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.
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.
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
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
later found that “Koko and Kola” were properties done by the
publisher Novelty Press. Here are a couple more stories from KOKO AND
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.
1953 and 54 the small outfit called Toby Publishing took their stab
at the Riverdale sweepstakes by introducing Merton Muddle in the
pages of MEET MERTON.
lived a familiar teenaged lifestyle vexed by a rival named Chris
Cross and enjoying the company of a best pal called Calories Casey.
However most of Merton’s troubles came from through his
relationship with two girls, the strawberry blonde Marcia and the
brunette coiffed Joann. Take for example “What Goes Up!”
is a tad different from Archie in that he is nowhere near a girl
crazy as the ol’ carrot top. Witness the exchange with his dad on
page two of “Love And Let Love”
cartoonist for the strip was Dave Berg, the guy who would later be
responsible for the “Lighter Side” strips in Mad Magazine. His
cartooning is pretty loose in Merton, no where near as tight as his
Mad stuff. But I’m convinced that Merton’’s dad was the
prototype to his character ‘Roger Kuputnik”.