Monday, July 9, 2007

For your reading pleasure - CONCHY by James Childress

In this installment of FYRP, I thought I showcase this underrated gem.



Conchy was a comic strip drawn by James Childress (1941-1977) and ran in newspapers from 1970 until Childress's death. The strip was self-syndicated (originally under the business name Corinthian Features) except during 1974-1976, when Field Enterprises took over the syndication duty for a while. Many sources also list Publishers-Hall Syndicate as the syndicate, but I have yet to find samples with the syndicate listed in the copyright label.


The strip's titular character was an everyman beachcomber who lived in an island inhabitated by other beachcombers (including Oom Paul, Bug, and the twins Patch and Duff). The native village on the other side also served as minor characters. While the beachcombers co-existed with the islanders peacefully, they were constantly warring with the pygmies on the other side.



James Childress initially created Conchy in the early '60s and submitted it to syndicates. After several rejects, he eventually decided to syndicate it himself. Through this, the strip began in March 2, 1970.



Within few years, the strip picked up a couple dozen newspapers, and it was enough to convince Field Enterprise to take over the syndication duty, starting April 29, 1974. This relationship, however, was short-lived, due to creative differences. Thus, Childress went back to self-syndicating in 1976.



Sadly, Childress was having financial and family difficulties, including a custody battle for the kids between him and his ex-wife. On January 1977, Childress committed suicide. And that was the end of the strip.


For a more in-depth look on Conchy, here's an essay written by Childress's friend.

2 comments:

Terry L. Johnson said...

Wow. Impressive musings from the mid-70s.

I am reminded that Emile Dickinson never saw any of her poems published.

Mr. Childress was on to something. A keen insight into those muddy days - I love the subtle references to Green Acres and Watergate.

Hard to believe this guy got such limited distibution.

Really sorry to learn that such a mind was wasted by taking his own life.

Anonymous said...

If you knew his wife you'd know why he did...