Saturday, December 14, 2013

A Nostalgic Look at Youth & Comic Strips

My 4 year old son has a small teddy bear he drags along with him everywhere that looks remarkably similar to Frank in the comic strip Frank and His Friend so when I saw this panel from the new book FRANKAND HIS FRIEND:  SPECIAL COLLECTOR’S EDITION by Curio and Co. I couldn’t help but chuckle.

Frank is the stuffed toy in this cartoon series that tags along with his “friend” the boy who owns and loves him.   The comics are filled with humorous reflections of life through the eyes of a child’s toy – you can’t have a purer prism to filter life moments than that.  This table top coffee book is a collection of 70s era newspaper comic strips that bring you back to a time when most adults started their morning or wrapped up their evening supposedly reading about world events but more likely were perusing the comics page.  In today’s world of the Internet and satellites where everything so “right now” in our faces, it is nice, maybe you could say nostalgic, to remember a time when newspaper comic strips were popular culture that were talked about at the office water cooler or the lunchroom at school.

FRANK & HIS FRIENDS is a combination of childhood adventures in the style of Calvin & Hobbs with the 70’s era pop culture feel of Pete’s Dragon.  The book jacket notes the comic strips are from illustrator CLARENCE ‘OTIS’ DOOLEY whose work was syndicated across the country from 1975 to his untimely death in 1986.  It notes “However, though Frank and His Friend was published for only nine years, it has continued to inspire artists. From Arthur Bloomer’s Rumpus Room Rascals to the tow-headed underdog of Raining Cats and Hamsters, most of our favorite characters of the last twenty years owe something to the influence of Frank and His Friend.”

You may read that and go WOW! that's incredible, but I don't recall ever hearing about this author or his comic strip Frank & His Friends...don't feel bad because there is NO such person.  The fact is that Frank & His Friends isn't a collection of old newspaper strips but rather a brand new cartoon meant to replicate a bygone era created by the staff at the publishers of CURIO & CO.  To immerse the readers into this experience they've gone as far as to create a fictional author and back story surrounding the comic strip to enhance the nostalgia value and authentic feel of their creation.  In reference to this the publisher has noted, "This allows Curio & Co. to poke fun at today's impatient culture and create an 'instant heirloom' for collectors who want their history in half the time." They point out, "Dooley, of course, is as imagined as Frank.  He's just one more character in the sprawling fictional landscape of Curio & Co., which has created something more than a new paperback here.  It's an entry point to a world of intertwining back-story threads that are as much fun to unravel as the imaginative pathways of our childhoods."

What is nice about Frank & His Friends is that there is a Norman Rockwellish tone to the artwork and messages in the comic strips that also makes this an attractive publication to share with older generations.  The crisp artwork with its simplistic themes and youthful tones can also be shared with  younger generations too as a fun children's bedtime story or a nice fireside read on a cold winter day.

My father is notoriously hard to shop for when it comes to getting presents for him.  Yet as I write this post I’m having flashbacks of him reading the newspaper comics while drinking coffee every morning before work as we got ready for school and our Sunday morning ritual of rushing home from church so we could watch Little Rascals & Lone Ranger reruns together on TV.  I believe I may have just found a perfect gift by wrapping up Frank & his Friend: Special Collector’s Edition to put under the Christmas tree for him this year.

The FRANK & HIS FRIENDS: SPECIAL COLLECTOR’S EDITION is 128 pages of fun priced at $19.95. I’d encourage you to pick it up as a great addition to any home library’s book shelf or a wonderful gift for a loved one.  

For more information, visit:

DISCLAIMER:  I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the publisher.  The thoughts and opinions in this article are my own.

No comments:

Post a Comment