Misanthropic and petty, scheming and nagging, reviled by their neighbors and barely tolerable to themselves, The Bungle Family was the quintessential domestic comic strip of the 1920s. Critical historians like Bill Blackbeard, Rick Marshall and Art Spiegelman have singled out Harry J. Tuthill’s masterpiece as an especially dark and pointed critique of the modern petit bourgeoisie. But George, Jo and Peg Bungle were really the penultimate satirical family of 20s strips. George was no more a man on the make, looking for that get-rich-quick invention or financial scheme, than Barney Google, A. Mutt or even Andy Gump. His wife Jo was no less socially self-conscious and ambitious, nor more of a nag, than Jigg’s Maggie. And Jo wasn’t even in the habit of throwing things. Nor was the Bungle family dysfunction any worse than the in-fighting at Moon Mullin’s boardinghouse.Continue reading
Monthly Archives: May 2022
Damn Commies!: Twin Earths (1952)
Wimpy Gives Popeye a Sissy Lesson
In early 20th Century theater and film, the “sissy” was the dreaded antithesis of two-fisted pulp hyper-masculinity, at best, and at worst was a stereotypical euphemism for what was unspoken in general culture, homosexuality. Wimpy, the dandyish, appetite-driven counterpoint to Popeye’s principled violence, is of course Popeye’s best tutor for all things “sissy.” To make this sexual dynamic even weirder we have Popeye’s Pappy bewildered by his prancing progeny. It reads like an unintended burlesque of Popeye “coming out”. Per a previous post, These dailies precede Popeye deceiving the underground demons to come up and fight.
It is important to note that this gender-bending sequence was followed immediately by another adventure cycle involving Popeye getting the crap beaten out of him in a land of highly muscled women. And this is all happening right after E.C. Segar’s death in October 1938. The strip was being continued unsigned by assistants for the time being.
- Sophisticated Shadows: The Inner Worlds of Carol DayU.S. readers never got to experience one of the most visually arresting and subtle narrative comic strips of the 1950s and 60s, David Wright’s (1912-1967) Carol Day. Syndicate editors on this side of the pond […]
- The Banality of Villainy: Syd Hoff Eats the RichCaricature, when done well, is the art of clarification through exaggeration. Which is not the same thing as simplification. The best caricaturists exaggerate, enhance, underscore and highlight some physical or character attributes that express a […]
- Flashing Flash: Or, A Paper Doll That I Can Call My OwnPaper dolls and cut-out toy models are centuries-old, but the format was a natural fit for the modern newspaper comic from its beginnings. We tend to identify the comic strip paper doll with “women’s strips” […]
- Gottfredson’s Mickey: The Art and Science of ActionBefore becoming the anodyne logo of Disney’s saccharine-soaked family image during the post-WWII era, Disney’s Mickey Mouse had some heroic chops. Make no mistake, Mickey was never even remotely “edgy” let alone hard-boiled in the […]
- Before the Fold-In, Al Jaffee’s (1921-2023) Tall Tale TellingWith the sad passing of Al Jaffee this week, cartooning lost its oldest and longest-working artist. In fact, the man behind 55 years of MAD magazine Fold-Ins held the Guinness Book of World Record for […]