The Quite Wacky Adventures of Cracky

Country Boy: What are you doing?
City Boy: Drawing.
Country Boy: Where are your guns?
— Submitted by Steven Feinstein, 7, Philadelphia, PA (circa 1965)

Cracky the parrot was introduced in the role of mascot for Western Publishing‘s general-interest kids’ mag The Golden Magazine (1964-71), which heavily drew upon the successful Jack and Jill (published since 1938 by The Saturday Evening Post Society) formula.

For much of its existence, The Golden Magazine thrived, having access to top creative talent from the Western publishing empire (Whitman, Gold Key, Golden Press, Golden Book Encyclopedia…)

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At first, Cracky stuck to sharing reader-submitted jokes. Then, around 1968, he began to show up on covers, generally depicted by versatile Canadian illustrator Mel Crawford (1925-2015). This is one such case, from April, 1969.
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In 1970, Cracky saw his old job expanded, branching out into two titles, Jokes by Cracky and  Pencil Puzzle Fun, the latter outlasting its parent, The Golden Magazine. This is Jokes by Cracky no. 2 (1970); Cover art by Mel Crawford.
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Then, in 1972, it gets interesting: the lowly parrot mascot broke into comics.

As Archie Comics had their Christian-zealot madman in Al Hartley, so did Western in the person of Vic Lockman. A significant difference, however, is that Hartley, despite quite stiff competition, is arguably the very worst Archie artist; he’s certainly got my vote [Seconded! ~ ds]. Lockman (1927-2016), a prolific but often terrible scriptwriter, was a terrific cartoonist, blessed with a gorgeously fluid line and exemplary design sense, lively and detailed. Here, then, is a story from Wacky Adventures of Cracky no. 3 (June, 1973). Script and art, including his distinctive lettering, by Mr. Lockman.

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During the run of his comic book, Cracky (and sidekick Mr. Kaws) wore many hats: detective, inventor (presumably giving Lockman the chance to recycle some of his rejected Gyro Gearloose scripts), ship’s captain, escape artist, sheik… And yes, he did encounter some choice tentacles, but I leave it to my partner to conduct her own investigation. Lockman beautifully handled the first ten issues of WAOC; the instant he stepped away, the thing dissolved into tripe. Avoid accordingly.

Lockman, who seemed a loveable, well-meaning coot, was also twelve kinds of batty. Biblical Economics, anyone? For as full a picture as can be reasonably assembled, read Mark Evanier‘s fine, thoughtful obituary of Lockman.

Lockman was also among those sadly deluded souls (hello, Chuck Dixon) who tried to lay claim to the title of most published comics writer. Let’s face it: the most likely contenders (Joe Gill, Paul S. Newman, Gaylord DuBois) toiled in anonymity for most of their long careers.

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In 1971, The Golden Magazine was sold (to The Saturday Evening Post Company!) and renamed, becoming Young World in 1972. Young World, in turn, got incorporated into Child Life in 1979, but that’s a story for another day. Many of TGM’s features were retained but slightly… tweaked. For instance, see who inherited Cracky’s old desk?

« Moo! I say Moo! »

-RG

4 thoughts on “The Quite Wacky Adventures of Cracky

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