Wednesday, March 19, 2008
Information on FOO continues to arrive in my mailbox. These tiny Ebay scans show the cover of the Feb/Mar issue for 1952, an interior spoof of an ad for O'Peefes beer, a back page spoof ad, and the cover for FOO no. 4, May 1952. FOO resembles a fifties men's magazine with the prominent showcasing of the word "sex" on all three covers. The whole package looks like it was put together by a canny advertising team.
I have been uncertain whether this was a Canadian magazine or an American magazine printed in Canada. There was an American publisher, Monarch publishing, actively publishing soft porn paperbacks in Chicago in the sixties with come-on titles like So Sweet So Wicked (1961). The O'Peefes advertisement is a spoof on a famous Canadian beer called O'Keefes which makes the Canadian manufacture begin to look more and more likely.
Sol M. Davidson's comment (See last post) that it was “pretty obviously written and drawn by Americans, but it was printed in Canada and exported to the U.S." may not be correct at all. If it turns out to be a Canadian publisher the more likely scenario is that it was tailored to an American market and an American audience. Successful magazines on the Canadian market have always been few and far between.
FOO targets adults with such tales as "Love Life of the South American Male Flea," it's also noticable anti-communist. One thing interesting to note is that the first issue had a byline "by the editors of MUD." Mud Magazine? That may be a joke -- or -- Monarch may have published more than one magazine. The cover artwork is as raw as the work of Charles Burns.
From the looks of things FOO was not that funny, the humor is very heavy-handed lowbrow stuff. The magazine may be important as one of the first of the post-war comic magazines to influence the kind of sick Cold War humor of Kurtzman and Gaines MAD, and Kurtzman's TRUMP, HUMBUG, and HELP magazines. Mad's humor was much more intelligent than the work of FOO, had more talented contributors and was longer lasting.
There is no absolute proof that Kurtzman or Gaines had ever seen a copy but it's almost certain that they would have been for sale on New York newstands. I suspect that every cartoonist who ever worked for EC haunted newstand soaking up the popular culture of the day. At any rate these comic ephemera remain as a tantalising glimpse back at a period when the World was filled with anxiety over the atomic bomb and the Korean war.