Toonerville Folks

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Fontaine Fox's Toonerville Folks (February 15, 1931)

Toonerville Folks (aka The Toonerville Trolley That Meets All the Trains) was a popular newspaper cartoon feature by Fontaine Fox, which ran from 1908 to 1955. It began in 1908 in the Chicago Post, and by 1913, it was syndicated nationally by the Wheeler Syndicate. From the 1930s on, it was distributed by the McNaught Syndicate.[1]

Characters and story[edit]

The single-panel gag cartoon was a daily look at Toonerville, situated in what are now called the suburbs. Central to the strip was the rickety little trolley called the "Toonerville Trolley that met all the trains," driven in a frenzy by the grizzly old Skipper to meet each commuter train as it arrived in town. A few of the many richly formed characters included the Terrible-Tempered Mr. Bang, the Physically Powerful Katrinka, Little Woo-Woo Wortle, Aunt Eppie Hogg (The Fattest Lady in 3 Counties) and Mickey McGuire, the town bully.

Origin[edit]

Fox described the inspiration for the cartoon series in an article he wrote for The Saturday Evening Post titled "A Queer Way to Make a Living" (February 11, 1928, page six):

After years of gestation, the idea for the Toonerville Trolley was born one day up in Westchester County when my wife and I had left New York City to visit Charlie Voight, the cartoonist, in the Pelhams. At the station, we saw a rattletrap of a streetcar, which had as its crew and skipper a wistful old codger with an Airedale beard. He showed as much concern in the performance of his job as you might expect from Captain Hartley when docking the Leviathan.

Films[edit]

Between 1920 and 1922, 17 Toonerville silent film comedy adaptations were scripted by Fox for Philadelphia's Betzwood Film Company. These starred Dan Mason as the Skipper with Wilna Hervey as Katrinka. Only seven of those 17 shorts survive today. Four are preserved in the Betzwood Film Archive at Montgomery County Community College, Blue Bell, Pennsylvania. [2]

Mickey Rooney starred as Mickey McGuire in more than 55 comedy shorts filmed between 1927 and 1936. Rooney (né Joe Yule, Jr.) adopted the professional name Mickey McGuire for a time before finally settling on the last name Rooney. The first of three Van Beuren Studios animated cartoons adapted from the syndicated panels was released by RKO on January 17, 1936. Some of those became available on laserdisc in 1994[3] and later, on DVD from Image Entertainment in 1999. Katinka was animated by Joseph Barbera.[4]

Fontaine Fox's Toonerville Folks (1917).

A Toonerville Trolley cartoon, "Lost and Found," was included in Simple Gifts, a Christmas collection of six animated shorts shown on PBS TV in 1977.

Over the years, various Toonerville characters acted as spokesmen for popular products of the day. Skipper, Flem Proddy and Katrinka appeared throughout the decades in advertisements for Drano, Kellogg's cereals and Chef Boyardee foods.[5]

Reprints[edit]

Between 1934 and 1940, comic book reprints of the panel appeared in many issues of All-American Comics, Famous Funnies and Popular Comics. In 1995, the strip was one of 20 included in the Comic Strip Classics series of commemorative United States postage stamps.

In 1972, Herb Galewitz and Don Winslow compiled Fontaine Fox's Toonerville Trolley, a 184 page book of daily panels, for Weathervane Books, an imprint of Charles Scribner's Sons.

Filmography[edit]

TitleOriginal release dateDirector
Toonerville TrolleyJanuary 17, 1936Burt Gillett, Tom Palmer
Trolley AhoyJuly 3, 1936Burt Gillett
Toonerville PicnicOctober 2, 1936Burt Gillett

In popular usage[edit]

"Toonerville Trolley" has been used as a nickname for various specific trolleys in towns and cities across the United States and Canada.[6]

Stephen King had a character in Pet Sematary refer to a drug trip on Tuinals as a ride on the "Toonerville Trolley".

In William Gass Middle C, the main character lists some of the kinds of people he doesn't like, including "the nutsy fagans and other detrolleyed toonervilles".[7]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Markstein, Don. Toonopedia: Toonerville Folks
  2. ^ The Surviving Betzwood Films
  3. ^ Toonerville cartoons on laserdisc.
  4. ^ Joseph Barbera: My Life in 'Toons: From Flatbush to Bedrock in Under a Century, Turner Pub, Nashville 1995, ISBN 978-1-57036-042-8, p 44
  5. ^ Toonerville characters as product spokesmen.
  6. ^ See quotations in the Wiktionary entry.
  7. ^ p. 274.

External links[edit]