Barney & Clyde & Geezers & Zippy & Bill-the-Cat

B&C have been going in for geezer / boomer / retro references a bit lately.

The sender of the Spy v Spy one remarks Prohias stopped drawing “Spy vs. Spy” in 1987, and died in 1998. § Wikipedia claims that the series is still “ongoing”, but I still wonder whether the character in the fourth panel would be recognized by anyone under the age of 50.

Meanwhile, back at the Zippy, more geezer callout action:

William Bendix was among the actors I came to know of from 1950s or early 60s television sitcoms or sometimes drama series ; and found out later had been minor or major movie stars in the 1940s or early 50s. Fred MacMurray, Donna Reed, Raymond Burr…

And from Brian in STL we have a synchronicity of Bill the Cat references:


  1. Berke Breathed is still (occasionally) drawing “Bloom County” material, but the GoComics feature is still dated “2019” and has not displayed anything new since June 2020. Tbat means the only way to see his newer artwork is to visit Zuckerberg’s odious rabbit hole.

  2. I think “Spy v Spy” is still fairly well known, certainly more so than Howdy Doody and Princess Summerfall Winterspring.

  3. I’d never seen Howdy Doody (no TV in our house ’til I was about 17 or so), but I still recognized the reference.When the last of us Baby Boomers die out, so will our cultural references.

  4. Spy Vs. Spy being a comic itself is likely to make it more recognizable to folks of any age who read comic strips. Now, outside of the currently printed Spy Vs. Spy in Mad, folks under 50 may also recognize the characters from a live action ad campaign for Mountain Dew, a Playstation 2 game, and from recurring animated segments on MadTV and Cartoon Network’s Mad series, all of which appeared in the past two decades. None of these things, though, had a cultural footprint on par with Mad Magazine during the 60s and 70s.

  5. And for fans of MAD, Tom Richmond has a blog, with new caricatures ev’ry week plus a reminiscence or two about his time at MAD . . . he takes requests from his readers (i get my fix via email) for caricature subjects; he did Tom Waits at my suggestion a few weeks ago.

  6. I’ve started reading Mary Worth. It’s mildly funny, and I place bets with myself how long a particular character will agonize of their particular worry before they go see Mary so she can stuff them with muffins and dole out trite advice.

  7. I didn’t see the Howdy Doody Show that I recall. I was curious is Summerfall Winterspring was live or puppet, and the answer is yes. The character started as a marionette, then transitioned to a live actor.

  8. The last moments of the very last HOWDY DOODY SHOW are well-remembered by us geezers who were around then. Everyone talked about the “circus” (show setting) shutting down, and Clarabell, the mute clown, kept running around honking at people and somehow hinting he had a secret. As the show faded toward closing, Buffalo Bob sang a modified version of the regular song (“It’s time to go — there’s no more show — good bye, little friends, good bye….”) and Clarabell’s honking finally got through to him and he somehow realized that the clown’s secret was that he COULD talk after all, and he pulled him up in front of the camera and begged him to say something on the show for the first and only time. His eyes streaming with real tears, Clarabell said “Goodbye, kids,” and the screen faded to black.

  9. As many of you know, the original Clarabell was first played by Bob Keeshan, who went on to be Captain Kangaroo. Now that was a show I viewed all the time as a kid.

  10. I’m bothered by Zippy’s “Boomer cohort”. It covers two full generations (Boomers and Gen-X) plus about half of the Silent Generation and the earliest Millennials. I’m on the cusp between Boomer and Gen-X and William Bendix and Anne Baxter are names that sound familiar, but I had to look them up to know more than just “actor”. And I’ve played lots of video games.

  11. Like Brian, I had occasional viewing of Howdy Doody, but was a more attentive fan of Captain Kangaroo.

    Recently I was trying to track down the song “Daniel, the Crocker Spaniel” (and will tell you why in a moment), and started looking by thinking it was a Captain Kangaroo original. But no, and it wasn’t even treated as primarily performed on their show, nor was the show the source of the available online performances.

    I’m not going to track down a link right now, but for those who do remember the song, please compare against the first big theme of Schubert’s Symphony No. 8 (“Unfinished”).

  12. Bendix was also all over Old-Time Radio. Life of Reilly was a popular radio show before it was a TV show.

    I don’t get the “video game; 40 t0 89” reference in Zippy. I’m in my 60s, and played TONS of video games in my 20s.

  13. Thanks, Ignatz. I was surprised at how many of those early TV shows had been adapted from radio. If this is our names-spelling day, I’ll note it was “Life of Riley” — and I blame them for my not recognizing until very late that “Reilly” is the far more common form of that name, and not as I had grown up supposing, some very subordinate alternate.

  14. Living within range of Chicago TV and radio stations, Garfield Goose is the only show I remember seeing, but in my later years (when the double entendres were recognizable) . . . both my Mom and I watched it, but not regularly or fervently.

  15. @DemetriosX: you ever notice that most things ascribed to the Baby Boomers were mostly perpetrated by the Silent Generation? I think I mentioned it here once, that of the “Talking ‘Bout My Generation” The Who, only one member was actually a Baby Boomer, the other three were Silent Generation. Unsurprisingly, Bill Griffith (1944) is Silent Generation, not Baby Boomer.

  16. As an adult I eventually came to realize that newspapers would not be publishing soap opera strips unless they had a sizeable readership, but as a kid I detested them as a waste of otherwise usable comic space, and in college I preferred to call the lead example “Mary Worthless“. Even now I still consider them to be a waste of newsprint, but in digital form they are much easier to avoid.

    P.S. One of the reasons that I quit reading Josh’s “Comics Curmudgeon” was that he spends (far) too much time on dissecting incongruities and inanities in soap opera strips.

  17. The baby boom refers to the years 1946 to 1964, the years of high birth rates. That is a span of 18 years. Woodstock was in 1969, when the oldest boomers were 23 and the youngest were 5. When the Vietnam War ended in 1975, the oldest were 29 and the youngest were 11. In a high school in 1968, every male student knew he was likely to be drafted if he didn’t go to college. In a high school in 1978, nobody worried about being drafted.

    The youngest boomers and the oldest boomers lived in two very different cultures. The early boomers had Skinny Elvis. The late boomers had Fat Elvis.

  18. I’m a European Baby Boomer – born in 1948 in Amsterdam. When my parents thought Europe would never recover from The War, they came to the US, in 1954.

  19. @ Andréa – The “Clamdip Trio” in that FBoFW strip strongly indicates that the song was just made up (and not a real “one hit wonder”). Therefore, the reference to “Arnold Roth” appears to be some sort of a tribute. I’m just not sure whether it was supposed to be for the cartoonist or the musician.

  20. @ MiB – One can quibble about the dates, but the “official” census bureau definition (1946-1964) is actually a span of 19 years (because the initial element counts).

    P.S. I was somewhat worried about the draft as a pre-teen during the final years of the Vietnam war, but in 1980 I was very relieved that the leading presidential candidate promised to dismantle the draft system entirely. Of course, after the lying bastard was elected, he reneged on his promise, so we all still had to register:

  21. In a high school in 1978, nobody worried about being drafted.

    Certainly, as there was no draft. I was among the first that never had to register.

  22. One source stated: “Synopsis: As Elly drives to work, she sings along to a fictional cover version of a real song from the Big Band Era by a made-up Canadian jazz combo.”

    In the comments, Lynn’s quoted remarks indicate that it was both, it’s a shout-out to the cartoonist who was also a musician.

  23. @ Brian in StL – The law requiring American men(†) to register for the draft is still in force, although there have not been any prosecutions since 1986. However, it was (and probably still is) one of the conditions for getting student loans for college. Back then it was handled by the U.S. Post Office:

    P.S. (†) – A recent successful challenge to the law based on sex discrimination was overturned upon appeal and subsequently (and predictably) ignored by the Supreme Court.

  24. I registered when I had to at college, but then never subsequently updated my address as required, so for all they know (and as Zonker points out, it is the Post Office we’re talking about here), they still think I live in my college dorm room. (And I went away for college, and then left there and never lived in that area again.) On the other hand, the university alumni magazine has faithfully followed me through all my US addresses, like the clap.

  25. The Baby Boom years are designated as such merely based on the high numbers of births. It is not based on cultural eras. If it were, it would have to be divided in two or three: those shaped by Vietnam, those before and those after. As far as I know, “Gen X”, “Gen Y”, “Millennials” and so on are based on cultural factors, not birth rates.

    Similarly it’s been said that the Twentieth Century began on May 29, 1913 with the performance of Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring”, or that it began on July 28,1914, the start of World War I. The Twenty-First Century began on September 11, 2001.

    Arlo & Janis started out as baby boomers, but Jimmy Johnson has said that the characters age by about one year for every two years of real time. So are they still baby boomers or were they born too late?

  26. And (in the field of English Literature anyway) the Nineteenth Century began a couple years early, in 1798, with the publication of Lyrical Ballads by Coleridge and Wordsworth.

  27. I was going to jump in here to point out the song “It’s Lovely Day” was very real, but it seems that has already been covered. And while I never heard of a Clamdip Trio, Tommy Dorsey had a Dixieland sub-group of his big band called the Clambake 7, so there’s that.

  28. I was not affected by the alleged “end” of the draft, I was only affected by the resurrected requirement to register.

  29. “That song was a generation old when you first heard it.”

    There were a few songs like that in my family, mostly novelty songs or close to it. “One meatball”. “Mairzy Doats”.

  30. “One Meat Ball”, originally “The Lone Ball of Fish”, was written in 1855 by Harvard professor George Martin Lane. It was based on a true incident. When Lane was a student, he was hungry and the cheapest item at the restaurant was a plate of macaroni for 25 cents. But he had only 13 cents so he ordered a half portion of macaroni. “What followed is described, doubtless with humorous exaggeration, in the ballad itself.”

  31. Mark in Boston – is that as is in “you get no bread with one meatball”? which is all remember of it.

    A classmate’s birthday was Nov 1 – he was born in a leap year – and his draft number was 366.

  32. @ Mitch – During an interview that I had to record for an assignment in junior high school, an assistant principal quoted the first line from “Mairzy Doats“, but he did not explain what it was, nor how it was spelled. This led me on a wild-goose chase. trying to track it down. Not knowing the “correct” spelling, I could not find the words in any (printed) reference work (this was over a decade before the advent of the Internet), so all I could do was try to transcribe it. My version on paper was closer to the “intended” meaning than the actual spelling in the song, and I got a good bit of ribbing for it from my teacher.

  33. Meryl A: That’s the one. Fish balls were a popular thing in Boston in the 19th century. Think of crab cakes, only made with cod or haddock instead of crab.

    Just as the original songwriter turned the half portion of macaroni into a fish ball, the lyrics were eventually updated to make it a meatball.

  34. Dictionaries, encyclopedias, research desk at the library, teachers, parents. Not necessarily in that order.

  35. I use dictionaries so often that they permanently live on the dining table.

    And I’d much rather look at my Times Atlas Of The World than Google…

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