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Saturday, April 01, 2017

Happy 100th Birthday - The Sheldon Mayer Centennial

Happy 100th Birthday to Sheldon Mayer (1917-1991), one of the greatest comic book creators of all time.  Here's just a quick sample of some of his varied creative work.

Mayer's most famous creation was Sugar & Spike, which ran for 98 issues from 1956 to 1971, plus hundreds of pages of additional stories in the 1980s, primarily for foreign publication, some seen in English in digests.  The on-going adventures of two neighbour babies who can talk to each other, but not to their parents, it's a constant delight of visual and verbal humour.

In the 1970s, Mayer wrote (and occasionally drew) three dozen stories for DC's various anthology books.  "Is a Snerl Human?", drawn by Alex Toth, is one of the best of them.

 In the 1970s Mayer wrote and drew a number of DC's tabloid format specials featuring Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,
 Also for DC's tabloid line, Mayer wrote a book of stories from the Bible.  Only the first one, featuring Old Testament stories, was published, with artwork by Nester Redondo and Joe Kubert, although a significant amount of work for a second book of New Testament stories was done.

Mayer produced several hundred short funny animal stories, mostly in the 1950s.  My favourites are the Three Mouseketeers stories, a kid-gang of field mice navigating the world of the big-feets.

Dizzy Dog stories are also always fun.  Dizzy usually has to defend himself against various attempts of others to take advantage of his innate stupidity, with varying degrees of success.

 Bo Bunny is the comedy duo of Mayer's funny animal work, as Bo and his "friend" Skinny Fox hobo around, trying to avoid work.
 Doodle's Duck is the family comedy of Mayer's funny animal work, at least after the introduction of nephew Lemuel.
Black Orchid was a super-hero created by Mayer in 1973 with artist Tony DeZuniga, only appearing in a handful of stories back in the 1970s but re-appearing in various forms quite often since.

 "Up In McWhistle's House" was a proposal for a depression-era story that Mayer worked on circa-1974, apparently never going beyond a dozen pages of an introductory story partly pencilled and some notes on further plans.

 And of course Scribbly is probably Mayer's second most famous creation, beginning as original content for early Dell comics composed of mostly strip reprints in 1936, continuing as a regular feature in All-American Comics (which Mayer also edited) from 1939 to 1944, where supporting character Ma Hunkel took the identity of the Red Tornado and also took over the feature, and then 15 issues of his own book from 1948-1951. Plus a handful of later returns to the character.

For some earlier posts by me about Mayer, see here.  And if you're on Facebook, check out this group for more on Mayer, including foreign covers, unpublished artwork, Sugar & Spike comic strip proposals, fan art and more.

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