Caleb Orecchio here with a strip by Jimmy Swinnerton


Bad, Bad, Bad Mans by Jimmy Swinnerton, Seattle Times, June 12, 1910. From 100 Years of King Features, 2015

What a lovely strip from one of our earliest pioneers, Jimmy Swinnerton. What I enjoy about many of these early strips is the simplicity. The background is held for the entirety of the strip while the action unfolds without a hitch like a stage. I find this simple way of cartooning makes for seamless reading. The first panel sets the scene along with the players, and once you have understood that this is the environment (stage) and these are the characters you are free to sit back and “watch.” There is no effort on the readers part to evaluate changing settings or new characters. This, also, I think is the key to much of comedy in comics.

I think that this is why, for example, DeForge’s comics are so effective as humor. The characters look the same in every panel and their habitat is simply rendered. The words become the main focus because the reader has already downloaded the rest of the information right off the bat. And if the words and action are funny, the comic will be funny. Make sense?

I look at this Swinnerton comic all the time. It is a reminder that simplicity in comics speaks volumes once ink is laid to paper.


Niall Breen – 11-1-18

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