Here Comes the Barnaby Truck

“Barnaby exclusively in the Chicago Sun!” Here’s a photo of a Chicago Sun delivery truck in the 1940s. The occasion for sharing the photo is the quest for original Barnaby strips!  As readers of this blog know, Eric Reynolds and I are co-editing The Complete Barnaby for Fantagraphics.  We’re currently working on gathering strips from…

Crockett Johnson’s gonzo Bosco ad, c. 1960

In the late 1950s and early 1960s, Crockett Johnson worked with Lou Bunin on some television advertisements.  But he had a hard time taking Madison Avenue seriously, as indicated by his parody of an ad for Bosco chocolate syrup (below).  Though it’s undated, Johnson (known to his friends as “Dave” ) seems to have sent…

Barnaby. In Color.

Here is one origin story for Crockett Johnson’s classic Barnaby. At some point in early 1942, PM‘s Art Editor Charles Martin visited Crockett Johnson at his home in Darien Connecticut.  There, he saw a half-page color Sunday Barnaby strip.  Johnson had been unable to sell it.  Martin liked the strip, took it back to New York,…

The Debut of Crockett Johnson’s Barnaby

As comics scholars know, Crockett Johnson’s Barnaby made its debut in New York’s Popular Front newspaper PM on April 20, 1942.  But Barnaby and his fairy godfather Mr. O’Malley actually appeared in PM the week before.  All during the week of April 13th, the newspaper ran ads for Crockett Johnson‘s then upcoming comic strip, Barnaby….

Parry Gripp, Commercial Jingles, & Other Good Music

What ever happened to commercial jingles?  When I was growing up, it seemed to me that most products had their own theme songs: “My bologna has a first name — it’s O-s-c-a-r,” “Plop, plop, fizz, fizz,” “Hershey is the great American chocolate bar,” “What walks downstairs, alone or in pairs, and makes such a slinkety…

Crockett Johnson: Ford’s Out Front!

With a nod to the survival of the U.S. auto industry, here’s an ad campaign from when American automakers were thriving.  Created for Ford in 1947-1948, Crockett Johnson based these ads on his untitled cartoon, popularly known as The Little Man with the Eyes, which ran in Collier’s from 1940 to 1943.  In each cartoon,…

Corporate Seuss; or, Oh, the Things You Can Sell!

Random House’s newly updated Seussville website — featuring my biography and timeline — recently went live.  This is the first time I’ve written a piece for a corporation, but Dr. Seuss did it all the time.  Though he published his first children’s book in 1937, he made his living through advertising … until the bestselling The…

Ruth Krauss, mind-reader?

Is it just me, or does “This is the lady who knows what children think — BEFORE THEY DO” sound like the tag line for a horror movie?  You will be relieved to know that Ruth Krauss could not read children’s minds. But she was an excellent and sympathetic listener. In her earliest work, she…