Tippy Teen in “The Fright Before Xmas” (1967)

« … there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
tore open the shutters and threw up the sash. » ― Clement C. Moore, A Visit From St. Nicholas (1823)

Not too long ago, we glanced at the interesting case of Tower’s teen line, another instance of works insufficiently popular to be properly reprinted, yet still sought after by collectors and aficionados and consequently on the pricey side. And so it is within this limbo that Tippy Teen and Go-Go and Animal find themselves consigned, in the rather fine company of Sugar and Spike and Angel and the Ape. Let’s not strand them there for the duration, please.

So why do I consider Tippy Teen superior to Archie? For one thing, while there’s some underwhelming artwork to be found here and there (sorry, Doug Crane), there’s nothing dismal (no Al Hartley, no Dick Malmgren, no Gus Lemoine, no Stan Goldberg…), and the writing is generally superior, thanks to, among uncredited others, the great Jack Mendelsohn (recycling and updating his old scripts, but that’s not the end of the world).

Here’s a little seasonal piece I find quite witty and charming. The well-paced work of an anonymous scripter and my beloved Samm Schwartz, it appeared in Tippy Teen no. 18. The whole issue’s quite solid, and since it’s in the public domain, you can enjoy it right here.


This is Tippy Teen no. 18 (March 1968, Tower). Cover artwork by Samm Schwartz.
What kind of a grinch would I be if I failed to include the Monkees pin-up promised on the cover? I shudder to even entertain the notion. In the usual order, Messrs. Peter Tork, Mickey Dolenz, Davy Jones and Michael Nesmith.


Peter Tork, Man of Music… and of Comics

« I know she’s having a fit, she doesn’t like me a bit, no bird of grace ever lit on Auntie Grizelda » — Diane Hildebrand / Jack Keller, 1966

Now’s the time to wish Peter Halsten Thorkelson, he of the open, Nordic look, a most joyous 77th birthday, regardless of what Your Auntie Grizelda may think!

Pete was born in Washington, D.C. on February 13, 1942, which makes him the doyen of the group. Like Mike “Wool Hat” Nesmith, he was a musician first, likely the group’s most instrumentally proficient. Peter wound up auditioning for the tv show after his name was suggested by Stephen Stills, who wasn’t quite right for the part… but definitely a good sport.

Peter and his fellow Monkees were featured in their own Dell comic book (is there any greater honour?), which lasted from March, 1967 to October, 1969, seventeen issues in all (with some reprinting.) That was one of Dell’s few savvy moves in their waning days, and one of their few readable titles outside John Stanley‘s output.

Peter the muse. From ‘Way-Out’ West, The Monkees (1966, Popular Library). See below!
This cute lil’ volume contained a bunch of fun (what else) Monkees romps written by Howard Liss and ably illustrated by Eisner- Iger Studio veteran Gene Fawcette.
José Delbo‘s splash page from Beezle, Beezle, Who’s Got the Beezle?, The Monkees no. 8 (Jan. 1968, Dell). Scripter unknown… but he’s pretty good.
The issue in question: The Monkees no. 8 (Jan. 1968, Dell)
The Monkees no. 4 (Sept. 1967, Dell)
The Monkees no. 14 (Oct. 1968, Dell)
Ah, but Dan Clowes has known it all along! From Eightball no. 13 (Apr. 1994, Fantagraphics)

Update: Peter Tork passed away on Thursday, February 21, 2019, barely a week beyond his 77th birthday. Au revoir, Peter!


Did you write a letter to Davy, Peter, Micky or Mike?

« If you did, you may find your letter printed in this book… If you haven’t written The Monkees yet, join the fun that’s going on inside this crazy, lovin’ book. »


In 1967, the phenomenal Jack Davis (1924-2016), as prolific and versatile as an artist can get, provided twenty-one original cartoons and the cover to this snazzy little tome issued by the Popular Library.

Dear Davy — I am one of your greatest fans. I have all the Monkees records that have been released so far. But I have one problem. I played your first record so much that it began to melt, and now it wobbles so much that I can’t play it anymore. I know it’s not your fault, but I don’t think it’s fair that I should be punished for being such a Monkee-lover. I think the record company ought to give me my money back so I can buy a new album. You could even think of it as a kind of award for loyalty or something. Please, Davy, talk to the record company and make them send me the money? Yours truly, Diana V., Charleston, SC
Dear Mike — You know your record ‘Gonna Buy Me a Dog’? Well, if you really want a dog, I have a three-month-old Great Dane that a friend gave me six weeks ago that I have to get rid of. He’s a little too playful. Last week he knocked over my mom’s favorite vase and my kid brother. His name is Linus, but he’s not too attached to it.
Your fan, Steve R., Coral Gables, Fla.
Dear Monkees — I like your group very, very much. You probably never heard of Varna. It’s a little town near Ithaca. I wrote a poem for you:
I think the Rolling Stones are great,
I think the Beatles are fine,
On the other hand,
I think the Monkees are DIVINE.
Your fan, Jeannie G.
Dear Monkees — My name is Wendy. I like your records. Please send me a picture of you. I forgot all your names so please put your autographs on the pictures.
Sincerely, Wendy K., Butte, MT
Dear Davy Jones — I like your shows very much. I like all your songs too. I like all your clothes and your hair. You are very very cute. You better come to Wichita or I’ll smash you one.
Lover, Carol K., Wichita
Dear Monkees — Please send me Davy Jones in the mail. Send it to Cindy L, Louisville, Kentucky.

In closing, I see Micky Dolenz (b. March 8, 1945) turned seventy-three… yesterday. Happy belated birthday, Corky!