Tag Archives: Sunday color comics

Memory Lane: The Katzenjammer Kids

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The Katzenjammer Kids, at the hands of various artists and writers, were in newspapers and comic books for 109 years, starting in 1897, until 2006; and they’re still available in reprints.

They were in the Sunday color comics in my Grammy’s paper (but not ours), and I always looked forward to seeing what Hans and Fritz would get up to next. Looking back on it now, I wonder why they were so popular. Really, they weren’t nice at all–in fact, a couple of delinquents. Did they resonate with our sin nature, with some darkness in our souls? I can’t imagine trying to baby-sit for them: you might not live to tell about it.

Then again, perhaps they served a useful purpose, after all–an opportunity to let off steam without doing any harm. Hey, I watch the Three Stooges. That doesn’t mean I go around poking people in the eye and pulling chandeliers down from anybody’s ceiling. It means I laugh when they do it, because it’s so ridiculous. Maybe not as ridiculous as Okashii-yo-Cortez, but certainly more harmless.

I don’t know what I’d give to be at Grammy’s house again, reading the comics in her Sunday paper.


Memory Lane: A Quiet Sunday Afternoon

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It’s 1957 again, early Sunday afternoon. I’ve already been to Sunday school, we’ve had our Sunday dinner. Usually on Sunday we visit someone else in the family, or someone visits us; but not today. It’s raining, too early in the year for any baseball on TV, and everything has sort of wound down for a little while: a Sabbath rest.

As for me, it’s time to revel in the Sunday color comics. Prince Valiant. Mandrake the Magician. Flash Gordon. Blondie. Freckles and His Friends. Bugs Bunny. Oh, so many of them! An eight-year-old could spend half the afternoon, doing this. And of course my favorite, Mark Trail.

I didn’t care much for the black-and-white Mark Trail stories on the weekdays, I didn’t understand them, but on Sunday it was goodbye to all that, it was color, and it was one cool animal after another. I didn’t care if I was the only kid on the block who knew about wart hogs, four-eyed fish, and bolas spiders. This was stuff worth knowing! Today I call it God’s stuff. Creation. Back then it was just wonderful, I didn’t have a word for it.

It’s been decades since I’ve had a Sunday newspaper, so I have no idea if any of those old comic strips have been continued. If Mark Trail’s still there, betcha anything they took away his pipe.

But at least he’ll never run out of animals; and neither will we. God never skimped on His Creation.


Memory Lane: Major Hoople

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You may have heard me say “Fap!” now and then, and probably asked yourselves, “Did he say ‘fap’? What’s fap?”

I grew up with Sunday color comics in the newspaper, and one of my favorites was “Our Boarding House,” featuring Major Amos B. Hoople, a lovable pompous windbag whose wife, Martha, controlled him by making him go outside to beat the rugs. I wonder if anybody still beats rugs.

Anyhow, when the major’s at a loss for words, he often resorts to his customary exclamations, “Fap!” Usually followed by “Hak-kaff” or “Harrumph!” This sort of eloquence is seldom met with nowadays.

I am unable to confirm a report that Major Hoople left home to become a Diversity Reponse Team People’s Investigator at Fimbo University.


Memory Lane: Mandrake the Magician

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[Editor’s Note: I’m kind of steering clear of miserable news this weekend, although it seems to be costing me some readership. Oh, well…]

When I was a boy I looked forward to the color comics in the Sunday paper. Flash Gordon, Little Lulu, Archie, Mark Trail–and Mandrake the Magician. Lee Falk, who went on to create The Phantom, came up with Mandrake in 1934. The comic strip outlived its creator and only stopped running in 2013. I had no idea.

Mandrake the Magician always went around in his magician’s duds, along with his best bud, Lothar. Lothar wore a fez and a leopard skin, finally getting real clothes in 1965–after, I suspect, many a chilly winter. Lothar was an African chief with super-powers of his own. And there was Princess Narda to complete the team. She and Mandrake were engaged to be married, which they finally did in 1997. It was a very long engagement.

My favorite line in this comic strip–Patty and I still use it–was, of course, “Mandrake gestures hypnotically.” The subject, usually a bad guy, was instantaneously hypnotized to see and feel whatever Mandrake planted in his head. We may be thankful that Mandrake never entered politics.

To borrow a motto from World War II paratroopers, “It’s foolish but it’s fun!” I mean, really–always to be wearing a great big cape and high silk hat? Or leopard skin and fez? Don’t magicians ever change their clothes? Or do they just have whole closets full of capes and shiny dinner jackets?

Mandrake, I might add, was a personal friend of the Emperor of the Galaxy. It ensured him always to be able to find a parking space. If magic can’t do that for you, political pull surely will.


In Praise of Sunday Color Comics

Tomorrow I’ll go back to telling truths that will make the progs and lib’rals  mad at me. To honor God, I do try to refrain from doing battle on the Sabbath Day. By obeying His commandment to rest on that day, we proclaim our God’s sovereign lordship over His creation.

Among the pleasant memories that lower my blood pressure are the quiet Sundays of my childhood and, whatever the weather, the Sunday color comics. Crack of the bat and clink of horseshoes in the summer; Sunday school and maybe an afternoon at the movies, if my father was willing, in the winter: but in all seasons, the funny papers.

My folks stuck to the local New Jersey papers, but my grandparents, both sets of them, got the New York Daily News, so they had New York comics. I read those, although a few of the strips in the New York papers, like Moon Mullins and Gasoline Alley, I couldn’t quite get, and one or two others, like Smilin’ Jack, struck me as vaguely sinister. But our local papers didn’t have The Teeny Weenies or Smoky Stover, so I couldn’t afford to ignore the comics in my grandma’s Sunday paper.

But here at home, every Sunday–aah! Prince Valiant: Hal Foster’s spectacular artwork made the Age of Arthur come alive for me–and it still is. Mark Trail midwifed my lifelong fascination with bugs and snakes and other critters. And does anyone out there remember The Little People? And not forgetting one of my all-time favorite lines on a Sunday afternoon: Mandrake gestures hypnotically… And then there was Peanuts.

Stretched out on the floor, quietly reading the comics–there was something to be said for that. Not that it did me any spiritual good, that I know of (although certainly Mark Trail was for me a gold mine of information about nature); but I have since learned that I belong to my Lord seven days a week, for every minute, and I don’t think He minds if I enjoy some undemanding fun on a Sunday.

But those old comics are gone, and the new ones are distasteful.


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