Friday, June 09, 2006

Art Out Of Time: Part Four

The fourth section of Art Out Of Time: Unknown Comics Visionaries 1900-1969 (edited by Dan Nadel) is "Words in Pictures," focusing more on strips that excelled with their plots, dialogue and wordplay.

I really enjoyed the adventure/comedy strip from Boody Rogers entitled Sparky Watts in this section. It follows the title character, who shrinks unless he gets a dose of cosmic rays every once in awhile. Here, he doesn't get them in time, and he goes on a little adventure ala Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, but crazier. Featuring a really cute monkey and plenty of wacky bugs. And it's a quick read, which I appreciate sometimes.

Harry J. Tuthill's The Bungle Family really surprised me. I wasn't expecting much from it, but I really loved it. It's very much a slice-of-life strip. One page will be about imagining a bug brushing against you in the dark at night, but you don't see it when the lights are ablaze, another about trying to meet up with your partner when Christmas shopping and not recalling where you planned to meet, etc. They're really fun strips and I was sad when they were over, despite the hefty fourteen pages of them. A little strip called Hefty Brother ran along the top of The Bungle Family, and I may have enjoyed that more than the full page. Hard to say. It's all excellent stuff.

Hairbreadth Harry follows the protagonist Harry as he and a villain who appears in every strip, get revenge upon each other. It's pretty silly a lot of the time, as Harry turns into a baby when he jumps in the Fountain of Youth, the villain raises a pet dinosaur and tries to feed it people, Harry gets robbed and sewn into a bearskin, and so on, usually involving Harry getting the villain in the law's hands. It's fun.

Cecil Jensen's Elmo reminded me of Hairbreadth Harry a bit just because the protagonists of both are just so perfect and righteous (though Harry does have a little edge to him). In Elmo, the lead character is basically victimized by his boss, who doesn't like him. It's not really funny so much as weird, and very much an adventure strip, involving embezzlement and marketing.

The only strip I really didn't care much for in this section was Dauntless Durham of the U.S.A. by Harry Hershfeld, whick kicks the section off. There's a mischievous villain in this strip too who's after the main character and his girl, just like in Hairbreadth Harry, but many of the strips veer away from adventure and laughs and delve into lists. There's a series of strips that have several illustrations of things like a whale and a character will guess what the other character "should worry" pertaining to it. It's not particularly interesting or funny. The whale: "I should worry like a whale and blubber." And several other strips are just characters trying on different outfits. Very strange.

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