Friday, April 12, 2013

George Wunder Terry Sundays 1947--1

The Wunder of it All
I read that Hermes Press is reprinting the first two years of George Wunder's Terry and the Pirates. It's a welcome project, though a 9x12-inch book isn't likely to full justice to Wunder's artwork, Especially the Sundays. I feel a shiver whenever I read that Sundays will be "thoroughly restored."

In a recent post Ger Apeldoorn offered black-and-white samples of early George Wunder Terrys. As it happens, a couple of the Sundays which open Ger's post are the ones missing from my stack of 1947 tear sheets. Wunder took over Terry and the Pirates on 30 December 1946. As Ger notes, when he started drawing the strip Wunder followed Caniff's lead for a while before developing his personal style. However this was true mostly with character faces: Wunder's highly-detailed, heavily-inked approach to drapery and settings changed the strip's look immediately. Ger's posting prompted me to dig out my box of old Sundays and scan the few examples I have of Wunder's first Terry continuity.

In this story Wunder polishes off two major Caniff characters. Wunder only used six members of Caniff's vast cast. Three enjoyed long runs. Hotshot Charlie continued as Terry's comic sidekick for several more years. Eventually he married Spray O'Hara and left the strip. Chopstick Joe, a shady Chinese entrepreneur, was the boys' sometime employer in the years preceding Terry's return to the Air Force. The unforgettable Dragon Lady continued to pop in and out during the life of the strip, looking different every time. The other three holdovers were Terry's big-brother surrogate Pat Ryan, arch-villain Tony Sandhurst and the voiceless giant Big Stoop. Pat returns briefly in Wunder's second continuity, then fades forever. Sandhurst and Big Stoop make their final appearances in this episode.

As a young fan I used to wonder why Wunder didn't use more of Caniff's famous characters. Over the years I realized Wunder probably knew he'd never satisfy anyone with his take on the likes of Burma, Normandie, Flip Corkin, and the other wartime friends and foes Caniff had made famous. I'll wager he decided to make a clean break and create his own group of players who could rise or fall on their own merits. Except for the Dragon Lady; he'd have been a fool to dump her. At any rate, Wunder's story philosophy was different from Caniff's. Instead of complex, intertwining storylines with characters disappearing and reappearing, Wunder told self-contained stories. He almost never brought a character back.

The following Sundays were published in February and March of 1947. Sorry about the missing dates; check Ger's site to view some of them.

2 Feb 1947
16 Feb 1947
23 Feb 1947
2 Mar 1947
9 Mar 1947


Ger Apeldoorn said...

Great stuff! Especially since I have been burned by hermes so uch that I have decided never to buy any of their books anymore unless I have them in my hand. And the few I did, were as badly presented as I feared. Sorry to go on record with this, but I do feel that they are a destructive force in the industry. So if ou have more... let them come!

Smurfswacker said...

I definitely have more Terry Sundays, and I'll be posting them as time permits. Happily, almost all of them are half-pages and have all the artwork...I hate how they started dropping the top row of panes to create 1/2 pages.

I also have a year or so of early dailies, but the things were "trimmed" when they were printed so a good quarter-inch of art is missing at the bottom. Don't know if they're even worth posting.