Thrift Store Finds: Crazy Cartoons by VIP

This week we’re looking at Crazy Cartoons by VIP, published by Fawcett Crest in 1956.

VIPcover

Cover price is fifty cents, I paid a quarter.

Although his style wast instantly recognizable to me the moment I picked this book up, I didn’t know VIP were the initials/pen name for cartoonist Virgil Partch. He was a well-known gag cartoonist throughout the middle of the 20th century, working in magazines and the syndicated comics market for much of his career. Partch’s style was surreal and strange; the tone of his offbeat strips ended up influencing quite a few comic artists up through today. It’s not a big jump to say that a modern gag strips like The Far Side owe a distant debt to VIP’s work.

The first thing that caught me about Crazy Cartoons was the cover description: “200 Triple-X Charges of High Explosive Humor!” Over the years I’ve collected a fair number of comic paperback collections; quite a few of them trade in sex and sexually charged humor. Clearly the choice of comic used on the cover and the phrase “Triple-X” are meant to titillate potential readers. This is interesting; Partch’s later gag work would trend toward racy but besides this one strip

vip1

most of the strips collected here are fairly tame by this cover’s lurid promises.

The above strip embodies some of what I enjoy in Partch’s incredibly loose, fine lines. To me, they look like VIP decided to do his gag strips as contour drawings. Although his gag strips are simple, they’re not simplistic. Like the above strip, the comics collected in Crazy Cartoons run the gamut from extremely detailed in their execution

vip2

to those that look almost like a scrawly mess!

vip3

Crazy Cartoons was, from what I can gather, the second collection of VIP strips, collected relatively early in the cartoonist’s long career. I imagine Partch was still fine-tuning his pen work during this time, as well as refining it for certain magazine markets.

vip4

This is one of my favorites and I love how it trades in the absurdity that was so a part of the fringe humor coming into its’ own in the 1950’s and 1960’s. VIP never shied away from this stuff in his strip, from the big gags in his comics to the tiny details.

vip5

A hallmark of Partch’s style was the way he, for some reason, loaded most of his characters with a crazy amount of fingers. At first I thought I was seeing a funny mistake in VIP’s comics but this looks to be an overriding part of his style.

Fantagraphics is set to publish a hardcover retrospective of Virgil Partch’s comics sometime in 2014. The guy was a great cartoonist and while I wait for that book, I’m happy to have Crazy Cartoons in my collection.

vip6

I mean, LOOK at that gag. That’s the best!

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