Sunday, June 07, 2009

The Bungle Family

A few months back I bought some Bungle Family strips from eBay. Since then, I've been trying without luck to identify them.

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This one appears to be from the 1930s. Initially I thought I'd check microfilm of New York newspapers. I started off at the Rice University library and the Houston Public Library. No luck there--both had paltry collections of newspapers on microfilm. I looked in the Houston papers (which they had fairly complete collections of), but none of them seemed to carry The Bungle Family from the relevant period.

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This one (and all the subsequent ones) is from the 40s. Now what is interesting here is that in the 1940s strips I have, the originals are extremely large. There is no fine linework on them (as there is on the strip from the 30s)--all the halftones are some kind of letratone-style screen as opposed to hand-drawn hatching.

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My theory (based on nothing, really) is that the creator of The Bungle Family, Harry Tuthill was getting older and his eyesight was getting bad. Tuthill was born in 1886 and had been drawing the strip since 1918. He may have used an assistant for the halftones. In any case, he seems to have drastically changed his approach to drawing the strip for some reason. And the strip ended in 1945.

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So yesterday I went to the University of Houston library because they have a complete run of the Dallas Morning News on microfilm. I had been told that The Bungle Family ran in the Dallas Morning News, but it wasn't in any of the papers I looked up. Perhaps The Dallas Morning News dropped it before the late 1930s. And like Rice and the Houston Public Library, UH did not have any long runs of other cities' newspapers (except, annoyingly, the New York Times and The Wall Street Journal--two newspapers without comics!).

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So I throw it out to you, my readers. What I really want to do is find out what precise years these strips ran (Tuthill puts the day and month, but frustratingly leaves off the year), what papers carried The Bungle Family in the 1940s, and what these storylines were about. Any help would be appreciated!

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