Obscurity of the Day: Peter Scratch

Lou Fine was, along with Kirby and a few others, the royalty of golden age comic book artists. His work was revered then and continues to be now. His fine line and dramatic staging made any comic book his work graced a transcendent piece of dynamic illustration art. Unhappily for comic book fans, Fine’s work was just too good not to be noticed at higher levels of the New York publishing world and he abandoned the funnybook trade in the mid-40s to work primarily in the field of advertising comic strips, presumably a much better paying gig. For ad strips he modified his style making it slicker and far less dynamic — perhaps considered more appropriate for his new genre, but a big disappointment for his fans.

Fine dabbled in non-advertising strips, too. He drew Adam Ames from 1959-1962, and, according to Ron Goulart, a strip called Taylor Woe in the late 40s (the strip was advertised in E&P in 1945 but I’ve never found a single example – anyone seen it?).

Fine’s last newspaper strip was Peter Scratch, a hard-boiled detective yarn. Reading like Mickey Spillane, it probably seemed out of date when it debuted on September 13 1965. It was syndicated by Newsday, a Long Island newspaper that for awhile in the 1960s tried to get into the syndicate business with limited success.

The feature was written without credit by veteran comic strip writer Elliott Caplin, and the art, initially by Fine, was, I’m told, handed over to Jack Sparling to ghost later in the run. Of special note are some short ghosting stints by Neal Adams. The dates I’ve been told are:

6/13 – 6/25/66
8/15 – 8/21/66
9/11 – 9/22/66

The strip ended sometime in 1967. Unfortunately I haven’t found an exact end date for the strip.

PS – Alberto Becattini sends some additional info on Fine’s ghosts:

Glad to see the Peter Scratch feature on the blog. As far as I know, Neal Adams also ghosted on dailies from July 11-23, 1966. He ghosted on

three Sundays as well in 1966 during the period he was contributing to

the dailies.

Alex Kotzky also ghosted on the strip (in 1965, if I remember

correctly), as per an interview with him that appeared years ago in

Comics Interview.

4 comments on “Obscurity of the Day: Peter Scratch

  1. I have read and enjoyed most of Peter Scratch in the Menomannee Falls Gazette, but I had never seen a sunday. Thanks for that. I wouldn’t mind if you added what paper you found the sample.

    Along similar lines, I enjoyed Frank Thorne’s detective slightly more. Maybe you can do a follow up on that one?

  2. Hi Ger –
    The Sundays shown here came to me as clipped tearsheets so I don’t know what paper they’re from. Presumably you could find the Sunday run in Newsday itself though, for one.

    Perry Mason will undoubtedly pop up here one of these days, but the content of the blog is mostly determined by what I have handy for scanning at any given moment.


  3. For want it’s worth, I’ve found Adams Ames via NewspaperArchives in Winnapeg Free Press 1961-62 and in Appleton (WI) Post-Cresent in late 1959. Never seen Taylor Woe. And never seen Perter Scratch Sundays (until now). Thanks!!

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