Friday, May 13, 2022

Today in Comics History, May 13: Happy birthday, Arthur Sullivan!

Born on this very day in 1842, so you'd better get peddling on your time bike if you want to see him make his spectacular debut: Arthur Sullivan, half of the laff-riot stand-up comedy team of Gilbert and Sullivan, and composer of one zillion light operas like H.M.S. Pinafore, The Pirates of Penzance, The Mikado, Patience, The Yeoman of the Guard, Iolanthe, Ruddigore, The Gondoliers, and The Rise of Skywalker.

Now, musical composers are always difficult subjects to find in comic books, unless you're leafing through the pages of P. Craig Russell's Night Music, books from the Marvel Music line like Bob Marley: Tale of the Tuff Gong or Billy Ray Cyrus, or maybe Jennifer Love Hewitt's Music Box. Perhaps if I had a copy of this on my shelves in the Great Bully Underground Vault of Comics:

But I don't.

Like it often does, though, MAD magazine comes to the rescue, because remember those MAD musicals with new parody lyrics set to the tunes of popular songs? Yep, they did a few Gilbert and Sullivan ones. Get your popcorn and settle into the stalls for this timely spoof!

from "A Day With J-F-K" in MAD #67 (December 1961), script by Larry Siegel, pencils and inks by Mort Drucker

Yes, the favorite melodies of every kid: Gilbert and Sullivan songs! (Get yer grandparents to hum 'em for ya, rugrats.) Of course, that didn't stop the Usual Gang of Idiots and Mort Drucker from doing the whole shebang again one whole decade later with everybody's favorite crook President, Richard M. Nixon! (The "M" is for "melodic"!)

from "The White House Follies of '72" in MAD #150 (April 1972), script by Frank Jacobs, pencils and inks by Mort Drucker

MAD also posited that very positedly question: "What If Famous Authors Wrote the Comics?" Well, first of all, Korvac would kill all the Avengers. And second of all:

from "If Famous Authors Wrote the Comics" in MAD #46 (April 1959), script by Frank Jacobs, pencils and inks by Wally Wood

So in conclusion, and for those of you who, like me, thought it was just Reginald Perrin's middle name, here's a quick-read summary of Iolanthe. It's about fairies. I think this is where Tinker Bell got her start.

from "Iolanthe" in Classics Illustrated #86 (Gilberton, August 1951), creators uncredited and unknown

Happy birthday, Arthur Sullivan, and y'all join me back here on November 18 for exactly the same post, because I don't have anything else specific for W.S. Gilbert. Alas!

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