Coming Attraction

This blogger has to make a business trip. I’m going to be away from all my precious resources — scanner, research library and files — for a week. Does that mean no blog posts for a week? Perish the thought! I’m certainly not going to let my streak of daily postings end right after gamely posting on both Christmas Day and New Year. So I’ve spent a few long nights slaving over a hot scanner to bring you a very special treat for the coming week. Tomorrow we begin this blog’s first extended reprint series, featuring Jack Daw’s Adventures starting from the very first strip from July 7th, 1922.

Jack Daw’s Adventures is, I believe, the very first syndicated adventure strip featuring a continuing character. There are a few adventure strips that predate it but they were either local unsyndicated features (Bobby The Boy Scout) or did not use continuing characters (The Evening World’s Movie-Story Series). You can read about these and other early adventures strips in my article on the subject in Hogan’s Alley magazine, by the way.

Jack Daw’s Adventures is, as the title rather elegantly implies, about a small boy who leaves home in search of adventure. The storyline is all over the map, veering wildly from fanciful fairy tale settings to full-blown serious adventure. You’ll see that odd genre-bending storytelling go from one extreme to the other even just in the first eight weeks of the strip that will be shown here over the coming week.

It is, I admit, not a very well written strip. The writer-cartoonist, Leslie Elton, was a passable artist but he seems to have never plotted his storyline out ahead. As you read the strips, you’ll get the feeling that his story is seldom thought out more than a few panels ahead. This leads to lots of gaping plot holes, inconsistencies and klunky segues. Elton also has a really annoying habit of previewing what’s going to happen in tomorrow’s strip, even when he ends on a cliffhanger. Jeez, guy, what a way to kill suspense! Still, he’s obviously having fun and I hope you will enjoy reading it, even if only for its curiosity value.

Over the next eight days I’ll post one week’s worth of strips each day. The first Jack Daw storyline, though it does not end there, does take a breather at that point so that it makes a good place to stop. And, since these business trips are threatening to become a semi-regular occurrence for me over the next six months or so, I’d appreciate feedback from you folks as to whether you want to continue with Jack Daw next time I have to resort to presenting a reprint series or if you want me to go on to some other strip. I also welcome any debate you might have over whether this strip actually qualifies as an adventure strip (I know Bill Blackbeard would say nay to that!).

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