Will Edwinson

Author & Storyteller

A Trip Down Memory Lane With Old Movie Serials and Comic Strips

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It seems whenever I run out of ideas for a blog post, something, or someone, comes to my rescue.  On one occasion I was scraping the bottom of my barrel of ideas, and coming up with nothing.  An accepted truism is, when you are wrestling with a problem for which you can’t seem to find a solution, it’s best to put it aside for a while.  So that’s what I did.  I tuned into the Turner Classic Movies movie channel for a little diversion, and whatta ya know, right there before my eyes was the fodder for this post.

Movie Film ReelThey were running a couple of the old movie house Superman serials. This brought to mind more memories of my early years going to the movies in the small village of Grace, Idaho during the 1940s..  Although I am supposed to have outgrown those kinds of shows, I must admit I was fascinated, and I watched the two Superman episodes playing on TCM that Saturday.  How many of you readers remember those serials consisting of 12 to 14 episodes that ran at the local movie house?  A good many of you, I bet.

Super Hero

Photo image courtesy of vectorolie/freedigitalphotos.net

Nearly every week, you will remember, the villains would get Superman into a predicament from which escape seemed impossible, and we would have to wait with bated breath until the following Friday night or Saturday matinee to learn his fate, and discover that he always found a  way out of his present predicament.

You probably remember, as I do, these serials weren’t confined only to Superman.  There were many others.  Another of my favorites was the Invisible Man.   The villain in that series had a device he hung around his neck.  He would switch it on and become invisible; and of course, he did all his misdeeds while he could not be seen.  It turned out in the end that the villain was a pillar of the community whom nobody ever suspected could be capable of such misconduct.  Many serials of a similar nature did eventually find their way to television.  But I think they were more fun to watch in the theaters.  There is something to be said for the electricity of the audience around you when the “scary” scenes arise.

That same day, following the Superman films, TCL ran a “one reel” short feature.  Remember those?  My favorite of those old “shorts” were The Pete Smith Specialties.  They usually featured a buffoon who tried to accomplish tasks that were beyond his expertise—and most likely, his intelligence—which always put him in a perilous situation. Others of the shorts of that era were Traveling America, The FBI Crime Stoppers, and Passing Parade just to name  two or three.

The short that TCL ran the day I was watching was the “Passing Parade.” It featured the old comic strips, or what we used to call the “Funny Papers.”  I’d forgotten many of these old comic strip characters until this film short brought them back to mind.  One favorite was Snuffy Smith.  Another was Bringing upFather featuring Maggie and Jiggs.  Jiggs, was the quintessential hen-pecked husband.

Others included Dick Tracy(the police detective who only showed us his profile) and his gal Friday, Tess, who was always waiting for him to show a romantic interest in her. It wasn’t until many years later that we got to see him in full frontal face view. Remember his friend Diet Smith and the space coupe that traveled through space using negative or reverse magnetic force fields, and the two-way wrist radio Diet Smith invented? And as a parody to Dick Tracy, there was the strip that featured Fearless Fosdick.

Who could forget the comic strip, “Blondie,” by Chick Young featuring Dagwood Bumstead, Blondie, his wife, the brains in the family, their two children, Alexander and Baby Dumpling, (who later became Cookie) and their faithful dog Daisy and her five puppies.  And also the paragon of indigestion, the twelve-layer  “Dagwood Sandwich.”

There was Little Abner with his wife Daisy Mae, Mammy and Pappy Yokum.  I don’t remember if Gravel Gertie was a Little Abner character, or if she was a Dick Tracy character.  I wanna say, Dick Tracy. If anyone remembers, leave a comment. Another strip was Little Orphan Annie, with her adopted father and guardian, Daddy Warbucks.  Daddy Warbucks was a billionaire, you remember, always dressed in a tuxedo with that huge diamond in the center of his dickey. And his head was shaved(he was probably the first skin head).  Always looking after her from afar was her proverbial protector Punjab; and her faithful dog, Sandy, was at her side.

There were many other favorites too numerous to mention here, but thank you, anyway, for coming with me on another short stroll along memory lane into the movie houses of yesteryear, and the “Funny Papers” of old.

LouIsa Cover PhotoNow, let me tell you about my latest book, LouIsa—Iron Dove Of The Frontier now on sale at www.amazon.com. You can go to the “Books” link at the top of this page and read more about her.  She is an interesting character.  I think you will like her.  She is truly an iron dove; a strong, yet feminine heroine. 

Also, “coming soon” is  SHADOW REVOLTION: Code Name Operation Achilles, which is a revised expanded version of my first novel, A Halcyon Revolution.  Look for it in the spring.  A description and excerpts will be forthcoming on the “In The Works” and “Books” pages later.


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