Hallowe’en Countdown III, Day 28

« As worthless a collection of crackpot notions and harebrained theories as I’ve ever seen in print! » — Graymatter McCogitator III, Chairman, National Academy of Very Smart Persons

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This Oliver Cool strip (we featured another one a couple years back) saw print in the October 1976 issue of Young World. While both strip and publication are just about forgotten, they’re worth a look… but then I have a soft spot for comics produced outside the comics industry proper (if you can call it that); in many cases the ‘product’ reaches a wider audience, but the tradeoff is that it’s a far more casual public.

I’ll readily concede that I’m pretty forgiving when it comes to the scripting of strips aimed at young readers, as the authors are forced to navigate a myriad of oft-needless and downright asinine hurdles in their efforts to amuse, entertain and, yes… even enlighten.

Oliver Cool’s creator and delineator, cartoonist Tom Eaton (1940-2016), as he was born in Wichita, Kansas, inevitably passed through greeting card maven Hallmark‘s art department (as did Brad Holland, Robert Crumb and Russell Myers), going on to work as an art editor for Scholastic Book Services, who issued several of his books in the 70s.

Apparently, though, if he’s to be remembered for anything, it may be for his extended stint as resident cartoonist of scouting magazine Boys’ Life (1984-2015), most significantly on The Wacky Adventures of Pedro, featuring the mag’s ‘mail burro‘, introduced in the 1950s. Take a gander at this (naturally) eye-opening article by R.C. Harvey on the subject.

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This is Young World Vol. 13, no. 8 (Oct. 1976). Speaking of the Winchester Mystery House, you owe it to yourself to read Alan Moore‘s tour-de-force Ghost Dance (Swamp Thing no. 45, Feb. 1986, DC), illustrated by Stan Woch and Alfredo Alcala, the definitive WMH spooky tale. In the context of Moore’s American Gothic cycle, it felt a bit incidental, practically a non sequitur, but it’s damn powerful stuff. Psst: check it out here.

Bonus-wise, here’s a pair of recent-ish Pedro strips. At this point, Eaton’s crisp line and meticulous layout bring to my mind the qualities of another Midwestern cartooning wunderkind, Rick Geary.

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Here’s a moving obituary for this fine man.

-RG

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