Chicago Spanking Review

Snappy Spanking Verse

Throughout 2011, Chicago Spanking Review will present a year-long celebration of the old Humorama spanking cartoons. We begin with an example from the cover of Snappy (January 1960) which isn't even a spanking cartoon, just some spanking verse together with model Shirley Ann Field in a suggestive pose. In some ways, this is a rather lame beginning to what we hope will be an exciting weekly series, so we can only ask for our readers' understanding - or else hope they're too wasted from partying all New Year's Eve to notice! We wanted to introduce new readers to Humorama without taxing too much the patience of readers already familiar with the line.

humorama digest snappy

Posted by the Web-Ed on 12/31/2010.

He raised his glass, gazed into my eyes,

"To Bottoms Up" said he. And suddenly,

To my surprise, I was across his knee!

You don't have to be an English Lit major to know this isn't exactly Shakespeare - the irregular metrical foot in line 1 alone is enough to keep the reader from getting the feel of iambic pentameter, which apparently was the intended meter. (Lines 2 and 3 are actually cast in iambic pentameter, but never mind.) That is one reason we called this bit of doggerel "verse" and not "poetry". But let's try to see the positive side - a spanking verse on a cover of a magazine!

From time to time, Humorama would have some kind of verbal reference to spanking or a spanking cartoon on the cover, which we're certain caught the attention of the spankos of that era.

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We mentioned Humorama above as we have many times before, so perhaps we should say just a little more about it to make sure everyone has a feel for what it was. Humorama was a line of digest-sized publications that was part of Martin Goodman's publishing empire and edited by his brother Abe Goodman. We have not been able to get the details of its corporate structure or exact dates of publication (yes, we looked!), but we think it went from 1938 to 1981 under various corporate names. The digest format was abandoned sometime in the 70's (c. 1972), perhaps because newsdealers didn't like non-standard sized items which were more difficult to fit in display racks (customers could not subscribe to the digests as they could to magazines and comics books and had to buy them directly from the newsdealer). After that, the cartoons that had originally appeared there were reprinted in full-size magazines such as Popular Jokes, which is where we first encountered them. Some of these still carried the Humorama imprint in their indicia (the latest one we have is from 1973), but later ones were under corporate names like Visual Varieties, so by then Humorama must have been extinct as a corporate entity. Further complicating matters is that the reprinting of cartoons began as early as 1961.

What about the early years? The oldest digests we have in our personal collection are from 1954 and the earliest "spanker" known to us is from December of that year. (This is still somewhat debatable as that example is a fly-swatter gag with no OTK positioning, whereas there is a Bill Wenzel OTK secretary spanking that dates from July 1955, but we won't belabor the point further here.)  Humorama digests prior to 1954 seem increasingly scarce the further back you go, perhaps because sales weren't as great in the early post-war years and many of the 1938 - 1945 issues were destroyed by the World War II paper drives. We can imagine disapproving wives using the drives as an excuse to throw them out - many Golden Age comics were lost the same way. This is speculation on our part, but it seems likely. We have seen issues of Jest going as far back as 1941, and another title, Snappy, goes back at least to 1935, but in those years it was published by D. M. Publishing Co., not Humorama. Our belief is that Goodman just started using it once no one else was publishing the same title just as he later did with Whiz-Bang and Wink.

Around this text are examples of the Humorama line taken from BIP Comics and our personal collection. More may be seen in the Humorama Cover Gallery. While the resolution isn't great enough to read the copy, the pictures give a pretty clear idea of what these digests offered: low-level humor combined with cheesecake pictures and risque girlie cartoons at a price the working man could afford ($0.35). Abe Goodman didn't pay much - we have seen reports that some contributors got $7.00 per cartoon, and even top talents like Dan DeCarlo only received $15.00 - not exactly top dollar even in those days. Of greatest interest to us here are the spanking cartoons or "spankers" as the editors referred to them. Many artists produced these, and in the weeks to come we'll be sampling those from fairly obscure artists along with the "Big Five" as we call them - Bill Ward, Bill Wenzel, Dan DeCarlo, Kirk Stiles, and Homer Provence. "Spankers" appeared on a regular basis from 1956 onwards, generally none or one per issue with four being the most we have seen.

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