Sunday, May 27, 2012

Single-Panel Comics By George Herriman And Paul Fung, 1930

(Click each for larger version)

Recently I picked up a massive cache of over 1,000 (gahhhh!) comic strip clippings from the San Francisco Call-Bulletin from the late 20s/early 30s. About 96% of them are the work of Jimmy Hatlo, and I've already featured some of those here. Hidden amongst the Hatlos were a few comics by other artists, and these four are my favorites. First up are two rare examples of the great George Herriman's seldom-seen Embarrassing Moments panel feature. Herriman drew this low-key daily for a few years beginning in 1928, concurrently with Krazy Kat. I suppose this was his attempt to do a more mainstream, popular feature, similar to his friend Tad's Indoor Sports, but Embarrassing Moments didn't seem to ever gain much traction. Too bad, because the drawings were, of course, wonderful:


Next up is something even more obscure, two Bughouse Fables panel gag cartoons drawn by Paul Fung. This feature was apparently invented by Barney Google creator Billy DeBeck in 1921, and later handed off to Fung, his assistant:


I had never heard of Paul Fung before, but just in the last week Allan Holtz has posted several items (here, here, here, and here) on this fascinating Chinese-American cartoonist at his endlessly valuable Stripper's Guide blog. Fung is a good example of a journeyman cartoonist, the type employed by the syndicates to assist their better-known feature artists. Basically, there were ten Paul Fungs to every one Billy DeBeck, if you know what I mean. Some of these journeymen ended up as famous cartoonists themselves: Ernie Bushmiller, for instance, started out as Milt Gross's assistant, just as Gross had been Tad Dorgan's office boy (and there you have the connection between my two favorite cartoonists). Li'l Abner's Al Capp learned the ropes on Ham Fisher's Joe Palooka, and later employed Frank Frazetta, of all people, to ink and letter his Sunday Abners. Paul Fung apparently never quite managed to break out of the minor leagues, and judging from these, it's a shame:

There something bizarrely minimalist about the above gag that is immensely appealing to me.

1 comment:

dianegsocialist said...

Guy on the right looks like Grampa Simpson's dad.

I agree, I really love this panel!