“Sometimes I’m amazed that I spend my days creating magic and fantasy and that people buy it. It’s like connecting with the inner child in me; I’m just having a great time, and I’m chuckling to myself that this is really happening, that I can do this with my life.”
– Lita Albuquerque
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Back in 1947, Life Magazine asked a couple of artists to draw short comic strips while being blindfolded. Dixie Dugan, Steve Canyon, Dagwood, Skeezix, and Andy Gump can be found caricatured just down below. Chic Young, Frank King, Zack Mosley and others, were up for the challenge and they didn’t let us down!
Who is Skeezix? Well, he is the main character in Gasoline Alley. This is drawn by Frank King, who was – “ an American cartoonist best known for his comic strip Gasoline Alley. In addition to innovations with color and page design, King introduced real-time continuity in comic strips by showing his characters aging over generations.
Born in Cashton, Wisconsin, King was the oldest of the two sons of mechanic John J. King and his wife Caroline. When Frank was four years old, he moved with his parents to 1710 Superior Avenue in Tomah, Wisconsin, where they operated their family general store. He started drawing while growing up in Tomah, where he graduated from Tomah High School in 1901. He entered country fair drawing competitions; a sign he drew for a hotel bootblack earned him only 25 cents, but it was seen by a traveling salesman who learned it had been drawn by the son of one of his customers.
The salesman arranged an interview for King with a Minneapolis newspaper editor. King began earning $7 a week at the Minneapolis Times, and during his four years there, he doubled his salary while creating drawings and doing retouching. On March 17, 1905, he gave a chalk talk at a Minneapolis St. Patrick’s Day celebration.”
2. Dixie Dugan
John Striebel’s caricature is a take on how he saw women of the 40’s, trying to make something of themselves, and also trying to achieve greatness, in an age were men were dominating everything with an iron fist. “ He illustrated for magazines, including Liberty, and a comic strip, Pantomime, which ran for eight years.
While doing “Pantomime” he also illustrated McEvoy’s magazine serial, Show Girl. After work on The Potters, a feature by McEvoy, he moved to Woodstock, New York in 1923 to study painting with Henry Lee McFee and Andrew Dasburg. He sometimes drew Woodstock into his strips as a town named Stoodwock. In October 1929, he began illustrating Dixie Dugan, created and written by McEvoy.
It was distributed by the McNaught Syndicate from 1929 to 1966. Striebel continued to work on the strip until the early 1960s, when he became ill. Streibel’s assistants were Al Bare, Dave Huffine and Frank McNitt, the son of McNaught Syndicate co-founder Virgil McNitt. Striebel’s daughter, Margery Ann Huffine, did the strip’s lettering from the age of 14. Striebel died on May 22, 1962. “
3. Dagwood’s Head
Pretty unbelievable how this one turned out. Chic Young was blindfolded, and still he managed to recreate Dagwood and make him recognizable. “ In the summer of 1930, working in his studio in Great Neck, Long Island, Young created Blondie. When it debuted September 8, 1930, it quickly became the most popular comic strip in America, gaining even more readers when Blondie and Dagwood married in 1933, followed by the 1934 birth of Baby Dumpling (later known as Alexander).
When his first son, Wayne, died of diphtheria in 1937, Young took a year’s hiatus; the experience made it difficult for him to draw Baby Dumpling. After Young and his wife spent a year traveling in Europe, he began Blondie once again, quelling rumors that he might not return to the strip. With films, radio, television and products, the strip became a licensing and media bonanza that made Young a wealthy man.
During his lifetime, he produced more than 15,000 Blondie strips. Described by former King Features president Joseph Connelly as “the greatest story teller of his kind since the immortal Charles Dickens,” Young at his peak received more fan mail than any other cartoonist. His other works include the strip Colonel Potterby and the Duchess, which ran as a topper strip on the Blondie page from 1935 through 1963. “
4. Smilin’ Jack
A shadow of his former self, an empty shell, Jack seems awkward incarnated. The left Jack appeared in over 300 newspapers from 1933 to 1973. The right Jack was forgotten, and drowned into the abyss that he came from. “Mosley, who also designed posters, insignias and program covers for flying events, became a licensed pilot on November 13, 1936.
He owned nine airplanes, logging over 3000 hours at the controls and flew on Civil Air Patrol anti-submarine flights during World War II. Zack’s younger brother, Robert L. Mosley, flew World War II Air Force combat missions in the Pacific, and after the war, he became Zack’s assistant on The Adventures of Smilin’ Jack for five years while the two were living in Stuart, Florida.
Boody Rogers was another assistant on the strip. Zack Mosley was 87 when he died of a heart attack December 21, 1993 at Martin Memorial Medical Center in Stuart, Florida. Mosley was inducted into the Oklahoma Cartoonists Hall of Fame in Pauls Valley, Oklahoma by Michael Vance. The Oklahoma Cartoonists Collection, created by Vance, is located in the Toy and Action Figure Museum.“
5. Andy Gump
Gus Edson seems like a man who tried to make something good out of a bad situation, and didn’t let life’s burdens struck him down. Andy has seen better days. “In the early 1950s, Edson was one of several National Cartoonists Society members who participated in European USO Tours. After a visit to Germany, he created Dondi in 1955 with Irwin Hasen. In 1957, Edson recalled the origin of the strip: My search for the perfect collaborator came to a sudden and successful conclusion on a lovely May morning in 1954, in storybook Heidelberg.
How clearly its details pierce the dimming mists of time! I was at breakfast with a diminutive artist, name of Hasen. Casually I remarked on the excellence of our Spiegel Eier. He wept. My interest was piqued. “Why do you weep?” I inquired. “Because the Spiegel Eier tastes so good,” he simpered. That was all. But it was everything! Here indeed was the understanding heart for which I would have combed the world!… One more date in the saga of our collaboration fell on September 26, 1955. An important executive named Moe Reilly gave Dondi a job.
“How’s he doing?” you ask. Modesty forces me to admit that the kid is getting along so well that Hasen and I are now living the life of Reilly. In case you care, this is how we collaborate. I lock myself in a small-type room (you know where). Two days later, I stagger out with a whole roll— er, ream of scribbling. These brain squeezings I then boil down into the written material for six daily strips and a Sunday page. Since I can’t typewrite, I prepare two clean longhand copies, one of which I relay to Hasen. He takes it from there (and beautifully!). The other copy goes to editor Moe Reilly. Once a month, Hasen, Moe Reilly and I have food and beverages together to discuss Dondi’s future plights. We enjoy these bacchanalian revels very much because the Syndicate pays for them “
6. Dick Tracy
Dick Tracy, a prolific detective, has his keen eye ready to crack cases, even when he is mutated into squiggly, badly drawn lines. Chester Gould – “Fascinated by the comics since childhood, Gould quickly found work as a cartoonist. He was hired by William Randolph Hearst’s Chicago Evening American, where he produced his first comic strips, Fillum Fables (1924) and The Radio Catts. He also drew a topical strip about Chicago, Why It’s a Windy City. Gould married Edna Gauger in 1926, and their daughter, Jean, was born in 1927. “
Wasn’t it a wonderful trip to the 40’s? If you have anything to add, or just want to drop by and say hello, please feel free and do so by posting in the comments section below. We would love to hear from you!