Sunday, March 22, 2009

Eccentric Orbits

Searching online archives of newspaper radio schedules led me to two comic strips I hadn't heard of before: Sandy Hill, which I discussed the posting before last; and The Orbits, a family comedy signed by William Juhre.

Juhre is fairly well-known as the artist who filled in for Rex Maxon on the daily Tarzan from 1936 to 1938. I didn't find much else about him on the Web. credits him with a wartime strip called Draftie (1941-1944) which Juhre inherited from Loren Wiley; and assistant work on Buck Rogers (with Len Dworkin), Flash Gordon, and Apple Mary. Juhre also painted covers for Amazing Stories. A poster of his cover for “World Without Death” is on sale everywhere on the Internet.

I'd only known Juhre's Tarzan work and liked it only a little better than Maxon's, which I didn't like at all. So The Orbits came as a surprise. The drawing is quite competent and rather likeable. The clean line and designy composition on some strips (e.g. the 5 June 1950 episode) remind me of Alex Toth's romance work for Standard Comics, though the dates make it unlikely there was any actual influence.

The newspaper archive contained only scattered examples of the strip, so it isn't possible to say much about the stories. The strip concerns a typical 1950s family in a small town. Mr. Orbit (no first name given) seems to work for an ad agency (interpolating from the last 1951 strip). His wife is named Grace and he seems to have a son (Michael) and a daughter (Sara). One stray strip, not reproduced, implies there is another Orbit daughter named Finch. Just why the family was named “Orbit,” which implies an outer-space connection, I don't know. The strip's setting is about as down-to-earth as you can get.

Various online dealers offer Orbits dailies and Sundays from 1948, at which time the strip's title seems to have been The Orbit Family, through 1952. Could it be that's when the strip ended? I notice The Orbits was syndicated by John F. Dille, the syndicator of Buck Rogers (and hardly anything else). I wouldn't be surprised if Juhre got the strip through his job as a Rogers assistant.

1 comment:

John D. said...

"The Orbits" was carried in The Long Island Sunday Press on Sundays during the early 1950s.