Last time in this space we showed off some clipped strips that “Friend of LOAC” Bill Chadbourne shared with us. One strip. Tug Transom, had come from the pages of that venerable semi-professional publication, The Menomonee Falls Gazette. For six-plus years during the 1970s the Gazette was dedicated to the appreciation and preservation of the adventure comic strip; it picked up its name from the hometown of editor/publishers Jerry Sinkovec and Mike Tiefenbacher, and any given issue typically ran a week’s worth of each featured strip.
As many of us do when we scan newspaper items, I looked at what was on the reverse of the Tug Transom strips I was preparing for use. It quickly became clear they formed an advertisement for an art portfolio — The STreet Enterprises Benefit Portfolio, in fact (STreet Enterprises being the official name of the company publishing the Gazette, evolving from the last names Sinkovec and Tiefenbacher). The list of artists showcased in this 1975 collection was so impressive, I went to the Web to see if a copy of the Portfolio might be available for purchase — only two thousand copies were printed, so it was no lock anything would be in the marketplace. Yet there was, and I did, and wowee-wow-wow, what a delight this is for any comics fan, as this sample helps prove (click images throughout for an isolated view of each):
Though many delightful comic-book-focused pieces are contained in the Portfolio — for example, Frank Thorne provided a spot-on interpretation of Joe Kubert’s DC World War I antihero, Enemy Ace, with Bob Brown delivering a mid-air kiss shared by Marvel’s Daredevil and the Black Widow — I’m including comic-strip-focused images here. Some artists chose the same subject for their contributions: below I’ve sandwiched Flash Gordon interpretations by Gray Morrow and Tom Palmer around Austin Briggs’s depictions of Flash and his friends (plus Jungle Jim and Shanghai Lil). This latter piece was contributed to the Portfolio out of the personal collection of Max Allan Collins, who of course provided introductory essays for each issue of our own Dick Tracy series.
Similarly, below you’ll find two interpretations of Red Barry, one by King Features mainstay Fred Fredericks, plus head shots of Barry and The Flame by their creator, Will Gould. Both the Gould entry and Ham Fisher’s rendering of Joe Palooka and Morris Weiss were included in the Portfolio thanks once again to Max Allan Collins. Meanwhile, Jim Steranko provided a look at one of his original concepts, titled Enforcers — and longtime LOAC readers will remember the masterful introduction Steranko provided to our Scorchy Smith and the Art of Noel Sickles volume.
In a final, amusing note, the Portfolio‘s back cover featured Dick Moores bringing together family patriarch Walt Wallet with Jim Hardy, who starred in a newspaper strip that Moores drew from 1936 to 1942. The scene echoes the pivotal Gasoline Alley foundling-in-a-basket moment in which Walt discovered Skeezix, the boy he adopted, watched grow, and who eventually started a family of his own during the years through which the Alley bunch were guided first by artist Frank King and subsequently by Moores himself. Walt seems far grumpier about finding Jim Hardy abandoned on his doorstep than he did about finding Skeezix!
All of which brings us around to the title of this posting — if Bill Chadbourne had not clipped those particular individual Tug Transom strips, and if their flip sides had not combined to form the ad for the Portfolio, I would have never known of its existence. If I had not been able to find a copy to buy, I’d have been unable to gather the images I’ve shared with you here (and enjoy all the other excellent artwork contained in the Portfolio, of course!).
There are still other links in this particular fragile chain of events, however, so keep watching this space in the days ahead. I’ll be sharing with you another purchase I made at the same time as the Portfolio, a purchase that should also be of interest to comic strip fans like us! Part Two to follow …