The Baseball Guru OMI - POW, WHAM, ZAP: Baseball Comic Strips by Herb Rogoff

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APR2013: THE  120th  ARTICLE FOR BASEBALL GURU

ONEMOREINNING

 POW, WHAM, ZAP: BASEBALL COMIC STRIPS

 

   Over the years there have been several Comic strips, Comic books, Graphic Novel's and animated features that have dealt with Baseball. Some of them are worth talking about and all of them can be found on the Internet.

   Here are some of the better ones:

   THE GOLEM'S MIGHTY SWING

    Created by James Sturm in 2001 it was dubbed by the NY Times as the best Graphic Novel of that year. It tells the story of the House of David team that was popular in the 1920S. The players all wore beards and did well. After awhile attendance dropped off and they were bought by a Chicago promoter. Having just seen the German Film, "THE GOLEM " he bills one of the players as him, it works for awhile but then the team faces Anti- Semitic behavior. The end is left unclear. The art work is crisp and drawn with a thick line.

  

   SATCHEL PAIGE: STRIKING OUT JIM CROW:

   A young man faces Paige in the Negro leagues, gets beaned and his career is ended. When his son is beaten up by white landowners he actively fights against Racism. The landowner's have a baseball team of their own and are beaten by Paige's traveling club. He happens to be in the ballpark that day with his son and gives Paige the ball that hit him. They discus Racism in the South and Paige decides to fight against it during his career,

   Paige is depicted as a heroic symbol for the black community. The artwork is set up in comic book form and is quite graphic.

 

   H2

   The unique Japanese art form known as Manga is used in Mitsuru Adachi's baseball  saga "H2". Two Japanese baseball players and friends end up opposing each other on different teams. Through a series of both adventures and misadventures on the ball field and in their personal lives their friendship gets stronger.  The art style is very Anime in conception & approach. Later on the Comic book became a successful Japanese TV series.

  

   CHARLIE BROWN'S BASEBALL TEAM.

   Was there ever a worse baseball team and a player than good ol' Charlie Brown and his baseball club. The answer is no and in a series of Comic strips drawn by Charles Schulz  it proves to be so.

   

   BASEBALL COMICS: RUBE ROOKY.

   In the late 1940s Will Eisner started a BASEBALL COMICS magazine and in it he created a comic strip called Rube Rooky. He was a simple minded  Ballplayer from the sticks who ends up being a champion baseball player. The strip never caught on, probably because of the success of Ray Gotto's Ozark Ike which had a similar storyline and was abandoned after a few issues

   OZARK IKE and COTTON WOODS: Both by Ray Gotto.

   In 1961 Ray Gotto won the Mets contest to create their logo. A pretty good achievement.

   However he is also noted to have created two of the best baseball strips around….i'm talking about Ozark Ike and Cotton Woods;

    Ozark Ike appeared in 1945, lasted until 1954 when Gotto left it and several writers and artists kept it going until 1958. It dealt with a talented, simple minded  ball player from the woods who turns out to be a terrific player. There is homespun humor throughout the series and some exciting baseball adventures 

     Two star ball players were given Ozark Ike's name as a nickname…..Gus Zernial and Ralph Kiner.

     When Gotto left the strip he immediately started another one which was quite similar in concept and story line. It was called Cotton Woods but never reached Ike's popularity. Cotton is also, like Ike, from a backwoods community and turns out to be a terrific ballplayer but the strip also features other sports as well. It lasted just short of a year and then was forgotten. In the last few years it has resurfaced in reprints and is worth looking at. The artwork is much more creative than Ozark Ike and the sport scenes are well done and beautifully delineated.

   

     Next month we'll look at some other Comic strips dealing with the game.

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