Saturday, January 27, 2018

Syd Hoff in College Humor, September 1937

The September 1937 issue of College Humor saw cartoonist Syd Hoff achieve  another five-bagger—that's a bowling term for five strikes in a row—or in this case five cartoons published between the covers, and all of them full-pagers at that. No other cartoonist appeared in College Humor with this frequency. Peter Arno was more popular but he was also more expensive, and he never had more than two pages, usually with three cartoons, in each issue. Hoff's cartoons seem to cover more acreage per issue than the other cartoonists.

It's easy to see why he was in such demand. His cartoons are bold, appealing, and broadly comic. His characters have personalities, and strong ones. His women are assertive; his men are out of their depth. So many of the lesser College Humor cartoonists seem like fashion illustrators uncertain how to make a drawing look amusing. Every Hoff cartoon jumps right out at the viewer and demands attention and at least a smile. 

What's going on in this first cartoon? The word masher has lost its punch these days and sexual harassment has been in way too many current headlines. But the boy and the police officer seem bewildered enough that we can take this cartoon to be primarily about the girl's no-nonsense attitude.
"I want to report a masher!"
Syd Hoff
College Humor, Vol. 6, No. 1, September 1937, page 32

Another very strong woman is on the receiving end of a marriage proposal in the next cartoon. We can tell right away who's in charge here.
"Heads, it's 'yes'—tails, it's 'no'!"
Syd Hoff
College Humor, Vol. 6, No. 1, September 1937, page 36

Here, once again, the daughter holds center stage and allows her mother to assert her independence from her husband.
"Cheese it—papa!"
Syd Hoff
College Humor, Vol. 6, No. 1, September 1937, page 38

It isn't easy, but Hoff's expectant father manages to achieve nonentity status.
"Are you expecting somebody?"
Syd Hoff
College Humor, Vol. 6, No. 1, September 1937, page 43

Finally, it turns out Syd Hoff's recurring butler figure is named Louis. Here Louis maintains his composure while his wealthy employer completely abdicates his authority.
"Throw me out, Louis—I'm sick of this place!"
Syd Hoff
College Humor, Vol. 6, No. 1, September 1937, page 48

Note:  In bowling, three strikes in a row is known as a turkey. Four strikes is a four-bagger and five is a five-bagger. There's even a term—I forget what—for a strike when the 1 pin is the last to fall.

The September 1937 issue of College Humor is just one of some 5,600 magazines in the Steven Boss humor magazine collection. I haven't come close to going through one in a hundred of these. When I get the chance I'd love to return to the collection, which is housed in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library of Columbia University. In the meantime, all interested readers can access the collection by contacting Curator for Comics and Cartoons Karen Green.

I'm convinced that this blog can never have enough scans or photographs of original art by Syd Hoff. Go ahead—try and prove me wrong. I'd also like to publish more rare Hoff gag cartoons, illustrations, and advertising. Hey, send me some turkeys.

External Links:

Syd Hoff, Cartoonist & Author

Syd Hoff's Wikipedia Entry

Syd Hoff on Ink Spill

Syd Hoff in Christopher Wheeler's Cartoon(ist) Gallery 

Syd Hoff in the collection of Syracuse University

Syd Hoff on Hairy Green Eyeball

Syd Hoff's proposed cover designs for Danny and the Dinosaur

Quick Links to the Attempted Bloggery Archives:

Syd Hoff

Attempted Bloggery supports net neutrality.


No comments:

Post a Comment