Thursday, April 26, 2018


(w/a: Al Shean)

Al Shean boasts an interesting lineage, being the son of the vaudeville performer of the same name, of the comedy duo Gallagher & Shean. The elder Shean's sister was Minnie Marx, rather famously the mother of the Marx Brothers, making this Al Shean a first cousin to Groucho, Chico, Harpo and all the other Marx Brothers we like to pretend "contributed" to the comedy. They did their best, anyway. There's a reason that Gummo went into the raincoat business, you know...

Anyway, Al Shean's "Clyde" borrows no limit of material from the old vaudeville stage gags. A Tarzan of the Apes type, Clyde is the son of a vacationing opera singer (thus the famous Tarzan-like call) who becomes lost in the jungles of Africa, making a life for himself among the disinterested lions and other fauna. Joining in his adventures is Shirley, his loving wife whom he can nonetheless not distinguish from a jungle cat or a chimp. Clyde had some wild times in the jungle, it seems.

The gags are rapid-fire and cry out for rimshots. It's "setup / punchline / setup / punchline" throughout the relatively sparse content. When last seen, CLyde was off to London to acquire more bon-bons for Shirley, although how he'll recognize her when he gets back, who can say?

The Wham-O Fun Factory
(w/a: Virgil Partch)

Wham-O Giant Comics had apparently made the most of CARToons and Hot Rod artists, as well as some handy storyboard and advertising guys. VIP was a bit of a surprise. Best known for his naughty cocktail napkin gag panels, I reckon (or at least that's how I best recognize the guy's work), he turns in a plenty-enjoyable cutaway view of the Wham-O Fun Factory deeply involved in making their primary product, FUN (i.e. balls). 

Has the yen for collecting 20th century cartoonists' complete works in oversized, lovingly-restored volumes become passe? Because I'd support a Partch collection along those lines, from Big George to this and all the saltiness in-between ...


top_cat_james said...

If "Clyde!" seems reminiscent of vine-swinging doofus, George of the Jungle, its no accident - Shean was a character designer at Jay Ward's cartoon studio. And spouse Shirley is no doubt named after his colleague there, Shirley Silvey.

I guess you missed the large tome published by Fantagraphics Books five years ago celebrating VIP's work, "VIP: The Mad World of Virgil Partch". Highly recommended if you're a fan.

Jonathan Morris said...

I am on my way to pick up a copy and thanks so much for the additional information on Shean. This is stupendous information, would you mind if I elevated it out of comments and into the main body of the article with attribution?


Unknown said...

I love the work of VIP. My dad had several of his paperbacks which I would read as a kid. Might explain my strange sense of humor. ;-)

Was reading a book on Disney animation and was surprised to learn he started as an in-betweener there before becoming a magazine cartoonist.


top_cat_james said...

Be my guest.

If you'd like to learn - and see - more of Shean's (and Silvey's) design work, there's another excellent coffee-table book to consider, "The Art of Jay Ward Productions" by Darrell Van Citters.

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