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Alley Oop

Alley Oop

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Alley Oop is a syndicated comic strip
Comic strip
A comic strip is a sequence of drawings arranged in interrelated panels to display brief humor or form a narrative, often serialized, with text in balloons and captions....

, created in 1932 by American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

A cartoon is a form of two-dimensional illustrated visual art. While the specific definition has changed over time, modern usage refers to a typically non-realistic or semi-realistic drawing or painting intended for satire, caricature, or humor, or to the artistic style of such works...

ist V. T. Hamlin
V. T. Hamlin
Vincent Trout Hamlin , who preferred the name V. T. Hamlin, created the popular, long-run comic strip Alley Oop, syndicated by the Newspaper Enterprise Association....

, who wrote and drew the popular and influential strip through four decades for Newspaper Enterprise Association
United Media
United Media is a large editorial column and comic strip newspaper syndication service based in the United States, owned by The E.W. Scripps Company. It syndicates 150 comics and editorial columns worldwide. Its core business is the United Feature Syndicate and the Newspaper Enterprise Association...

. Hamlin introduced an engaging cast of characters, and his storylines entertained with a combination of adventure, fantasy and humor.

Alley Oop, the strip's title character, was a sturdy citizen in the prehistoric kingdom of Moo. He rode his pet dinosaur
Dinosaurs are a diverse group of animals of the clade and superorder Dinosauria. They were the dominant terrestrial vertebrates for over 160 million years, from the late Triassic period until the end of the Cretaceous , when the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event led to the extinction of...

, Dinny, carried a stone war hammer
War hammer
A war hammer is a late medieval weapon of war intended for close combat action, the design of which resembles the hammer.The war hammer consists of a handle and a head...

 and wore nothing but a fur loincloth. He would rather fight dinosaurs in the jungle than deal with his fellow countrymen in Moo's capital (and only) cave-town. In spite of these exotic settings, the stories were often satire
Satire is primarily a literary genre or form, although in practice it can also be found in the graphic and performing arts. In satire, vices, follies, abuses, and shortcomings are held up to ridicule, ideally with the intent of shaming individuals, and society itself, into improvement...

s of American suburb
The word suburb mostly refers to a residential area, either existing as part of a city or as a separate residential community within commuting distance of a city . Some suburbs have a degree of administrative autonomy, and most have lower population density than inner city neighborhoods...

an life.

Characters and story

  • Alley Oop - A time-traveling caveman
  • Ooola - Oop's pretty girlfriend
  • Foozy - Oop's pal, who talks in rhyme
  • Dinny - Oop's pet dinosaur
  • King Guzzle - Ruler of Moo
  • Queen Umpateedle - Queen of Moo
  • The Grand Wizer - Advisor to the king
  • Dr. Elbert Wonmug - 20th century scientist / inventor
  • G. Oscar Boom - Rival / partner to Wonmug

The first stories took place in the Stone Age
Stone Age
The Stone Age is a broad prehistoric period, lasting about 2.5 million years , during which humans and their predecessor species in the genus Homo, as well as the earlier partly contemporary genera Australopithecus and Paranthropus, widely used exclusively stone as their hard material in the...

, and centered on Alley Oop's dealings with his fellow cavemen in the kingdom of Moo. Oop and his pals had occasional skirmishes with the rival kingdom of Lem, ruled by King Tunk. The names Moo and Lem are references to the fabled lost continents of Mu
Mu (lost continent)
Mu is the name of a hypothetical continent that allegedly existed in one of Earth's oceans, but disappeared at the dawn of human history.The concept and the name were proposed by 19th century traveler and writer Augustus Le Plongeon, who claimed that several ancient civilizations, such as those of...

 and Lemuria
Lemuria (continent)
Lemuria is the name of a hypothetical "lost land" variously located in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. The concept's 19th century origins lie in attempts to account for discontinuities in biogeography; however, the concept of Lemuria has been rendered obsolete by modern theories of plate tectonics...


On April 5, 1939, Hamlin introduced a new plot device, which greatly expanded his choice of plot lines: a time machine
Time travel
Time travel is the concept of moving between different points in time in a manner analogous to moving between different points in space. Time travel could hypothetically involve moving backward in time to a moment earlier than the starting point, or forward to the future of that point without the...

, invented by the 20th century scientist Dr. Elbert Wonmug, who bore a rather suspicious resemblance to the Grand Wizer. The name Wonmug was a bilingual pun on Albert Einstein
Albert Einstein
Albert Einstein was a German-born theoretical physicist who developed the theory of general relativity, effecting a revolution in physics. For this achievement, Einstein is often regarded as the father of modern physics and one of the most prolific intellects in human history...

; "ein" is German
German language
German is a West Germanic language, related to and classified alongside English and Dutch. With an estimated 90 – 98 million native speakers, German is one of the world's major languages and is the most widely-spoken first language in the European Union....

 for "one", and a "stein
Beer stein
Beer stein , or simply stein, is an English neologism for either traditional beer mugs made out of stoneware, or specifically ornamental beer mugs that are usually sold as souvenirs or collectibles...

" is a form of drinking mug.

Abducted to the 20th century by an early test of the machine, Oop was hardly upset by the incident and apparently did not find modern society to be any different from his own. He then became Dr. Wonmug's man in the field, embarking on expeditions to various periods and places in history, such as Ancient Egypt
Ancient Egypt
Ancient Egypt was an ancient civilization of Northeastern Africa, concentrated along the lower reaches of the Nile River in what is now the modern country of Egypt. Egyptian civilization coalesced around 3150 BC with the political unification of Upper and Lower Egypt under the first pharaoh...

, the England of Robin Hood
Robin Hood
Robin Hood was a heroic outlaw in English folklore. A highly skilled archer and swordsman, he is known for "robbing from the rich and giving to the poor", assisted by a group of fellow outlaws known as his "Merry Men". Traditionally, Robin Hood and his men are depicted wearing Lincoln green clothes....

 and the American Old West
American Old West
The American Old West, or the Wild West, comprises the history, geography, people, lore, and cultural expression of life in the Western United States, most often referring to the latter half of the 19th century, between the American Civil War and the end of the century...

. Oop met such historical or mythical figures as Cleopatra, King Arthur
King Arthur
King Arthur is a legendary British leader of the late 5th and early 6th centuries, who, according to Medieval histories and romances, led the defence of Britain against Saxon invaders in the early 6th century. The details of Arthur's story are mainly composed of folklore and literary invention, and...

 and Ulysses
Odysseus or Ulysses was a legendary Greek king of Ithaca and the hero of Homer's epic poem the Odyssey. Odysseus also plays a key role in Homer's Iliad and other works in the Epic Cycle....

 in his adventures. In addition to the time machine, other science fiction devices were introduced. Oop once drove an experimental electric-powered race car, and in the 1940s, he traveled to the moon. During his adventures he was often accompanied by his girlfiend Ooola and by the sometimes villainous, sometimes heroic G. Oscar Boom (G.O. Boom), Dr. Wonmug's rival and occasional partner. A new lab assistant, Ava, joined the cast in recent years.

Syndication history

Alley Oop's name derived from the "let's go" phrase allez, hop!, used as a cue by French gymnasts and trapeze artists. Initially, Alley Oop was a daily strip
Daily strip
A daily strip is a newspaper comic strip format, appearing on weekdays, Monday through Saturday, as contrasted with a Sunday strip, which typically only appears on Sundays....

 which had a run from December 5, 1932 to April 26, 1933. Beginning August 7, 1933, the strip was distributed by NEA
United Media
United Media is a large editorial column and comic strip newspaper syndication service based in the United States, owned by The E.W. Scripps Company. It syndicates 150 comics and editorial columns worldwide. Its core business is the United Feature Syndicate and the Newspaper Enterprise Association...

 syndicate, and the early material was reworked for a larger readership. The strip added a full page Sunday strip
Sunday strip
A Sunday strip is a newspaper comic strip format, where comic strips are printed in the Sunday newspaper, usually in a special section called the Sunday comics, and virtually always in color. Some readers called these sections the Sunday funnies...

, on September 9, 1934. It also appeared in half page, tabloid and half tab formats, which were smaller and/or dropped panels. During World War II, the full page vanished, and newspapers were offered a third of a page version that dropped panels, so more strips could fit on a page.

When V. T. Hamlin retired in 1971, his assistant Dave Graue took over. Graue had been assisting Hamlin since 1950 and had been doing the daily solo since 1966, although co-signed by Hamlin. The last daily signed by Hamlin appeared December 31, 1972, and his last signed Sunday was April 1, 1973. From his North Carolina studio, Graue wrote and drew the strip through the 1970s and 1980s until Jack Bender took over as illustrator in 1991. Graue continued to write the strip until his August, 2001 retirement. Four months later, on December 10, 2001, the 75-year-old Graue was killed in Flat Rock, North Carolina
Flat Rock, North Carolina
Flat Rock is the name of some places in the U.S. state of North Carolina:*Flat Rock, Henderson County, North Carolina *Flat Rock, Stokes County, North Carolina...

 when a dump truck hit his car. The current Alley Oop Sunday and daily strips are drawn by Jack Bender and written by his wife Carole Bender.

At its peak, Alley Oop was carried by 800 newspapers. Today, it appears in more than 600 newspapers. The strip and albums were popular in Mexico (under the name Trucutú) and in Brazil
Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...

 (Brucutu). In 1995, Alley Oop was one of 20 strips showcased in the Comic Strip Classics
Comic Strip Classics
The Comic Strip Classics series of commemorative postage stamps was issued by the US Postal Service in 1995 to honor the centennial of the newspaper comic strip....

 series of commemorative US postage stamps.

Licensing and promotion

During the 1970s, Alley Oop was adapted to animation
Animation is the rapid display of a sequence of images of 2-D or 3-D artwork or model positions in order to create an illusion of movement. The effect is an optical illusion of motion due to the phenomenon of persistence of vision, and can be created and demonstrated in several ways...

 as a segment of Filmation
Filmation Associates was an American production company that produced animation and live action programming for television during the latter half of the 20th century. Located in Reseda, California, the animation studio was founded in 1963...

's Saturday morning cartoon series Fabulous Funnies
Fabulous Funnies
Fabulous Funnies was a Filmation cartoon series on NBC that ran for one season in 1978; it featured animated versions of newspaper comic strips and attempted to teach moral lessons to children.-Overview:...

, appearing intermittently alongside other comic strip favorites: The Captain and the Kids, Broom-Hilda
Broom-Hilda is an American newspaper comic strip created by cartoonist Russell Myers. Distributed by the Tribune Media Services, it depicts the misadventures of a man-crazy, cigar-smoking, beer-guzzling, 1,500-year-old witch and her motley crew of friends....

, Moon Mullins
Moon Mullins
Moon Mullins, created by cartoonist Frank Willard , was a popular American comic strip which had a long run as both a daily and Sunday feature from June 19, 1923 to June 2, 1991. Syndicated by the Chicago Tribune/New York News Syndicate, the strip depicts the lives of diverse lowbrow characters who...

, Smokey Stover
Smokey Stover
Smokey Stover is an American comic strip written and drawn by cartoonist Bill Holman, from 1935 until he retired in 1973. Distributed through the Chicago Tribune, it features the wacky misadventures of the titular fireman, and had the longest run of any comic strip in the "screwball comics"...

 and Nancy.

In 2008, "to celebrate Alley Oop's 75th year," the Benders conducted a contest for "Dinosaur Drawings from Our Young Readers"; the entry Tyrannosaurus Rex holding a banner wishing "Happy Birthday" to Alley Oop, by 12-year-old Erin Holloway of Hammond, Louisiana
Hammond, Louisiana
Hammond is the largest city in Tangipahoa Parish, Louisiana, United States. The population was 20,049 at the 2009 census. It is home to Southeastern Louisiana University...

, was published in the comic strip on 2009 January 17.

In 2002, Dark Horse Comics
Dark Horse Comics
Dark Horse Comics is the largest independent American comic book and manga publisher.Dark Horse Comics was founded in 1986 by Mike Richardson in Milwaukie, Oregon, with the concept of establishing an ideal atmosphere for creative professionals. Richardson started out by opening his first comic book...

 produced a limited edition figure of the character in a brightly-illustrated tin container. Alley Oop was issued as statue #28—part of their line of Classic Comic Characters collectibles.

In popular culture

The long-running success of the strip made the character a pop culture icon referenced in fiction, pop music, dance and sports:
  • An educated Neanderthal known as "Alley Oop" is a character in Clifford D. Simak
    Clifford D. Simak
    Clifford Donald Simak was an American science fiction writer. He was honored by fans with three Hugo awards and by colleagues with one Nebula award and was named the third Grand Master by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America in 1977.-Biography:Clifford Donald Simak was born in...

    's science fiction novel The Goblin Reservation
    The Goblin Reservation
    The Goblin Reservation is a 1968 science fiction novel by Clifford D. Simak, featuring an educated Neanderthal, a biomechanical sabertooth tiger, aliens that move about on wheels, a man who timetravels using an unreliable device inplanted in his brain, a ghost, trolls, banshees, goblins and even...


  • "O. Paley" (a quasi-anagram
    An anagram is a type of word play, the result of rearranging the letters of a word or phrase to produce a new word or phrase, using all the original letters exactly once; e.g., orchestra = carthorse, A decimal point = I'm a dot in place, Tom Marvolo Riddle = I am Lord Voldemort. Someone who...

     of "Alley Oop") was the central figure in Philip José Farmer
    Philip José Farmer
    Philip José Farmer was an American author, principally known for his award-winning science fiction and fantasy novels and short stories....

    's The Alley Man
    The Alley Man
    The Alley Man by Philip José Farmer was the cover story for the June, 1959, issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. The central figure, a thinly disguised Alley Oop, is the last Neanderthal who has survived into the 20th Century....

    , a 1959 novella about the last Neanderthal who has survived into the 20th century.

  • The character was the subject of the 1960 #1 single "Alley Oop
    Alley Oop (song)
    "Alley Oop" is a song written by Dallas Frazier. The song, heavily inspired by the V. T. Hamlin-created comic strip of the same name, was first recorded by Frazier as a country tune in 1957.-The Hollywood Argyles:...

    ," which was the only hit for short-lived studio band The Hollywood Argyles
    The Hollywood Argyles
    The Hollywood Argyles were an American musical ensemble, assembled for studio recordings by the producer and songwriter Kim Fowley and his friend and fellow musician Gary Paxton...

    . It was written in 1957 by Dallas Frazier
    Dallas Frazier
    Dallas Frazier is an American country musician and songwriter who had success in the 1950s and 60s.-Biography:Frazier was born in Spiro, Oklahoma but was raised in Bakersfield, California...

    , and musicians on the record included Kim Fowley
    Kim Fowley
    Kim Vincent Fowley is an American record producer, impresario, songwriter, musician, film maker, and radio actor. He is best known for his role behind a string of novelty and cult rock pop singles in the 1960s, and for managing The Runaways in the 1970s...

     and Sandy Nelson
    Sandy Nelson
    Sandy Nelson is an American drummer. Nelson, one of the best-known rock drummers of the early 1960s, had several solo instrumental Top 40 hits and was a session drummer on many other well-known hits, and released over 30 albums.-Career:His first recording, with a band called The Renegades Sandy...

    . Lead vocalist Norm Davis, who was paid a one-time flat fee of $25, is currently a poet and poetry teacher in Rochester, New York
    Rochester, New York
    Rochester is a city in Monroe County, New York, south of Lake Ontario in the United States. Known as The World's Image Centre, it was also once known as The Flour City, and more recently as The Flower City...

    . The song was later covered by Dante & the Evergreens
    Dante & the Evergreens
    Dante & the Evergreens was an American pop group formed at Santa Monica College in California in 1959.Dante & the Evergreens came to the attention of Dean Torrence , who took them to his managers, Herb Alpert and Lou Adler. The group's music was arranged by Tony Moon, who also played guitar on...

     and George Thorogood & the Destroyers, and was included in choreographer Twyla Tharp
    Twyla Tharp
    Twyla Tharp is an American dancer and choreographer, who lives and works in New York City.-Early years:Tharp was born in 1941 on a farm in Portland, Indiana, and was named after Twila Thornburg, the "Pig Princess" of the 89th Annual Muncie Fair in Indiana.she spend hours working on it to help her...

    's 1970s ballet Deuce Coupe.

Collections and reprints

Many Alley Oop daily strips and a few Sundays have been reprinted by Dragon Lady Press
Dragon Lady Press
Toronto-based Dragon Lady Press was the publishing wing of the Dragon Lady Comics store. Its publications were distributed through the direct market throughout the United States and Canada. This company was known for its reprints of classic newspaper comic strips in various forms...

, Comics Revue
Comics Revue
Comics Revue is a bi-monthly small press comic book published by Manuscript Press and edited by Rick Norwood. Don Markstein edited the publication from 1984 to 1987 and 1992 to 1996....

, Kitchen Sink Press
Kitchen Sink Press
Kitchen Sink Press was a comic book publishing company founded by Denis Kitchen in 1970. Kitchen owned and operated Kitchen Sink Press until 1999. Kitchen Sink Press was a pioneering publisher of underground comics, and was also responsible for numerous republications of classic comic strips in...

, Manuscript Press
Manuscript Press
Manuscript Press is a small press publisher started by Rick Norwood in 1976 and currently located in Mountain Home, Tennessee. It specializes in previously unpublished novels by science fiction authors such as Hal Clement and R. A. Lafferty and also in reprints of comic strips such as Prince...

 and SPEC Books. The following titles are all by V. T. Hamlin unless otherwise noted:
  • Alley Oop and Dinny A Big Little Book #763 (1935) Whitman Publishing
  • Alley Oop in The Invasion of Moo (1935) (Cocomalt Premium) Whitman
  • Alley Oop and Dinny in the Jungles of Moo A Big Little Book #1473 (1938) Whitman
  • Alley Oop and the Missing King of Moo A Penny Book (1938) Whitman
  • Alley Oop and the Cave Men of Moo (Pan-Am Premium) (1938) Whitman
  • Alley Oop and the Kingdom of Foo (Pan-Am Premium) (1938) Whitman
  • Alley Oop: Taming a Dinosaur (Pan-Am Premium) (1938) Whitman
  • Alley Oop sheet music
    Sheet music
    Sheet music is a hand-written or printed form of music notation that uses modern musical symbols; like its analogs—books, pamphlets, etc.—the medium of sheet music typically is paper , although the access to musical notation in recent years includes also presentation on computer screens...

     (1960) Kavelin-Maverick Music (USA), Leeds Music (Australia, New Zealand)
  • Alley Oop Coloring Book (1962) Treasure Books
  • Alley Oop Fun Book (1981) Happy House Books
  • Alley Oop: The Sawalla Chronicles" (1983) Ken Pierce Inc.
  • Alley Oop #1: The Legend Begins (1987) Dragon Lady Press
  • Alley Oop #2: Enter the Time Machine (1987) Dragon Lady
  • Alley Oop #3: Oop vs. Hercules (1988) Dragon Lady
  • Alley Oop Volume 1: The Adventures of a Time-Traveling Caveman (1990) Kitchen Sink
  • Alley Oop Volume 2: The Sphinx and Alley Oop (1991) Kitchen Sink
  • Alley Oop Volume 3: First Trip to the Moon (1995) Kitchen Sink
  • Alley Oop: Book 4 (2003) Manuscript Press

Further reading

  • Caveman: V.T. Hamlin & Alley Oop (2005), an award-winning documentary by Max Allan Collins
    Max Allan Collins
    Max Allan Collins is an American mystery writer. He has written novels, screenplays, comic books, comic strips, trading cards, short stories, movie novelizations and historical fiction. He wrote the graphic novel Road to Perdition , created the comic book private eye Ms...

    , narrated by Michael Cornelison and featuring interviews with Will Eisner
    Will Eisner
    William Erwin "Will" Eisner was an American comics writer, artist and entrepreneur. He is considered one of the most important contributors to the development of the medium and is known for the cartooning studio he founded; for his highly influential series The Spirit; for his use of comics as an...

     and Dave Graue, was released on DVD by VCI Home Video in 2008.

External links