Monday, April 29, 2024

Today in Comics History, April 29: Happy birthday, Duke Ellington!

Born on this day in 1899, making him one of the original geniuses on the twentieth century: jazz pianist, composer, and bandleader Duke Ellington ("Take the "A" Train," "In a Sentimental Mood," "Prelude to a Kiss," "The Mooche," "I Got It Bad (And That Ain't Good)," "Mood Indigo," "In a Sentimental Mood," "Rockin' in Rhythm," and many, many more jazz classics you know in your head and heart)!

from Juke Box Comics #5 (Eastern Color, November 1948), creator unidentified and unknown

Aw gee, but text pages? After all, "Writing about music is like dancing about comic books," said the great Alice B. Toklas, and she should know. Let's see The Duke in action* on the comic book pages! *Not literally Action Comics. here's a short, beautifully drawn bio (also from Juke Box Comics). Eastern Color Comics is long out of business and I declare this "public doman," so I'm gonna post the whole three-page story. Unfortunately, it's sadly less about his music than his own particular quirks.

"Duke Ellington" from Juke Box Comics #1 (Eastern Color, March 1948), pencils and inks by Alvin Hollingsworth

That just may have been the very first comic book story that tried to senak in a text page at the end.

Like Ella Fitzgerald, Eastern Color probably stipulated the Duke endorse this comic in part exchange for featuring him:

(I call no way on that being Buddy Rich's actual signature.)

The "Kernel Korn" feature about a all-around braggart — he's kind of a Canadian "Commander McBragg" — ropes Duke Ellington into his nonsense:

"Kernel Korn" from Dime Comics #20 (Bell Feature (Canada), c. April 1945), by Harry Brunt

But, as the late great Alan Rickman once declared, "Comic book blogging about music is like smelling about the F.A. Cup," and oh-so-right he was. So here's Ellington doin' what he did best: music!

"The Mooche" by Duke Ellington and his Orchestra, written by Duke Ellington and Irving Mills

Happy birthday, Duke!

1 comment:

Manqueman said...

Billy Strayhorn. 'Nuff said.