February 19, 2018


Classic newspaper comic strips are one of my earliest passions. Like many kids, I eagerly awaited the Sunday funnies each week, clipped out my favorite strips, and went to school each morning with a Snoopy lunch box. Everything about the world of comics was fascinating to me; I loved the experience of reading over the gags, getting to know the characters as friends, and then studying the artwork closely. I'll never forget the day my pal Chance Browne (Hi and Lois) brought me the first Hagar paperback. The strip became a life-long favorite. But what really blew me away was the realization that people drew comics for living! I was, and remain, hooked. I did publish cartoons in national magazines earlier in my career, but I've devoted even more time to teaching comic art to kids. I also got to collaborate with Mort Walker (Beetle Bailey) on a biographical project, which became Mort Walker Conversations in 2005. I have a new Mort Walker eBook coming out soon, so please stay tuned! Putting on my Spy Vibe glasses (sunglasses, I think...like Marcello Mastroianni wore in The 10th Victim), it's also interesting to see how comics through the ages have reflected the culture and times. By examining themes that appear, we can really get a sense of what both interested and concerned people. Here are a few examples of hot topics from the Cold War that found their way into the words and pictures of Johnny Hart (B.C.) and Charles Schulz (Peanuts). Johnny Hart created his prehistoric strip in 1958, and one of his main characters was the thinking-caveman's man; he had a knack for thinking up advanced plans for unknown technology. In the first strip below, from a 1968 compilation, he imagines a rocket... maybe a missile, which leads him to the dark conclusion of a nuclear explosion and mushroom cloud. "The heck with ideas!" he says, storming away. Also from the 1968 book, the second strip uses the traditional Dick and Jane storybook pattern to comment on the Berlin Wall. Charles Schulz created Peanuts in 1950 (same year as Walker's Beetle Bailey debut), and he famously channeled his own insecurities, imagination, and observations through Charlie Brown, Snoopy, and their friends. In the strip below from 1954, Schulz demonstrates how kids can normalize even the worst nightmares through play, as his characters act out an H-Bomb test- within one year of Russia's first hydrogen-bomb test. Their naïveté also reflects the innocence of the "duck and cover" attitude of the era. I have separated the four panels for easy viewing, but do check out his original flow of line in the original art (below). For related Spy Vibe posts, check out: Mort Walker CelebrationMid-Century Modern SchulzBeetle Bailey in BerlinMort Walker's James Bomb, Comics Week: Archie, Cold War Archie, Archie: Man From Riverdale, Cold War Materials, Atomic Art, Spyman, Jimmy Olson: Agent Double 5, 1966 PEP Spies. Enjoy!

Selected Spy Vibe Posts: Thunderball EventMission to IndiaMort Walker Celebration,  Peter Wyngarde CelebrationBatman 66 ExhibitPrisoner Fifty EventIan Fleming Publications 2017-2018Interview: Ed Hulse PulpAvengers Audio DramaInterview: Callan At 50Interview: Playboys, Spies, Private EyesTWA ReturnsSpy Vibe Radio 8Interview: Ryan HeshkaMid-Century Modern SchulzAgent WerewolfMata Hair ExhibitJohnny Sokko 50thInterview: Trina RobbinsEddie IzzardThe Prisoner Capt Scarlet 50thHugh Hefner R.I.P.Jack Good R.I.P.Interview: Shaken Not StirredCallan 50thSpy Vibe Radio 7The Prisoner 50th EventSpy-Fi EventKaho Aso 007Two MillionBo DiddleyCarnaby PopLe Carre EventsBilly Bragg SkiffleElvis 68Jack Kirby The PrisonerCasino Royale ConcertReview: The Prisoner Vol 2Interview: The Prisoner Essential GuideMaud Russell MottisfontSpy Vibe Radio 4Batman GallantsAdam West R.I.P.Village TriangleRoger Moore R.I.P.Spy Vibe Radio 3Sgt Pepper 50thSatanik Kriminal OST60s OverdriveMake Love in LondonSpy Vibe Radio 2Spy Vibe Radio 1James Bond StripsPropaganda MabuseInterview: Police SurgeonXTC Avengers1966 Pep SpiesBatman Book InterviewExclusive Fleming InterviewAvengers Comic StripsRobert Vaughn RIPUNCLE FashionsThunderbirds Are Pop!, Interview: Spy Film GuideLost Avengers FoundThe Callan FileMission Impossible 50thGreen Hornet 50thStar Trek 50thPortmeirion Photography 1Filming the PrisonerGaiman McGinnins ProjectIan Fleming GraveRevolver at 50Karen Romanko InterviewMod Tales 2Umbrella Man: Patrick MacneeNew Beatles FilmThe Curious CameraEsterel Fashion 1966Exclusive Ian Ogilvy Interview007 Tribute CoversThe Phantom Avon novels returnIan Fleming FestivalArgoman DesignSylvia Anderson R.I.P.Ken Adam R.I.P.George Martin R.I.P.The New Avengers ComicsThe Phantom at 80007 MangaAvengerworld BookDiana Rigg Auto ShowThe Prisoner Audio Drama Review.

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