Obscurity of the Day: The Colonials

Joe Escourido was evidently a sharp cookie, in that he foresaw as early as 1970 that the upcoming bicentennial was going to make anything related to the American revolutionary era a hot ticket. He created The Colonials, a gag strip about that era, and United Feature Syndicate shopped it around to a somewhat receptive audience of newspaper editors.

The strip debuted on November 30 1970 as a Sunday and daily strip in a respectable number of newspapers, but it wasn’t long before trouble started. Although The Colonials did beat everyone else out of the gate, in the ensuing years other strips, like Yankee Doodles and Pluribus, began to steal away clients. As important as the Bicentennial was, editors still weren’t about to give more than one space to strips that played off it. The Colonials had some problems that made it an easy target for syndicate salesmen urging a change. The major problem was that Escourido seemed somewhat bored by his Colonial era setting, and his humor sometimes had little or nothing to do with the time period. That would have been a big problem to editors. Secondly, Escourido seemed to get a big kick out of sometimes writing dialogue in a Colonial/British accent. What he actually accomplished is to make the dialogue almost indecipherable (see top two examples).

In 1973 the strip must have already been in trouble, because the Sunday was dropped that year, and the strip was renamed Colonial Capers – presumably a move intended to show the more dimwitted newspaper editors that the strip was indeed meant to be funny. All of it was to no avail. By the bicentennial year the strip’s client list was truly anemic, and it could even be that the strip did not even make it to July 4 1976. It was advertised in E&P that year, but I’ve never found it running anywhere later than 1975.

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