Review: The Bungle Family


review-bungle family coverThe Bungle Family, by Harry J. Tuthill, is one of those comics strips that has nearly been forgotten with time. But thanks to the Library of American Comics, fans of classic comic strips can experience this important strip, probably for the first time. This volume collects all of the strips from December 20, 1929 to December 31, 1930.

George and Josephine Bungle are your typical middle class American family living the urban city life with their daughter Peggy. Their daily activities include trying to impress the neighbours, trying to make a lot of money with little effort, and befriending every upper class person they come across.

I’m not sure how far back “situation comedy” goes, but this has to be one of the earliest examples. The majority of the strip takes place in their apartment with characters coming and going as if part of a stage play. The dialogue is sharp and witty and shows off middle class attitudes of the era. Take a look at the first two strips from this collection (included below) and you’ll get a perfect example of the kind of exchanges between to the two leads that are found on nearly every page of this book.

Tuthill’s cartooning is very dense. He crams a lot into each of his panels, and what stands out are the fabric patterns found on Josephine’s dress and on their furniture. So much detail would be a no-no for today’s comic strip artists because the strips are reproduced so small, but back in the comic strip golden age, the reproduction size was much larger and allowed for this sort of detail as well as a surprisingly large amount of text. This collection reproduces the strips larger than they appeared in newsprint which really shows off the art. The book is oblong and only features one strip per page. The idea was to create a reading experience that was similar to a what newspaper readers had in those days being forced to read only one strip at a time. Fortunately for us, we get to immediately turn the page and continue the adventure.

The Bungle Family 1930 is the fifth volume of The Library of American Comics Essentials line which collects obscure strips in an affordable format. The strips are printed on high quality newsprint and the hardback package even includes a cloth bookmark. It is a classy package for a classy comic strip. Take a chance on the Bungle Family; you’ll be glad you did.

LOAC Essentials Volume 5: The Bungle Family 1930  | Harry J. Tuthill | 336 pages | IDW/Library of American Comics | ISBN: 978-1613779583

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