This year’s Stripper’s Guide Christmas strip is a real classic of the genre, and was penned by one of the finest newspaper cartoonists of all time, Jack Kent. Kent is best known for King Aroo, to my mind one of the most entertaining strips of all time. The intellect brought to bear in constructing the deceptively simple, playful little tales in that strip leaves me in awe. Kent was a true giant, a master of the demanding daily comic strip form.
Of course, the greats seldom get their due, and Jack Kent’s King Aroo never attracted a long list of newspaper clients. Although it managed to survive for fifteen years, Kent certainly wasn’t getting rich in the process. Decades later, Kent still hasn’t really gotten his due — he’s rarely named in any top-ten list of comic strip greats — but I think that is because relatively few of us have had a chance to read the strip.
Luckily that recently changed, when IDW brought out the first volume of their King Aroo reprint series, which receives my very highest praise. If enough of you folks buy copies of the first volume, and I promise you a delightful reading experience as reward, surely we will convince IDW to publish additional volumes in the series.
Why Christmas Almost Wasn’t was Jack Kent’s swan song on the newspaper comics page. It was produced for the 1968 Christmas season, and issued by the NEA syndicate. The characters of King Ling and Topo are basically just stand-ins for King Aroo and Yupyop, making me wonder if this storyline wasn’t originally intended for King Aroo, but never got used. The story, of course, is delightful, and there are plenty of delightful Kent-ian touches along the way.
I hope you enjoy it.