Hallowe’en Countdown V, Day 11

« We see light, not dark. But it is in the dark that we feel goblins and ghosts. » — Rex Brandt

The ever-creative Tom Eaton‘s Oliver Cool (1975-79) always reserved a special treat for Hallowe’en. In past countdowns, I’ve shared the first (1975) and second (1976) entries devoted to the beloved occasion, and here is the final pair.

From Young World Volume 14 no. 8 (Oct. 1977, The Saturday Evening Post Company).
Eaton’s Fizz & Farra In the Year 2250 strip ran concurrently in Young World’s sister publication, Child Life. This seasonal cover by Arthur Wallower was simply too good not to include.
From Young World Volume 15 no. 8 (Oct. 1978, The Saturday Evening Post Company).
As a bonus, here’s one item some of you monster kids may fondly remember: Monster Stand-Up Greeting Cards (1980, Scholastic). Pricey these days, from the look of it.


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


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.

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.


Here’s a moving obituary for this fine man.


Hallowe’en Countdown, Day 29

« Hasn’t the weather been gray, drizzly, foggy and oppressive? »
« Yes, just lovely! »


Tom Eaton’s Oliver Cool strip appeared in The Saturday Evening Post Company’s Young World. YW had picked up, in 1972, the numbering (but not the title) of Western Publishing’s Golden Magazine. Of writer-illustrator Tom Eaton, little is to be found online, though he’s left a considerable body of work, such as fun books like Chicken-Fried Fudge and Other Cartoon Delights (1971), Captain Ecology, Pollution-Fighter (1974), Book of Marbles Marvels (1976) and The Beastly Gazette (1977). His Fizz & Farra in the Year 2250 comic strip also ran in Child Life magazine in the late ’70s.

A snatch of autobiography found on the back cover of Captain Ecology, circa 1974: « Tom Eaton is probably 30 or 40 years old, and lives with a tribe of baboons in a water tower on the outskirts of Chanute, Kansas. He writes and draws everything himself, with almost no help from his dog, Oscar. This is not his first book. His goal in life is to buy the state of Massachusetts and change its name to something he can spell. »

The issue in question bore a spiffy Halloween-themed cover by George Sears… so here it is.

– RG