Marvelous Mike!

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Thanks to some new software that lets me process pictures more efficiently, here is my favorite comic strip from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Marvelous Mike! Written and drawn by Bob Kuwahara; the first episode ran in the Post, March 5, 1956. Here are the first three dailies from Post-Dispatch microfilm. Keep in mind that the Post was one of the few papers in the 1950s that ran their daily comics in color. The downside of that is that the colors, especially red, read as almost solid black on the microfilm. That, and the usual lateral scratches on the film, will mar this reprint, but given the strip’s rarity, I thought it was worth a shot.  Mike was an orphan, left on the family’s doorstep in the first episode;in the third strip, Dad inadvertently names the baby: “..for the love of MIKE!”  Wife: “That’s it dear, Mike!” Mr. Kuwahara was at the Disney studio in 1932 and may have been involved in the early development of “Baby Weems”.Mr. Kuwahara was involved in Snow White story meetings. There is quite a resemblance between Mike and Weems, as subsequent episodes will reveal.

I was eight when Mike appeared in the Post, evidently the ONLY paper in the USA which carried the strip. If you look at Mr. Kuwahara’s bio above, he created a strip named “Miki” which ran from 1945-1950. Perhaps “Marvelous Mike” is a re-worked version of “Miki”, translated from the Japanese? I notice a strong stylistic resemblance between the drawing in “Mike” and the Gandy Goose and Sourpuss comics of the St. John/Pines era, maybe Mr. Kuwahara drew those as well. There is so much I don’t know about Mr. Kuwahara, he was in an internment camp during WW II, and created Hashimoto-San for CBS Terrytoons in the early 1960s. Sources disagree about when he passed on, some say 1964, others 1966. He must be one of the first Japanese immigrants to do a US comic strip, and work in the pioneering days of sound motion picture cartooning. “Marvelous Mike” appealed to my sense of fantasy very strongly at eight years of age. The adventures of a genius baby must have been my fundamental power fantasy, after all, Mike was smarter than his “father”, and I longed to be smarter than my dad! Perhaps Mike came from another planet, the strip doesn’t reveal that. I loved this comic strip so much, that I clipped it out of the Postand lovingly saved it in a special box. I wanted to share my run of the strip with fellow classmates, so I foolishly took the box to school. It was stolen from me when I wasn’t looking, and I never found out who took it, and never got it back. Now all these years later, my brother in St. Louis is slowly and carefully copying a run of “Marvelous Mike” from St. Louis Post-Dispatch microfilm. Thanks, pal, for all you do, we all owe you one. Bear with me on the first six strips, as I copied these myself a long time ago. My brother’s copies are much better and larger. More Tyer Felix is in store, as well, from better scans. Happy New Year to all the world!

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