05/14/2018

Caleb Orecchio here with thoughts on Betsy and Me by Jack Cole, and other news.————————————————————————————

Hey comics lovers, doing alright? I’m doing alright. I’m a bit tired. My cousins, brother and brother-in-law destroyed me in spikeball on Sunday during a Mother’s Day get together, so I am also sore and a bit grass-stained from jumping and flailing around. They all had a good laugh about it. Good for them, I left all my dignity behind in the 7th grade so I’m happy to be the weird family member who rolls around in the grass during family games. Anyway.

Last week I wrote a bit about going to Copacetic Comics here in Pittsburgh and taking advantage of the Free Comic Book Day deals. Reading through my FCBD haul this past week, I was really taken with the collection of the short-lived Jack Cole strip, Betsy and Me. A really charming, funny strip about two parents and their genius son that only ran for a handful of months before Jack Cole bought a .22 and took his own life. Dwight Parks took over the strip after his predecessor’s death, but despite his strengths, could not live up to the legend of Jack Cole. The strip ran from May to December in 1958, Cole’s run ending in September.

In the introduction, siting such Cole biographers as Art Spiegelman and Ron Goulart, R.C. Harvey paints this ironic image of a man who at the height of cartooning power (having a daily strip), ended his own life. The couple in Betsy and Me (Chet and Betsy) have a son they so dearly love that it verges on absurdity, but in reality, the Cole’s could not have a child which they so definitely wanted. There is this dark musing on Cole’s part when you know this part of the story. He practically invents an ideal situation that could medically never happen. You can see the Sun set and turn to eternal night on our hero’s psyche. I recommend the book even if just for the Harvey’s introduction.

The strip itself expertly balances word and picture. There is a bobbing and weaving of narration, dialogue and action that unfolds in a very sophisticated way, and delivers a satisfying punchline most every time. There is nothing in the strip that would suggest this was the same cartoonist who invented Plastic Man, visually or otherwise, but the expertise and cartooning skills are present and undeniable. 

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if you don’t know, now you know

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Suzy and Cecil – 5-14-18 – by Gabriella Tito

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Caleb Orecchio

Caleb Orecchio

Caleb Orecchio is a cartoonist living in Dayton, OH. His strip, 'Joanie and Jordie', appears every weekday on the Comics Workbook Daily News. He hosts the weekly Dayton Comics Club with fellow cartoonist/designer, Jason Hart.
Caleb Orecchio

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