Thursday, July 23, 2009

Smokey Stover

Smokey Stover was a comic strip written and drawn by Bill Holman from the 1930s until he retired in 1973. Distributed through the Chicago Tribune, it featured the misadventures of the titular fireman, and had the longest run of any strip in the screwball genre.

The goofy situations usually featured Smokey the firefighter (often in his two-wheeled Foomobile), his wife Cookie and his son Earl. Smokey's boss was Chief Cash U. Nutt. Smokey (short for "Smokestack") wore a hat with a hole in its hinged bill, and he occasionally used the hole in the bill as an ashtray for his burning cigar.

An "anything for a laugh" atmosphere pervaded the panels, and Holman's continuing inventiveness managed to keep Smokey Stover going for nearly 40 years. Holman often reached moments of surreality that did for comic strips what Tex Avery's wacky cartoons offered in animation.

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