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FOOLISH QUESTIONS & OTHER ODD OBSERVATIONS

Foolish Questions & Other Odd Observations:
Early Comics, 1909-1919
By Rube Goldberg; edited by Peter Maresca and Paul C. Tumey
96 9.5x10-inch pages, mostly b/w but some color
2017 Sunday Press, $35

Foolish Questions coverGoldberg got his name in the dictionary by doing a long series of single-panel cartoons depicting hilarious inventions that deployed complicated mechanisms to accomplish very simple operations, his satire on the dawning modern times. But before he did inventions, he did Foolish Questions. And those made him famous.

Foolish Questions was the title of a single panel cartoon that Goldberg tacked onto an otherwise unrelated comic strip. In common with many newspaper cartoonists in the early years of the 20th Century, Goldberg drew innumerable comic strips and cartoons, most of which were short-lived features that lasted a week or less. But Foolish Questions was a maneuver that could be perpetuated indefinitely by adding it to whatever his comic strip that week was. The best way to tell you about Foolish Questions is to show you Foolish Questions, which we’ve done at the end of the paragraph after the next one.

The volume at hand includes essays by Jennifer George (on “When did you find out you were Rube Goldberg’s granddaughter?”), Tumey (on Goldberg’s career), and Carl Linich (on other Goldberg strips-within-strips features). Some of the other short-lived cartoons include Mike and Ike: The Look-Alike Boys, Telephonies, I’m the Guy (“who put the cast in overcast”), I’m Cured, Old Man Alf of the Alphabet, Boob News, I Never Thought of That, The Boob Family, and Silly Sonnets. To name a few. As always with a Sunday Press book, there’s an extra publication included with the book itself: in this case, four postcards with FQs on them. But who would ever part with them to mail them off to anyone? (A foolish question.)

The first Foolish Question panel appeared October 23, 1908. It was popular enough that the panels were collected in a book published in 1909. Goldberg started numbering the FQs, but the numbers soon became wholly frivolous and altogether nonsequential. Dunno whether the book at hand reprints all of the FQs or only a judicious selection, but there are about 300 of them here, enough to convince you that Goldberg deserved the fame they brought him. Here are some of them.

FoolishQ1

FoolishQ2

 

For more Rants & Raves with its comics news and reviews, gossip and cartooning lore, visit www.RCHarvey.com

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