After coming home from church or Sunday school, for most of my childhood, one of my favorite Sunday pastimes was to read the color comics in the newspaper. Here are a few of my all-time favorites.
1. Prince Valiant by Hal Foster, launched in 1937 and continued to this day by Foster’s successors (he died in 1982). Was there ever more gorgeous artwork in any newspaper or magazine? I loved just to look at this strip; reading it was almost an afterthought.
2. Mark Trail, by Ed Dodd and his successors, first appeared in 1946. The Sunday version took a break from the weekly story-line to educate readers about wildlife, helped along by beautiful color illustrations. Boy, could you learn a lot about wildlife by reading this! It helped instill in me a lifelong fascination for wild animals.
3. Peanuts, by Charles Schulz, ran from 1950 to 2000. In its time it was the most famous and widely-read cartoon on earth. Charlie Brown’s perpetually futile efforts to kick the football continue to symbolize all sorts of real-life tribulations for all sorts of people. But I think the strips from the 50s and early 60s, before “Peanuts” became a global phenomenon, were the funniest and most creative.
4. Mandrake the Magician, by Lee Falk, who also gave us The Phantom, first appeared in 1934 and is still being produced by Falk’s followers. Who can forget that dramatic phrase, “Mandrake gestures hypnotically…”? Don’t you wish you could do that! (Well, you can–but nothing much will happen except to make people think you’re a kook.)
5. The Teenie Weenies was cranked out every Sunday by William Donahey from 1914 to 1970–a good run! You’ve gotta love the idea of these little tiny people living just out of sight: a whole little world, with everything that that entails. Imagine what they could get up to today, if they had access to our computers while we were asleep.
I could go on, but I’d rather let you, faithful readers, expound on some of your favorites. To be nine years old, and spread the color comics section on the floor, and lie down to revel in it for an hour–it’s hard to beat those simple pleasures.