“Who’s there?”

“Who’s there?”

I said I might talk more about figure-drawing this morning, but I ran across a piece of trivia yesterday that is too good not to share. Bob Dunn was a cartoonist who worked in the King Features Syndicate “bullpen” before and after World War II. In the Golden Age of newspaper comics, a bullpen was an in-house staff of syndicate artists who performed quotidian tasks such as lettering and corrections. Along with these lesser duties, Dunn for decades did much of the drawing on They’ll Do It Every Time, the popular single-panel feature created by Jimmy Hatlo. Apparently, Dunn was a colorful character who had a long career simultaneously working in the King bullpen and for Hatlo. It wasn’t until three years after the 1963 death of Hatlo that Dunn received a byline on They’ll Do It Every Time, but Dunn made another contribution to American culture. He invented the “knock-knock” joke in 1936 and, during the Great Depression, sold over two million copies of a book of knock-knock jokes. I read this in “Cartoon County,” a book by Cullen Murphy. Cullen grew up in Fairfield County, Connecticut, after WWII, the son of illustrator John Cullen Murphy, who collaborated with creator Hal Foster on Prince Valiant, taking over the strip from the aging Foster in the 1970’s. Murphy’s book recounts living among an unconventional colony of writers and artists who made their homes in suburban Connecticut because of its proximity to New York City, at that time the center of the publishing world. (A tip of the Hatlo hat to Ken Carson.)

21 responses to ““Who’s there?””

  1. Speaking of trivia(l), a couple of observations on the first panel:

    1) Alro knocks o the door with his fingertips?
    2) I guess that expains the “Knocl knok” sound.
    3) Did JJ add a pixel to the door knob? 😉

  2. Thought I wrote / this earlier. Gocomics is still running 17 Dec strips for a large sampling of what should be 18 Dec comics. Just now checked Andy Capp & A&J: still 17 D. Brooke’s Pibgorn changes only occasionally, but a new one came today, 18 D. Peace, Maybe I forgot to hit “Post” earlier today.

  3. Pibgorn is strange. Long story, as usual; now we’re in a prequel of sorts. An old monk has just fallen from a bluff, but survived, and is being nuzzled by a friendly horse. That’s Pib, astride the horse. In the episode to which this is prequel, she’s not a 12″ green-clad. gossamer winged fairy but a rustic and perhaps lusty lass, full size. What awaits?

  4. Wow! Thanks, Jimmy, for sharing all that about Bob Dunn, especially the part about the knock-knock joke. I had no idea! I have 2 of his “They’ll Do It Every Time” drawings on my home-office wall, near the drawing board, tha he autographed to me. I was the person who sent in the 2 ideas, so I got the traditional “Thanks and a tip of the hat” in the cartoon, and he generously sent me the originals when I asked. (I was about 12 or 13.) In those days the “thanks” box also included your home address in the cartoon, which seems bizarre in today’s concern about “doxing”. And I did get some strange snail-mails after the cartoons were published, from religious fanatics who apparently were that desperate to reach out to strangers.

  5. And in line with what you said about Bob’s byline, the cartoons have pre-printed banners rubber-cemented over them, that say “Jimmy Hatlo’s They’ll Do It Every Time”.

  6. Knock-knock.

    Who’s there?

    Bob Dunn.

    Bob Dunn who?

    Bob done himself proud by inventing
    the “knock-knock” joke in 1936.
    He sold over two million copies of
    a book of knock-knock jokes
    during the Great Depression.

  7. In case anyone has doubts about emb’s being a 9CL nerd, he searched “monoamniotic twins.” It’s not a trivial concern:


    Other: Apparently Gocomics is simply letting readers find other ways to view the missing 18 Dec comics. It’s easy, if tedious: just type “xxx comic Dec. 18, 2019” in a search engine. Wonder if anyone at Gocomics realizes it happened, or cares?

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