Bob Kuwahara’s “Barker Bill”


One of the “Holy Grails” of cartoon comic strips turned up in the Google News Archive! Direct from the Greensburg Daily Tribune we bring you some of the dailies that appeared in 1954-55, signed by Paul Terry, but drawn by Bob Kuwahara. Bob created “Marvelous Mike”, which has been reprinted almost complete here on this blog. The “Barker Bill” strip is a “hoomerous kontinooity”, with a touch of fantasy. I’m not sure exactly when “Barker Bill” started, but this strip from Nov. 8, 1954 is the earliest one in the Greensburg paper. We start mid-story as Bob Kuwahara introduces the “Gelt” from the African Veldt, a strange little character who does astonishing things (like eating paper money) to make Barker Bill’s top hat fly off. You will note that his hat flys off in nearly every strip, so he’s easily astonished. Puddy the Pup can talk in these strips, and is pretty intelligent, but he will only speak with Barker Bill. This reminds me of “Marvelous Mike”, the intelligent talking baby who would only converse with  his sister at first. The Greensburg paper only printed the strip four days out of the week, but at least we have SOME of the strip’s run to read again. It’s a minor work, only ran about a year, and evidently there was a Sunday page. Here are the next 7 strips in the collection:barker-bill-11-9-54.jpgbarker-bill-11-10-54.jpgbarker-bill-11-11-54.jpgbarker-bill-11-15-54.jpgbarker-bill-11-16-54.jpgbarker-bill-11-17-54.jpgbarker-bill-11-18-54.jpg I’m going to try to do these eight strips at a time, due to the strange way the Greensburg Daily Tribune printed them. Barker Bill originally appeared in the 1942 Technicolor cartoon “Happy Circus Days”, directed by Connie Rasinski. The early 1940’s cartoons were about as polished as Paul Terry animateds got. Barker Bill was animated principally by Carlo Vinci in the ringmaster’s first and only screen appearance. About 10 years later, 1953, the Barker Bill Cartoon Show debuted on CBS. This was one of the earliest old theatrical cartoon packages to appear on network TV, and created an audience for Farmer Al Falfa, Kiko the Kangaroo, Puddy the Pup, Dinky Duck and the other citizens of early 1930s Terrytown. Evidently, the show was successful enough that CBS made their offer for Terry’s studio and film backlog, which Paul Terry sold to them in 1955. Even though Paul Terry did not draw the Barker Bill strip, he DID draw Alonzo the Dog, here’s one of them: alonzo-6-26-09.png It’s from June 26, 1909, you can see more of them if you go to Allen Holtz’s “Strippers Guide” blog. Click the link over to the right hand side of this page.  I love the first and last panel in this strip, it shows the roots of Paul Terry’s slightly off-kilter drawing style that Jim Tyer eventually brought to imperfection in the Terrytoons of the 1950s. Paul’s brother John also worked on Alonzo in 1909. I don’t know if Paul Terry’s byline appeared on any other comic strips, let me know if you’ve heard of any.

felix-4-1-35.jpg felix-4-2-35.jpgfelix-4-3-35.jpgfelix-4-4-35.jpgfelix-4-5-35.jpgfelix-4-6-35.jpgfelix-4-7-35.jpgIn the Felix strip, this time from 4-1 to 4-7-1935, Felix’s keg is pulled from the ocean by the ship’s crew, who discover their gold tied to it. However, the keg containing Felix is cast back in the drink without even being opened. Felix’s latest chance to be a hero mascot is scuttled. He winds up on a jungle island, populated by strange birds. In the Sunday, Felix is still in Dreamland and manages to free himself from his bubble prison, saying his favorite word, “fine”, three times in one strip. The “Laura” topper expands to a third-page this week, replacing “The Sunny Side” feature.

krazy_vintage2-10-41.gifkrazy_vintage2-11-41.gifkrazy_vintage2-12-4.gifkrazy_vintage2-13-41.gifkrazy_vintage2-14-41.gifkrazy_vintage2-15-41.gif Krazy Kat, from 2-10 to 2-15-1941 has Offissa Pupp longing to become clairvoyant, or at least to read the criminal thoughts of Ignatz. In the 2-15, the Pupp wishes he could read Krazy’s thoughts, but the Kat’s mind is devoid of any, hence the very moody cross-hatching in the last panel of the 2-15.

patrick-12-12-to-12-17-66.jpg In the Patrick strip from 12-12 to 12-17-1966, Godfrey is clobbered twice, once by a snowball, then by Partick’s coat. Television provides amusement for both Patrick and Nathan, and Patrick tries to make a sweetheart deal with Santa in the 12-17.

With any luck at all, I’ll be around the Creative Talent Network Exposition this coming weekend, 11-18 to 11-20-2011. I’ll be at Jerry Beck’s table, come visit us there and maybe buy a cel or two from “It’s ‘The Cat'”, they make great Christmas gifts. A free DVD goes with every cel purchased. Jerry always has great cartoon books and chotskis to dispense as well. See you there!

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