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Wednesday April 21, 2010 2:45 am

Robert G. Baldwin: Rupe and Freddy




Posted by Tom Mason Categories: Editorials

Rupe 1Freddy is another one of those “forgotten” comic strips that ran for quite a long time, 1956-1980 and then disappeared. If you don’t know to look for it, you might never find it.

Continuing my series on cartooning and cartoonists, Rupe wrote about himself and his work back in 1964. This is pulled from an oversized saddle-stitched magazine from Allied Publications with the creatively-challenged title These Top Cartoonists Tell How They Create America’s Favorite Comics. It featured an introduction by Beetle Bailey’s Mort Walker and was compiled by Allen Willette.

Here’s Rupe on Rupe and Freddy: “Although I sign my work ‘Rupe,’ my real name is Robert G. Baldwin, and I was born in Washington, DC. I’m fifty years old, and I have five children, ages 11 to 22. Four boys and one girl. Frequently the family gathers around my finished work for discussion and, I hope, for a good laugh.

Rupe 2“I received my formal art training at the Corcoran Art School in Washington, DC. Then I spent several years as a hungry ‘fine’ artist. To eat regularly I was in and out of government several times. When out, I worked on comic books and did advertising.

“Mostly, I work at home in a small upstairs, enclosed back porch complete with bath. I also have a drawing board set up in the back of a small ‘bus’ which I drive around town.

“Each panel of a Freddy daily strip is ruled off to 5 1/2 inches square. I use a No. 4 sable brush. I always try to get several good ideas at a time, and I can comfortably do three or four strips each day.”

Naturally, I have some thoughts about this…

FreddyAlright! He drove around town in his own bus where he set up a studio of sorts. I need to know more about this! This is 1964, there’s no Starbucks or Barnes & Noble where he can sit and sip for hours, and with five kids this has to be a cool way to get some quiet time. I’ve never heard of another cartoonist doing this, but I love the idea, and the photo. With its low ceiling and what looks like room for just three rows of seats, this looks more like a van than a bus. Any idea what kind of vehicle this could be?

I like that he shared his work with his family and they all gather around for a communal laugh.

At some point in the 1960s, Howard Rands assisted Baldwin on Freddy. I wonder if they rode around in the bus together? Rands later went on to do his own strip, Twitch, in the 1970s.

Here’s a sample of a typical Freddy Sunday page. Be sure to read the comments for some Freddy-love.

And a sample daily strip is over at Comic Strip Fan.

Ken Pierce Books might still have their Freddy collection in print.

Freddy also made the leap to comic books, published by Dell back in 1963.

Freddy looks like one of the last of the “fatties” genre of kid strips. Norm Feuti created a great webcomic, Gill, that he did for awhile until he recently put it on hold. It would be awesome if circumstances allowed him to return to it. Fortunately, the complete run is still online.

Coming up next…some other cartoonist!

[Artwork: Photos of Rupe aka Robert Baldwin (top and middle); panel from Freddy (bottom)]

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