mostly self taught. The following is from, “How to be a Cartoonist,” by Randy Glasbergen, North Light Books, 1996. Page 51.
“Myers gets his inspiration for Broom-Hilda by reading the comics pages and finds the hardest part isn’t writing a joke but finding a subject to write about.
This cartoonist is a busy man. Along with creating the daily and Sunday Broom-Hilda strip, Russell is a hardware dealer in a small town. He even does the books himself. In his private life, he has a strict policy of no drinking and no smoking, and does regular exercise. He lives in Oregon with his wife Marina on a bluff, high above the Rogue River. They have two children, a son and a daughter.
Russell Myers is proof that cartoon success can be more than a distant dream, even if it takes working like a dog and surviving all the kicks to the head. Maybe the wave of Broom-Hilda’s magic wand helped.”
I believe he lives near Medford. If he and his family live over in Josephine county he may wish he had a green witch, to look after the property, as that county has laid off the deputies, closed most of the jail, and is just kind of hunkering down–Ted.
Anyway, back to the blog.
Go Comics.-features the current daily strip. They also provided the following information.
“Living in an enchanted forest with surrealistic landscapes, the engaging characters of Broom Hilda happily have no connection with reality. Other comic characters are extensions or distortions of reality, but Broom Hilda deals in pure fantasy, making the strip bewitchingly unique. Here in the forest, the inhabitants maintain a standard of madness where total irrelevance is the only relevancy. The strip is simply a loony-bin where what’s said and done often makes no sense whatsoever, much to the joy of its millions of fans.”
Also from, “How to Be a Cartoonist”, by Randy Glasbergen, we have the following quote. “
“The idea for Broom-Hilda was conceived by Elliot Caplin, a comic writer in New York. He described it to Russell, and he ran with the idea. Russell drew and wrote sample cartoons, and Caplin sold the strip to the syndicate. That sale started Myers and Caplin as business partners, and they continue as partners still.”
I found the obituary for Mr. Caplin, in the online edition of The New York Times. Of all the cartoons and comic strips mentioned, there is not one mention of “Broom Hilda.” Maybe the family decided that they wanted him remembered for “L’il Abner,” and not for some green witch.
Wikipedia has a good breakdown on the characters.
If you search, you can even find Broom Hilda animated cartoons. They come complete with laugh track. Lucky us.
So, here are some cartoons, from my very worn copy of “Broom Hilda Rides Again,” courtesy of Beaumont Books.
Ah, yes. We meet Grelber.