Virgil Partch, legendary magazine gag cartoonist famed for his outlandish drawings and offbeat gags was feeling the pinch as the magazine markets began to implode in the early 60s. As did many magazine cartoonists, he tried to make the jump over to newspaper work. His first feature, Big George, was a moderately successful series that survived his death in 1984. Some say he was so far ahead on the feature that the syndicate was able to continue it for five years just by printing his submission backlog, others claim that it was taken over by ghosts.
Big George was positively tame by VIPs standards, and perhaps this little-known strip, The Captain’s Gig, was Partch’s attempt to try a feature that came at least a little bit closer to his natural mode of humor. On the other hand, maybe The Captain’s Gig was simply born out of boredom — if Partch was maintaining himself five years ahead on Big George maybe he just had some free time on his hands.
In any case, The Captain’s Gig was, unfortunately, still not the material that had made VIP famous in the 1950s. The strip starred a pair of sailors who were sometimes stranded on a desert island, sometimes not. The gags did attempt to be a little more ‘out there’ than Big George‘s, but either VIP had lost his touch for bizarre humor, or the syndicate kept him too much in check.
The Captain’s Gig ran as a daily and Sunday strip starting on March 13 1977 and ended sometime in 1979* after showing no particular signs of catching on with editors or the public.
PS – Sorry about the colors in the top strip. I got a little carried away playing with the Photoshop tools and ended up recoloring most of the strip.
* EDIT 11/26/17: Ben Ferron reports a likely end date in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette of 12/1/79. Thanks Ben!