03 April 2009

Don't Mess w' Mike!

I love this stuff. Mike Nomad is "da man." This is from the same batch o'strips I've blogged about before. The year is 1971. I was 11 going on 12, and I read Mike Nomad in The San Francisco Chronicle every day. This is a frame from a Sunday panel (note the color). The sheet I have is 11-1/2 by 14-1/2 inches in size, so it is equivalent to a half-page of newsprint. I remember the Sunday Chronicle had a separate, magazine like section for the comics at one point. This was after they stopped doing the Sunday funnies in the full-sized pages, with a fold in the middle just like all the other sections. I 'm glad I was a kid when they still had good funnies in the newspapers. I caught just the tail end of that era, but it was like having a pass key to a new world. Reading leads to more reading, and reading the funnies leads to reading more funnies. The history of this form is filled with riches, and new stuff (alas, not much in the newspapers) is happening all the time. Telling picture stories is high art. I'm no critic, nor comics scholar, and I've no idea where Messrs. Saunders & Overgard stack with the big guys in the field, but the brisk action, crisp dialog, clean lines, sharp edges, vivid characters, and likeable anti-hero is tops in my book. Apparently Mr. Overgard is credited with the creation of our anachronistic man-of-action, even though he's the artist on the strip. Mr. Saunders was also known for Mary Worth. His son John took on the task of keeping Steve Roper and Mike Nomad going in the late 1980s. The action-adventure format is not really noir, mostly due to happy endings (or at least acceptable endings), but think about my description above. Doesn't that sound like film noir? Maybe its just that Mike is a 50s guy in a 70s world, and his schtick would work great alongside a 50s femme fatale like Lizbeth Scott or Marie Windsor!

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