Author Archives: Paul C. Tumey

Screwball Sunday: George Swanson on Screwball Cartooning, Part 1

In the fall of 1930, George “Swan” Swanson wrote and illustrated an illuminating essay on comic exaggeration in cartoons. His pointers succinctly outline his methods and provide insight into the art of over-the-top screwball cartooning. His lessons work as well today as they did 90 years ago. Chapter 12 in LOAC’s Screwball! The Cartoonists Who […]

Screwball Sunday: A Crazy Cat in George Herriman’s 1903 Jolly Jackies Farce

“Kitty! Kitty!” by George Herriman, September 6, 1903 Freshly hired as a staff cartoonist at the New York World, George Herriman scored an early success with his January-to-November 1903 Sunday series, Two Jolly Jackies, about the misadventures of two sailors on shore leave. “Jacky” was a popular term for a sailor, coming from “Jack Tar,” […]

Screwball Sunday: A Double Bill: Holman’s “Smokey” and “Spooky”

Smokey Stover and Spooky, August 8, 1936 For a while, Bill Holman’s silent Spooky topper strip enjoyed as much space as his top, um, Bill-ed star: Smokey Stover. Readers in 1936 were treated to two fine comics, each a celebration of nutty, over-the-top comedy. Today’s Screwball Sunday comic comes from Smokey Stover’s first year of […]

Screwball Sunday: Ving Fuller’s Doc Syke Meets a True Son of the Beach

Doc Syke – July 8, 1945 I have a friend who is a family doctor and we occasionally meet for coffee. Once, in perhaps a not-so-subtle hint, he told me how acquaintances tended to solicit free medical advice, to his great annoyance. After silently changing my mind about asking him to look at a little […]

Screwball Sunday: Professor Hamsniff Goes One Down and Two Across in Ahern’s “Squirrel Cage”

The Squirrel Cage July 4, 1937 by Gene Ahern Poor Ches and Wal. When they aren’t torturing each other with corny and surreal jokes in the panels of Gene Ahern’s sublimely ridiculous comic strip, The Squirrel Cage, Ches and Wal are deeply annoyed by the presence of other eccentrics in their proximity. Usually their foil […]

Screwball Sunday: Frederick Opper Tears Down the Presidential Candidate, Screwball Style

“Puck’s Life of Garfield”by Frederick Opper (Puck, September 8, 1880) Politics can certainly be pretty screwball. In fact, one of the primary antecedents to screwball comics is the political cartoon. Nowhere is this more obvious than in the comics Frederick Opper created for the Puck weekly. In today’s Screwball Sunday comic, I’ve selected a wonderful […]

Screwball Sunday: Hoban’s Non-Heroes: “Needlenose Noonan” and “Dis-Continued Stories”

Below: Dis-continued Stories/Needlenose Noonan by Gus Mager – December 9, 1934 There’s a lot of guff to lamp in this four-color fish wrapper, to briefly speak in the breezy, slangy style of Walter Hoban’s inept lawman. Hoban created Needlenose Noonan at the end of his career. With about a quarter of a century of experience […]

Screwball Sunday: A Publishing War on Main Street — Gus Mager Caught in the Crossfire

Main Street by Gus Mager – July 22, 1923 Why did Gus Mager create a syndicated Sunday comic page that looks so much like George McManus’s Bringing Up Father? Although no record has been found of Gus Mager stating that Main Street was ever meant to emulate—and at times lampoon—the flagship strip of King Features […]

Screwball Sunday: The Subversive Fool in Frederick Opper’s “King Jake”

King Jake by Frederick Opper – January 5, 1908 King Jake is a comic strip about the nature of humor. Specifically how what can be a real knee-slapper to one person is infuriating to another. And we, as the reader, get to observe both the jokester and his victims entwined in a series of causes […]

Screwball Sunday: Reflections and Shadows in Gene Ahern’s “The Squirrel Cage”

Above: The Squirrel Cage by Gene Ahern – December 13, 1936 You can’t outrace yourself but you can sure try hard. This is shown in today’s Screwball Sunday, an eructation-producing episode of The Squirrel Cage by that irrepressible devotee of ridiculous folly: Gene Ahern. Running as a topper to Ahern’s Room and Board from 1936 […]