The reports this week that the Alley Oop comic strip was on its deathbed may have been premature. Its current creative team signed off in a strip on Saturday for the comic, which debuted on Dec. 5, 1932, but in an interview, John Glynn, president and editorial director of the company that distributes Alley Oop, hinted at a possible future.
The strip’s illustrator, Jack Bender, and writer, Carole Bender, announced their retirement in August. In Saturday’s strip, Ooola (Alley’s girlfriend) asks the title character, “What’s next?” Alley’s response: “Let’s just enjoy the view for a while.” The creators added: “Ah, retirement! Thanks to Alley Oop and our readers for a great ride.”
On Sunday, Andrews McMeel Syndication, which distributes the strip, began running reprints, which will continue through the end of the year. And this week Mr. Glynn said he was encouraged, in part, by a revival of the Nancy strip earlier this year with a new cartoonist, Olivia Jaimes. “It’s exciting for me to think about these older features that have some brand equity that a lot of people still enjoy,” he said.
Other brands have been polished for new audiences before, he said, referring to the reimagining of the characters from Archie Comics on the CW television network. “My daughters, who are 12 and 14, love ‘Riverdale,’ but have never read an Archie comic in their lives,” he said.
Alley Oop is centered around the title character, a cave man dressed in a loincloth who has remarkable abs, and his usually prehistoric exploits in the kingdom of Moo. In 1939, Alley encountered the 20th-century scientist Dr. Elbert Wonmug, who sent the cave man on adventures across time.
Alley Oop was created by the cartoonist Vincent T. Hamlin, who died in 1993 at age 93. The Daily Cartoonist notes that the strip came to an abrupt end on April 24, 1933, but returned after a clamor from fans that summer. It received its first Sunday strip in September 1934. After Mr. Hamlin retired, the strip was taken over by David Graue, who initially joined the Alley Oop team as an editorial assistant in 1950.
Mr. Graue, who died in 2001, worked solo for almost two decades before being joined by the artist Mr. Bender beginning in 1991. Ms. Bender took over as writer in 2001. On Saturday, she posted this message on Facebook:
“Alley Oop has been our constant companion for a big chunk of our lives. Jack started drawing Alley Oop 28 years ago, and I joined him as an assistant 27 years ago. We did some calculations and realized Jack has done 10,966 drawings of Alley Oop dailies and Sundays, and I wrote and colored 6,188 of them. We have loved every moment of getting to be a part of the history of this strip. We’re only the third team to have created Alley Oop since its creation in 1933, and we were fortunate to have direct connections to the first two creators.”
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