On Strips: The Foolish Questions Game

By | Friday, October 03, 2014 Leave a Comment
About a decade before Rube Goldberg became well-known for his crazy invention ideas, he developed a comic called Foolish Questions. It consisted of one person asking another a question to which there was a seemingly mind-boggingly obvious answer, and the second person answering in as absurd a manner possible. It was literally the prototype that Al Jaffe later used for his Snappy Answers to Stupid Questions.

Jaffe wasn't the only one who borrowed Goldberg's idea, though. Goldberg's first Foolish Questions comic appeared in late 1908, and 1909 saw more than a couple immitators like Raymond Ewer's Those Ridiculous Questions and Foolish Foolish Questions by "Sterling" (a house pen-name at World Color Printing).

Several years after the original strip ran it's course in early 1910, they were reprinted by the Wallie Dorr Co. in the form of a card game. Cards were printed up using Goldberg's art, but the dialogue balloons were removed. The answer was then typeset along the bottom, and the challenge was then to match your cards up against the questions that the dealer would read out. Goldberg contribued two new quick illustrations to the game (for the box cover and the card back) but most of the art was taken from existing material.

I've seen people peg the game's date everywhere from 1912 to 1919. While the earlier date seems most likely, Goldberg continued dropping the feature in some of his other cartoons for years, so the 1919 date is still pretty plausible. Further, the game was re-issued with some new graphics in 1924, so the concept still had some life, even if it wasn't being run as a primary feature any longer.

What I find interesting is not only that it's game based on a comic from a famous cartoonist, but it's the earliest such game I've seen that uses actual comic panels as part of the game play itself, as opposed to, say, a board game that simply uses graphics from the comics. There's very few games I've seen utilize comics to this extent (in fact, "5 Card Nancy" is the only other one I can think of offhand) and that it was conceived a century ago near the very birth of newspaper comics is fascinating.
Newer Post Older Post Home