Thursday, November 29, 2012
It wasn't particularly popular and only ran in about 20 papers at its height. The strip has never been collected in a single volume, although some reprints have run in Comics Revue. As far as I can tell, the two men never did another comic strip. I can find record of Bill dying in 2011 after spending most of his career as a claims manager for Nationwide Insurance. His obituary failed to mention Sir Bagby in any capacity.
The reason I know any of this is because I was trolling around on eBay and stumbled across several pieces of original art from the strip. Just in casually browsing the Original Comic Strip Art section. Once I had the names, I did a few Google searches to find out everything else.
Sir Bagby, if the handful of examples I saw listed on eBay are any indication, is not a strip I would particularly have enjoyed. I'd probably rank it around the same place as Wizard of Id -- I might read it if I happened to have a newspaper opened to the funnies in front of me, but I certainly wouldn't seek it out.
You probably won't find Sir Bagby in any history of comic strips. It's popularity, craftsmanship nor originality are in the same league as, say, Pogo or Li'l Abner. At best, it's a footnote.
But, you know, it was still a strip that survived in newspaper circulation for seven years. I've known better strips that didn't last that long. It strikes me that there are a LOT of comics (both strips and books) that I've never heard of. I've read plenty of histories with each taking a slightly different focus, and I have a good sense of who the movers and shakers were/are.
But there have been a lot of other folks who worked in the same fields, toiling away in much the same way, without the recognition of a Charles Schulz or Bill Watterson. I can't do much of anything for these cartoonists, many of whom have certainly passed away. Even if I really wanted to, I can only dig up so many to highlight here. But I do kind of enjoy making little "discoveries" like this, and just taking time for myself to note that there were other folks out there that aren't recorded in the history books. I don't believe in an afterlife or that these guys will bestow any sort of mystical karma on me for giving them whatever notioriety a blog post might bring, but it's still pretty cool to see what else was going on in the newspaper besides the names you already know.
And, hey, if something strikes you for some reason while you're on eBay, go ahead and buy it! They're often quite cheap. While writing this, I nabbed the original art for Allan Salisbury's June 2, 1974 Fingers and Foes Sunday strip for less than fifteen bucks!
Who's Allan Salisbury, you ask? Look him up!