Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Jocular Tales Of Anthropomorphism : Koko and Kola

Okay, while it’s true that it’s Superhero comics that I adore the most, I love the medium in almost all it’s genres and have a soft spot in my heart for Funny Animal strips. So I’ll be posting of and on about some of the delights to be found in that milieu.

This opening one is based on a fairly obscure strip but one that still looms large in my memory. When I was very young, my mom would occasionally stop at a convenience store in Opa-Locka, Florida called U-Totem. When she did, I’d immediately toddle over to the spinner rack. In one instance I spied a comic called TOM TOM THE JUNGLE BOY and begged mom to buy it for me. 

This book was one of the earliest that I ever owned and I’m very nostalgic about it. I enjoyed all the strips that were in it, which included Tom Tom, Judy and the Magic Chalk, The Pixies and Goofus the Gopher. But the one I adored most concerned two small koala bears named Koko and Kola. Here is the story I saw

Although I wished to find more issues, I never saw another. What I couldn’t know or understand was that I was looking at a reprint of a series that existed long before I was even born. The comic I’d gotten was published by the notorious Israel Waldman, a man who bought a trove of engravers plates from a printer that had produced comics for numerous publishers during the Golden Age. Reusing the plates, Waldman then issued the old material packaged with new covers. He got into some legal trouble by issuing one using Will Eisner’s “The Spirit” and another with EC stories. But for the most part the old publishers he was pirating were now out of business and could have cared less.

I later found that “Koko and Kola” were properties done by the publisher Novelty Press. Here are a couple more stories from KOKO AND KOLA #4.

I found (and still find) the artwork to be lovely and distinctive. The stories were fairly juvenile but are imbued with a sweetness that I still find attractive. Although I’ve researched the matter the identity to the cartoonist is still a mystery for me.


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