thrift store finds: the newest jimmy hatlo cartoon book

This week, we’re looking at The Newest Jimmy Hatlo Cartoon Book, a collection of Hatlo’s popular comic strip They’ll Do It Every Time published in 1958 by Avon Publications.

Original price for this beauty was a quarter… which is exactly as much as I spent to acquire it for my collection!

I wasn’t familiar with the name Jimmy Hatlo when I picked this book up, but I sure was familiar with They’ll Do It Every Time, Hatlo’s long-running single panel gag strip.

The conceit of TDIET was simple: the readership of the comic provided the material, often a sideways look at the frustrating, annoying, and absurd behavior of people. Ever get annoyed at the way the kid at your local supermarket will put bag the bread and eggs first, then drop your gallon of milk in on top of those delicate foodstuffs? Send it in to They’ll Do It Every Time! If chosen as the basis of the comic, you’d get the traditional “tip of the Hatlo hat” in the margins of the strip.

(I really like that one.)

Our local papers did not run TDIET, but once a year my family would take a summer vacation to the New Jersey shore. The newspapers that serviced Point Pleasant, Lavalette, and all points surrounding carried the comic and I have some memories of reading it there. Hatlo had long since passed the reigns of TDIET onto other cartoonists by the time I was a seasonal reader. An artist named Al Scaduto penned the strip when I was a kid. They’ll Do It Every Time only ended its’ run in 2008 when Scaduto passed away without a successor.

There, you’ve got my personal relationship to They’ll Do It Every Time. When I read it as a kid I had no concept of the strip as having such a long legacy, but it’s been around since the 1920’s and syndicated across the country since the 1930’s. Indeed, looking at these strips, it’s clear that Hatlo came up during the ’30’s and ’40’s, simply by virtue of his artistic style.

Idiosyncratic and detailed in ways the comic strip artists of later years could not aspire, these one panel gag strips really do hold up. The only way I can think to describe Hatlo’s style is “classic.”

His cartooning seems deeply indebted to the giants of the industry; perhaps it’s just me, but in Hatlo’s work, I see a lot of Bud Fisher (Mutt and Jeff) maybe even some E.C. Segar (Popeye) as possible inspiration. John K, the animation genius responsible for Ren and Stimpy, here posits a fun idea – Hatlo was emblematic of a “man cartoonist” and then goes on to talk about his definition of the term. I tend to agree with him in his assessment, especially when you consider the topics of the majority of the strips collected here.

Hatlo seems to have two go-to fonts for inspiration. The first, most significantly, is the world of sports.

From what I’ve read about the man, Hatlo was originally employed as a cartoonist for the sports section of a California newspaper. It would make sense he would continue to mine this vein for humorous observations.

Hatlo also explores the frustrations and annoyances of car ownership and travel quite a bit with the strips in these books. Considering the time of publication, the 1950’s would have been a real boom period for automobile ownership in America… and I’m sure ownership and maintenance of cars would have been on the forefront of most Americans’ minds.

Like many gag cartoonists, Hatlo employs a couple of fun tricks to make his comic more relatable. Firstly… he’s great at coming up with goofy names and words to illustrate his points. “A ping in the zingarater” is a great turn of phrase, and Hatlo employs them often. He also will occasionally use the same characters again and again to illustrate his frustrations with modern society. In these strips, Henry Tremblechin often appears as the surrogate for all the nasty annoyances suffered by the common man.

Hatlo liked Tremblechin enough to carry on using the character in his long-running Sunday comic strip Little Iodine. Little Iodine doesn’t make an appearance in this collection, but in that strip, Tremblechin was the erstwhile father to the pesky Iodine, and that strip unfolded in much the way Hank Ketcham’s Dennis the Menace would. The feature was popular enough to be made into a movie in the 1940’s!

Speaking of Sundays, about a third of the comics collected here are Sunday strips and they are just PACKED with great detail.

I love reading old comic collections like this because they give the reader a window into what was considered normal and common in the past. As a cartoonist who captured the everyday foibles of American comic readers, Hatlo’s work remains readable and often funny! Heck, I’m not the only one who thought so- check out these two truly impressive testimonials given on the inside cover:

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2 Responses to “thrift store finds: the newest jimmy hatlo cartoon book”

  1. There is one a movie called Little Iodine. No copies are known to exist. Irene Ryan was appearing before she appeared in the extremely popular show, “The Beverly Hillbillies.” Best of all, Irene Ryan appeared in the highest half-hour episode in known history!

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