On Strips: The Strange World of Mr. Mum

By | Friday, April 28, 2017 Leave a Comment
Tom Heintjes‏ recently alerted me to the existence of The Strange World of Mr. Mum, a comic strip by Irv Phillips from 1958 to 1974. It's largely a pantomime strip (hence the "Mr. Mum" part of the title) in which the protagonist witnesses strange and humorous things as he goes about his daily business. The bizarre, sometimes downright surreal, happenings are sometimes credited as a predecessor to the likes of Gary Larson's The Far Side and Dan Piraro's Bizarro, although personally, I find Phillips' style of humor more in line with Charles Addams, albeit without the macabre elements. The character of Mr. Mum consistently bears passive witness to whatever events are unfolding, whereas Larson's and Piraro's characters tend to be more actively involved.

Prior to cartooning, Phillips was actually a relatively busy author, writing for motion pictures and television, perhaps his most notable work being Song of the Open Road which featured W.C. Fields and the film debut of Jane Powell. Perhaps presciently, in 1955 he also penned a play called The Funnyman in which a cartoonist who elects to discontinue a comic, much to the chagrin of the lead character in the comic itself!

In any event, I thought I'd share a few of the strips, given that most everyone under 45 probably hasn't seen these at all. They seem to have largely aged pretty well, and there seem to be a couple not-terribly-hard-to-find collections from within the past decade, so it might be something you find worth hunting for.
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