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As Featured in the Funnies

February 12th, 2007

reglar-fellas.jpg

Hot Damn! We’re continuing the world’s first daily classic cartoon podcast! For the next few days ReFrederator will be throwing the spotlight on films based on popular comic strips.

We kick things off with a real curio from 1936, “Happy Days,” a one shot pilot for a proposed series based on funny paper favorite “Reg’lar Fellas.” Well, it WAS a favorite back in the twenties and thirties — kind of a comic strip version of “Our Gang,” only without the ethnic diversity (most of the characters had last names like Duffy, Riley and Flynn.)

The Ub Iwerks studio produced this first film incarnation of the strip, carefully adapting their distinctive house style to reflect some of creator Gene Byrnes’ own look and technique. Byrnes drew his cast of characters (Jimmie Dugan, Pudd’nhead, Pinhead, Bullseye the Dog, et al) in a sort of pleasant correspondence school manner that is surprisingly well mimicked here. The animation team also knocked themselves out to approximate the strip’s brand of verbal humor.

Alas.

The typical Iwerks cartoon used dialogue as an occasional seasoning, but this one is slathered over with really, really corny one-liners and over the top reaction takes. The effect is a little weird and kinda funny in a totally unintentional way.

A subsequent “Reg’lar Fellas” cartoon series did not materialize, so Iwerks released “Happy Days” as the part of its ComiColor series. Later, Walter Lantz used the characters in one cartoon, and there was a live action movie too. Eventually, the comic strip fell out of favor about the same time little boys stopped referring to each other as “Reg’lar.”

An obscure cartoon based on a forgotten comic strip. ReFrederator keeps alive traditions that were dead years before you were born! Tomorrow — one tough Gazookus!

Dave Kirwan

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