As Sean Howe writes in his entertaining new book, Marvel Comics, The Untold Story, “Shortly before Christmas in 1949, a speaker system was installed in the artists’ rooms. The artists called it the ‘bitch box.’ Every so often you’d hear Stan Lee yell ‘so-and-so come into my office’ and you knew ‘so-and-so’ was being fired…”
One of those cartoonists fired was Al Jaffee. Over the next several years, Al started putting together multiple pitches for the comic syndicates hoping to sell a strip or gag feature. This work is fascinating for many reasons starting with getting to see Al still trying to figure out the style that he’d some day lock into. I was also amazed by Al’s range. In some pitches he’s drawing like Jack Kent, in others I wouldn’t be surprised if he was looking at his friend Will Elder and a just-getting-started Charles Schulz. Al told me that he was looking at what was selling and just trying to come up with something similar.
This work will be seen for the first time this Friday in White River Junction and be up through December 6. Gallery hours will be posted to the CCS homepage soon. Al himself will be in WRJ next Thursday. Since many of you won’t be able to make it to Vermont, I’ll be sure to post some more strips and images in the coming weeks.