Saturday, August 29, 2009

Swan - The Art of George O. Swanson

One of my favorite cartoonists was George O. Swanson, creator of Salesman Sam, High Pressure Pete and, mostly famously, The Flop Family. Salesman Sam began as a daily on September 6, 1921 and a Sunday was added in December, 1922. The Flop Family started on August 29, 1943 (originally titled Dad's Family) and Swan continued to draw the strip until the day before he died, December 1, 1981. Along the way he also did a strip called Officer 6 7/8 and Elza Poppin. He also did some single panel strips called NONSENSE, a few of which are shown here.

The thing I love most about his work is what I think is the absolute essence of great cartooning. The cliches, the symbols, the props, the shapes, the caricatures of members of society, much like the stuff that you see in great strips like Boner's Ark or Sam's Strip by Mort Walker and Jerry Dumas, even Frank and Ernest by the late Bob Thaves.

Swanson was born in 1897 and sold his first strip at the age of 24. He had a good 60-year run at producing daily comic strips and surprisingly few people are familiar with his work or career.


At November 2, 2009 at 8:30 AM, Blogger Allan Holtz said...

Hi Bob -
You sent me a link to your blog, so here I be, and I brought my red editing pen with me!

* Salesman Sam started on the 26th, not the 6th
* the full title of Swanson's follow-up to Salesman Sam was "High Pressure Pete and Officer 6 7/8", the "Officer 6 7/8" part seemed to have only been tacked on 1936-38.

According to that eminent source, Maurice Horn, Flop Family ended on 1/2/82. I've never had any luck verifying that in a paper.

Best, Allan

At November 6, 2009 at 9:45 PM, Blogger Bob Foster said...

Thanks, Allan. I appreciate a good red editing pen.

The first Salesman Sam date might have been a typo. I have a copy the first strip (from the newspaper, not the original art), and I'll double check it for the date.

I believe the title High Pressure Pete was the way it appeared in the beginning, with "And Officer 6 7/8" being added sometime later. As I recall, when Officer 6 7/8 appeared in the strip he was the star for awhile, with Sam taking a secondary role.

Thanks for the red ink!


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