It was with a mixture of Bliss and sadness that I finished reading volume 2 of Jack Kent's KING AROO the other day. AROO is a genuine Hidden Gem, a not-widely syndicated comic strip that ran in newspapers for a decade and a half, from 1950 to 1965, kept afloat during that time more by its ardent supporters within the industry than by the kind of reader success found by Charles Schulz and others. The Library of American Comics was able to bring two volumes of the strip back into print in 2012 and 2013, covering adventures through 1954, but as LOAC Associate Editor (and longtime personal friend) Bruce Canwell informed me, humor does not seem to be performing well with the modern audience.
This is probably because no one under the age of about fifty even knows what humor is anymore, or has been exposed to genuine humor in any of the available mediums, but that's a subject for another post, maybe.
The message I want to get through here is that KING AROO is a rare joy and a delight: dealing in the adventures and conflations had by the citizens of the little kingdom of Myopia. There's Aroo himself of course, the pudgy, earnest and well-meaning if ineffectual ruler of the land, aided and abetted by his jack-of-all trades retainer, Yupyop. There's Wanda Witch (a personal favorite), and Professor Yorgle, and Mister Elephant (who is of course the most forgetful resident), and Mr. Pennipost (a kangaroo who serves as the local postman) -- and a host of others, as has sometimes been said; even, occasionally, the Beautiful Princess from the kingdom next door, who may or may not be a frog under a spell. The humor is frequently reliant on whimsey and puns; and it's always gentle, kind-hearted and charming -- something we need more of in the 21st century!
I was saving the second volume for Someday, and this winter proved to be That Day. I'm very sad that it's over, I love it that much, but I know that I will return to these books (which I believe are still available, hint hint) again in the future. They are Just That Delightful. They make me Happy in a world that is currently crushing happiness as fast as it can push its shoots through the surface.
For your edification, I include a few AROO strips below (click to enlarge, I think) that I was able to glean from online sources. If you like the samples, you will LOVE the books, as I do. And Because Reasons, here is an interview with LOAC Associate Editor Bruce Canwell -- who additionally, wrote the new QUIRK adventure which I'll be posting at this site, come Springtime. Everything that The Library of American Comics publishes is worth your attention, but KING AROO is good for the SOUL. It will pick you up, dust you off make you smile and put a bounce in your step.