Ken’s latest, “Skee-Ball Week Continues, with a Brief, Scholarly Interlude!” sheds light on many matters, including the ground-breaking introduction of “Spats” Murphy into the 1930’s serial Guy Sterling.
Ken is a freakin’ genius, and this skee-ball coverage is the best work he’s done in the context of his blog, possibly the best work he’s ever done to date.
His detailed scholarship throws the many questions most readers have concerning the historical development of skee ball, with, of course, special emphasis on the fruitful cross pollination of celebrity endorsement with adolescent serial in the surprisingly neglected Happy Boy Magazine:
Anyway, I thought that before I continued with the Guy Sterling reprints, I’d get you all caught up to speed, so to speak, with the following excerpt from Scott Scoglio’s article “Magazines for Adolescents in the Pre-War Era,” which appeared in the American Library Association publication Periodicals Quarterly.]
While other serials had occasionally featured real-life celebrities in cameo roles, the Guy Sterling serial was the first to actually use them as full-fledged characters, interacting as part of the storyline. Some of the nation’s top Skee-Ballers, including Brinks McGillicuddy, Bobby Knowles, and Ray Rayberg, were signed to licensing contracts and became major players in the Skee-Ball Champion storyline. During a time when the sports press was much smaller and the private lives of athletes were far more private, these stories gave many young fans the idea that they were seeing the men behind the legends.
I shan’t cite further. Suffice to say, if you value your heritage as an American, and harbor curiosity about or love for the colorful role of the pulps in creating contemporary American pop culture, you owe it to yourself to get up-to-date on Skee ball Week at the Illuminated Donkey.