Comic Collection Review: The Gumps: The Saga of Mary Gold by Sidney Smith

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This is another of the collections put out by the Library of American Comics, which highlights the series and years which had a significant impact on comic history.  This is one of the big ones.  You can get this collection on Amazon Here: http://www.amazon.com/LOAC-Essentials-Library-American-Comics/dp/1613775733/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1461420533&sr=1-1

In 1929, Sidney Smith was riding high with the longtime establishment of his world famous comic The Gumps.  Sidney was earning over a million dollars during the 1920’s if you can imagine what that kind of money meant back then.  This was truly the heyday of comic creators as far as paydays went.  It was long before Radio and Television took those markets away from newspapers.

During this year Smith began the saga of Mary Gold.  Spoiler alert, it is the first time a major character died in a comic strip.  There was a long story line set up between Mary being involved in a love triangle as two men vied for her affections.  The slimy, unscrupulous businessman Henry J. Ausstinn & Tom Carr, the inventor working on a top secret perpetual motion device.

Sidney Smith was also an innovator in his style of story telling, he would add teasers and re-caps to his strips to remind readers of the complicated storylines which trace all the way through the strip.  This format was later appropriated by Soap Operas as a way of hooking viewers.

The Mary Gold story line does not really revolve around the main characters of the Gumps, they actually play a sort of side role in this story line and keep it all together.  Andy Gump initially sees Henry J. Ausstinn as a great man, much like his own opinion of himself and a fellow businessman.  He sees Tom Carr as a good young man with a good idea, but quickly turns against him after Tom is beaten and robbed of the money that Andy invested with him.  The man behind the crime is none other than Henry J. Ausstinn.

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This is an overview of the Gumps as they originally appeared, but they soon evolved as all the great comics do, into something much more than a gag a day strip.  Sidney Smith captivated a nation with his complex storylines which were followed daily in all the major newspapers of the day.  This was the sort of watercooler talk which could be enjoyed by anyone during that era since newspapers were ubiquitous much like computers and television are today.

If you want to read a comic that will captivate you and keep you turning the pages like a well worn novel, then check out The Gumps and see what it is all about.  Sidney Smith changed the face of comics back in 1929 and the echoes of his impact are still being felt today.  This is a must have for any serious collector, or anyone interested in comics.

Until next time True Believers, may your mug always be frosted and your root beer always foamy.

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