Today marks the return of R.C. Harvey, who in his latest column takes a long look at George McManus’s classic Bringing Up Father. A sample:
In the strip, McManus never explained how Jiggs gained his wealth. In most histories and newspaper accounts over the years, it was said that Jiggs, who had worked as a simple laborer, got rich by winning the Irish Sweepstakes. But not according to McManus, who, in 1920, related Jiggs’ “autobiography” to a newspaper reporter, to wit: Jiggs was born in Ireland. He came to this country expecting to find gold on the streets of New York, but found bricks and cobblestones instead. He became a hod-carrier. Romance came into his life when he met Maggie, a waitress at a small café, who put heaping dishes of corned beef and cabbage before him. They were married, and Jiggs became thrifty. Instead of carrying bricks, he bought and sold them on commission. Then he manufactured them. Street brawls in the old days in New York provided a great market for Jiggs’ bricks, which were harder than ordinary bricks. He grew rich. (In another telling, Jiggs grew rich selling bricks to Ignatz in George Herriman’s strip, Krazy Kat.) At this point in his career Maggie and their daughter Nora acquire social aspirations. And that’s when the trouble began.
Zeke Zekley, McManus’ assistant since the mid-1930s, regaled me with yet another origin of Jiggs’ wealth. McManus told him the story, tongue-in-cheek no doubt. It went like this: When Jiggs was working as a hod-carrier, his employer was another Irishman named Ryan. Ryan liked Jiggs. He liked him so much that he gave Jiggs a dime every time he, Ryan, made a thousand dollars. Ryan got very very rich. And so did Jiggs.
—Too late for this year, but Chris Mautner has six comics to read on Bloomsday. You should really be reading Joyce instead anyway.
—I don’t quite understand how this comic book for the blind is supposed to work.
—Hannah Means-Simpson reviews “Alan Moore’s” Fashion Beast.
—This looks like it will be a good exhibition.
—It’s never a pleasure to agree with Tom Spurgeon, but I have to admit he’s right on this one.