More on MY FRIEND IRMA.
Reblogged from http://cartoonician.com/everybodys-friend-remembering-stan-lee-and-dan-decarlos-my-friend-irma/
Everybody’s Friend: Remembering Stan Lee and Dan DeCarlo’s “My Friend Irma”
You’re not familiar with Irma Peterson? In the ’50s, she was Queen of All Media. Andrew Pepoy examines her comic strip incarnation(Note: This article first appeared in Hogan’s Alley #16.)
In the early 1950s, “My Friend Irma” was everywhere, blaring from radios, causing lines at movie theatres, flickering on early televisions and shining brightly on the newsstands as an Atlas comic book written by Stan Lee and drawn by Dan DeCarlo. “Irma” seemed to conquer each new media she tried. Who was “Irma,” you ask? “My Friend Irma” started out as a 1947 summer-replacement radio show but soon became a hit in its own right. Irma Peterson was the dumb-but-sexy blonde with a heart of gold. She caused all sorts of trouble for those around her, especially her roommate, Jane, who narrated Irma’s hijinx. Irma was played by Marie Wilson, who had made a specialty of playing innocent-but-dumb blondes since the mid-’30s. Wilson, whose wide-eyed face and well-endowed figure barely seemed to age over the years, had started out as a Warner Bros. starlet starring alongside James Cagney, Pat O’Brien and others. She also had a featured role in Satan Met Lady, a later adaptation of The Maltese Falcon, but her career hadn’t fared well for a time. Spotted performing live in Earl Carroll’s Vanities and cast as Irma, Wilson was soon back in the big time as Irma. The radio show, which ran until 1954, spun off a My Friend Irma movie (1949)—which also launched the screen careers of Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis—and its sequel, My Friend Irma Goes West (1950).
(To view the images, click on the thumbnails.)
(Below are examples of Seidel’s work on Irma. To view the images, click on the thumbnails.)
Despite the unanswered questions, here is a truly rare strip by two of comics’ greats—a glimpse of a now largely forgotten pop culture phenomenon.—Andrew Pepoy
Andrew Pepoy has drawn the Little Orphan Annie newspaper strip and currently works on comic books including Jack of Fables for DC Comics and Futurama for Bongo Comics. His website is pepoy.com.
Note: For those interested in more about Marie Wilson, the author recommends Charles Tranberg’s Not So Dumb: The Life and Career of Marie Wilson by Charles Tranberg, published in 2007 by Bear Manor Media. For more on My Friend Irma, many of the radio shows survive and can be found through various old-time radio show dealers such as www.otrcat.com. The television series, being done live, is almost entirely lost, and only three episodes are known to have survived as kinescopes, though a short bit with the Irma cast can be found on “Stars in the Air,” a 1952 special celebrating the opening of Television City in Hollywood and available at www.otrdvd.com. The two movies, conveniently, were recently release as a double-feature DVD by Paramount.
Bonus: What About Willie?Stan Lee and Dan DeCarlo also collaborated on the Willie Lumpkin newspaper strip, which began and ended in 1960. (Willie later gained comics immortality a few years later when Lee reincarnated him as the Fantastic Four’s affable mailman.) We are pleased to present a sampling of this little-seen strip (click the thumbnails to see enlargements).