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WALTER C. HOBAN Original Sunday Page “Jerry on the Job” (1931)

WALTER C. HOBAN Original Sunday Page “Jerry on the Job” (1931)
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    WALTER C. HOBAN (1890-1939) • Original Sunday page, “Jerry on the Job” (1931) from a “Screwball Art” master.

    Hoban is not a household word among even most serious comic art collectors, so we’ll let expert Paul Tumey extol this artist’s virtues: “Screwballism is an acquired taste for many people, I'm discovering., What's always been funny to me isn't to most folks. Audiences in the 1920s and 30s, when screwball comics hit their peak, had a daily dose of the stuff. They were educated consumers of screwball comics. They knew enough to appreciate that the flip takes Walter Hoban drew [and probably invented] were artful in comparison to the average comic's plop. When The Marx Brothers argued over why a duck and declared they didn't believe in Sanity Clause, people were primed to get the humor and to laugh.

    “Here's the question I ponder: was a screwball strip like Jerry On The Job as weird in 1924 as it seems today? Keep in mind that we are talking about a generation that embraced a squinty-eyed, grizzled old sailor as a beloved character. The generation that raised screwball comics to an art form was also the generation that went through the horrors of one World War, slid into economic depression and the nightmare of a second, unimaginably terrifying and evil war.

    “…Hoban created Jerry On The Job over a weekend when his paper, The New York Journal, needed a new comic strip. The comic started December 29, 1913. Hoban wrote and drew Jerry On The Job for the rest of his life, approximately another 25 years. He created and drew other amazing screwball strips as well (such as Needlenose Noonan), but Jerry was the through-line in his life's work.

    “In some artfully smart subconscious way, Hoban's Jerry seems to give shape to the alienation and suppressed anxiety of the lost generation. Just as Shulz's Peanuts is so much more than a gag strip about little kids, Hoban's Jerry has a lot to offer the faithful reader. Hoban was an accomplished artist.” ---Paul Tumey, quoted from his wonderful “Masters of Screwball Comics” web site (2012). Hoban’s original art rarely comes up for sale. Only one “Jerry on the Job” Sunday, for example, was ever auctioned by Heritage.

    Medium/Size/Condition: The original is drawn with pen and ink on heavy Strathmore Drawing Board (embossed Strathmore symbol intact) measuring 29 inches wide x 15 high. The right edge is tattered but is well outside the image area (nearly 2” ro the right). Some smudging and fingerprint stains along the outside edges, but nothing unusual for a strip over 80 years old. Overall fine condition.

    Provenance: This Hoban Sunday is from the collection of James Kitchen, where it has been for more than twenty years.