Sunday, February 23, 2020

Original Art Friday 1/17/2020 Jimmy Hatlo!

Once again it's Friday, the kind of Friday men and women dream of, a Friday like no other, except all the other Fridays featuring ORIGINAL ART FRIDAY, the plucked-on-a-whim day of the week when I share a piece of (mostly) comic art curated from my personal stash.

Today we turn back the calendar to 1943, a more innocent time when... wait a minute, that was in the middle of World War 2! Hardly more innocent! But despite the war clouds, comic strips continued to be produced, including the very popular "They'll Do It Every Time" by Jimmy Hatlo.

Hatlo came up with a semi-unique formula for his comic, which for decades poked gentle fun at the foibles of folks from all walks of life. Emphasis on the "gentle"... no one called anyone "dopes and babies" in Hatlo's world! Essentially a cartoon version along the lines of Reader's Digest's "Life In These United States", Hatlo captured the amusing quirks of the workplace, married life, kids and everything in between.

He also found a fantastic story generator by soliciting anecdotes from his vast reader pool, ensuring he would never run out of gags. Hatlo would give credit for each idea with a "Tip O' The Hat", further ingratiating the strip to his fans. I would be happy to pontificate further, but this quote from the ever-accurate Wikipedia says it better than moi...

"In an opinion piece for the July 22, 2013, edition of The Wall Street Journal, "A Tip of the Hat to Social Media's Granddad", veteran journalist Bob Greene characterized Hatlo's daily cartoons, which credited readers who contributed the ideas, as a forerunner of Facebook and Twitter. Greene wrote: "Hatlo's genius was to realize, before there was any such thing as an Internet or Facebook or Twitter, that people in every corner of the country were brimming with seemingly small observations about mundane yet captivating matters, yet lacked a way to tell anyone outside their own circles of friends about it. Hatlo also understood that just about everyone, on some slightly-below-the-surface level, yearned to be celebrated from coast to coast, if only for a day."

Aside from the premise, Hatlo was a flat-out excellent cartoonist. His expressive faces and figure work captured the often harried and befuddled characters of the strip perfectly. Amusing premise, nice art... I love it when a plan comes together!

Hatlo passed away in 1963, but the strip was continued by artist Al Scaduto, also a fine cartroonist, until 2008 (!). That's a heckuva long run... but this was a heckuva fine cartoon!

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