Louie Reads Some Ghastly Comics

In the heart of every grown-up tyrannized, exploited, henpecked cringing little milksop lives an enthusiastic kid. (Or at least I hope so.)

Mild-spoken, well-mannered, and easily intimidated, Louie was created by British cartoonist Harry Hanan (who, it is told, rather resembled his creation). Louie was a perpetual victim of life’s vexations – bullied by a towering wife, mocked by colleagues, abused by neighbours, bitten by pets, let down by uncooperative furniture… Hanan described his character as “the anti-Superman”.

For once, poor Louie gets to have some fun. March 19th, 1972. Note the ever-so-slight smile on his face in the last panel… sweet.

However, Louie (and his creator) clearly had a sense of humour, if buried under layers of cowardice and mouse-like timidity. That’s what makes the strip so endearing, these occasional flashes of spirit and naughtiness. Hanan confessed to a having a « mischievous streak » in a 1952 interview with Erwin Knoll, admitting that « whenever he saw women with feathered hats he had to suppress the urge to snip the feathers off ».

This pantomime strip, syndicated by Chicago Tribune Syndicate, debuted in 1947 in The People (a London weekly tabloid). H.R. Wishengrad, head of Press Features, decided to export it to the United States and that’s how the strip crossed the ocean. Since it was silent and so needed no translation, it also appeared in more than 100 publications in 23 countries, including Turkey and Japan.

~ ds


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