Begun as a blog to unload (or upload) all the information I'd accumulated in my decades of research into Martin Goodman and all his published product ... comic books, pulps, magazines and digests, I've often veered here into my other obsession, the history of the New York Sunday News comics. At the age of 56, I'm still knee-deep in both worlds of research, even moderating two Facebook groups devoted to each topic. This post will happily merge the two, in a way of sorts. Comic Books and Sunday Comics. You'll see what I mean below as there's always a method to my madness.
So yeah, I spend all my free time immersed in newsprint, either the 10 cent four-color stapled variety, or the tabloid-sized folded variety.
The rest were old News icons like Walter Berndt's Smitty, Martin Branner's Winnie Winkle, William Donahey's The Teenie Weenies, Stanley Link's Tiny Tim (which ended with Link's death on Christmas eve), Bill Holman's Smokey Stover, Al Posen's Sweeney & Son, Jay Irving's Pottsy, Timmy by Howard Sparber and Smilin'Jack by Zack Mosley. Fillers, depending on the ad space being sold, could be a compilation of Reamer Keller spot gags, Gill Fox's Bumper to Bumper, or one of several fillers by Henri Arnold, This Man's Army or Bibs 'N' Tucker.
And, of course, there were the Westerns. In the 1950's, there always were Westerns! A staple of early television and film, Westerns were rampant across entertainment media. The early 1950's saw the best one, Hopalong Cassidy debut by Dan Spiegle. This was one beautiful Sunday strip that resonated with all the colors of the West. I don't know if it ever was reprinted but I'm going to highlight it here in the future. Late 1957 saw the launch of Jed Cooper, American Scout by Rick Fletcher in this paper (It began in 1949 elsewhere, running until 1961).
End of Interlude
I begin scanning.... First Dick Tracy and then Little Orphan Annie on the reverse. I then jump to the back page and scanned Gasoline Alley followed by full tab page Terry and the Pirates, and Moon Mullins. Back to half tabs Pottsy, Smitty, Teenie Weenies, Tiny Tim and Smokey Stover. And that was it. Missing from the two lost interior wraps were Winnie Winkle, Smilin' Jack, Sweeney & Son, Brenda Starr Reporter, Timmy and Dondi.
Oh, also there was Davy Crocket, Frontiersman, but already seen, I never scan this feature. Then briefly glancing at the strip, I thought maybe I'd scan it this one time and have at least one Sunday section for my files. So without too much thought, I place it down on the scanner bed and scan the strip. Usually I don't pay too much attention to an image as it slowly appears across my computer screen during a scanning, but the slow creep at 300 dpi caught my attention. As the image loaded the art really jumped out at me and I was struck at how bold it was. It was real good, better than I'd ever noticed before on this feature. The characters stood nobly at attention and struck very "familiar" poses, as something strangely gnawed at the back of my head. Wait a minute, it couldn't be.... I grabbed the Sunday section off the scanner bed and look at it closely. THIS WAS JACK KIRBY!!!
Jack Kirby??? Was this possible? Did I ever hear about this before? I wracked my brain, recalling that he had ghosted Johnny Reb for Frank Giacoia for a few strips. This was about the same time as that, so it certainly was possible. Of course it was possible! My eyes don't lie!. A search online turned up a reference to this in a post on the Jack Kirby Museum site HERE. The author relates a search after Kirby Davy Crockett French reprints surfaced, and comparison to Kirby's Davy Crockett work for Harvey Comics, and that he ghosted the newspaper strip for 3 weeks, with the further comment that it was unknown or even doubtful that Kirby had done the Sunday strip in that time.
Well, I can answer that question... He did! February 24, 1957 in the NY Sunday News comics......
My feeling here is that he likely inked this himself and truthfully, I don't know if he did the following week also.I don't have the following week's Sunday section.
The circumstances that lead up to this "ghosting" of the strip are speculation but Kirby's long-time relationship with Eddie Herron probably had a lot to do with it. Losing work after Martin Goodman lost his distributor in the Spring of 1957 certainly led to seeking other avenues of income. Kirby lost both the Yellow Claw feature and a newly launched Black Rider comic book. Scrambling for work, Kirby and Herron hooked up in some capacity leading to a tenure of about 3 weeks on the Davy Crockett strip, including at the very least, this Sunday page. Later, of course, Jack Kirby would launch his own Sky Masters newspaper strip in 1958 with Dave Wood, lasting through 1961.
Following this short sojourn by Jack Kirby, the art chores were taken over by Jim Christiansen, who I felt better suited to the feature than McArdle. Trained in the Tom Gill studio on The Lone Ranger comic book for Dell, Christiansen also drew the Nero Wolfe comic strip for the same Columbia Features, Inc. syndicate. The Tom Gill influence is very evident on his pages, so much so it makes me wonder if Gill's hand is here in some capacity.
The New York Sunday News ran their last Davy Crocket, Frontiersman Sunday on August 25, 1957. The strip was replaced the following week by Leonard Starr's masterpiece, On Stage. It's alleged that Davy Crockett lasted elsewhere as late as 1959 but I do not have corroboration on this. If anyone has further data on that, I'd be extremely appreciative if you could please pass that information on to me
Here is the rest of the aborted, truncated, half-section off the pile of "incompletes". At the very end afterwards I will also present my collection of Davy Crockett Sundays by McArdle and Christiansen (and Jack Kirby). The collection is not complete but consists of the 35 Sundays I've been able to acquire.
New York Sunday News Comics of February 24, 1957 (truncated half-section) :
- Dick Tracy by Chester Gould
- Little Orphan Annie by Harold Gray
- Terry and the Pirates by George Wunder
- Moon Mullins by Ferd Johnson (Frank Willard's signature is printed but the strip is all Ferd Johnson, who finally gets the by-line in 1958)
- Smokey Stover by Bill Holman
- Pottsy by Jay Irving (A NY News Syndicate strip, this may have "only" run in the NY Sunday News)
- Smitty by Walter Berndt
- The Teenie Weenies by William Donahey
- Tiny Tim by Stanley Link
- Gasoline Alley by Bill Perry
And finally, my 35 Sunday collection of DAVY CROCKETT, FRONTIERSMAN, stretching from November 6, 1955 to the final Sunday carried by the NY Sunday News, August 25, 1957. The very next week it was replaced by Leonard Starr's ON STAGE.
November 20, 1955
February 5, 1956
March 4, 1956
April 1, 1956
May 27, 1956
June 3, 1956
July 15, 1956
July 22, 1956
September 16, 1956
September 23, 1956
September 30, 1956
October 7, 1956
October 14, 1956
November 18, 1956
November 25, 1956
December 2, 1956
December 9, 1956
January 27, 1957
February 10, 1957
February 24, 1957 - Art by Jack Kirby (pencils/inks) !!!!!
April 14, 1957
April 21, 1957
May 5, 1957
June 2, 1957
June 9, 1957
June 16, 1957
June 30, 1957
July 7, 1957
July 28, 1957
August 18, 1957
August 25, 1957