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Panel 1. Boody Rogers’ character, Babe, from the story “Mrs. Gooseflesh” (from BABE #4, 1949). The reason why Babe’s neck looks like this is because she had her neck broken in a wrestling match with the murderous female neck breaker, Two-Ton Gooseflesh. I love Boody Rogers’ drawings and characters. They’re reminiscent of Al Capp’s Li’l Abner, but Boody adds wacky surrealism to his stories and designs. Panel 2. Bob Wood, along with Charles Biro, created the true-crime comic book series, Crime Does Not Pay. Ironically, in 1958 Bob Wood would learn for himself that crime does not pay as he was sentenced to three years in prison for killing a woman in a NYC hotel room during a drunken argument. A year after his release, he was murdered by a former prison acquaintance over unpaid loans. This is a drawing taken from the title page of a Daredevil comic titled “The GHOST Meets the Claw’s Uncle.” Under the title in a circle is the disclaimer: “This is not a true story.” Panel 3. Milt Gross. What can I say? Gross is the creator of Count Screwloose of Tooloose and one of the most prolifically wacky cartoonists to ever walk the earth. This waiter character was taken from the comic book story, “Patsy Pancake” (Milt Gross Funnies No. 2 1947). At first glance Gross’ work is loose and sloppy, but a closer examination shows a master cartoonist in full grasp of gesture and design who’s goofy characters live in an equally goofy universe. Panel 4. This is a drawing of Hanna-Barbera’s con artist character Hokey Wolf (Daws Butler voiced him with a Phil Silvers impersonation). Designed by Ed Benedict? I don’t have any special love for Hokey Wolf – I just wanted to draw a Hanna-Barbera character. I loved the Hanna-Barbera cartoons when I was very young (they were always on TV), then I despised them as a sophisticated teenage animation connoisseur. Now as a working cartoonist I admire them for their smart, sleek design. Yogi Bear, The Flintstones, Huckleberry Hound, The Jetsons, Top Cat, and The Hillbilly Bears – they’re all so beautifully designed.
Order “The Underworld: From Hoboken to Hollywood” the omnibus collection of the very best of the strip’s 23-year run, with annotations, photos, and other surprises from the author (along with a foreword by Mutts creator Patrick McDonnell).