DeedlesCon 2007

It’s once again time to grab your frying pan hats and potted mint plants; DeedlesCon is back in town!

Celebrating its twentieth year of operation, DeedlesCon is a chance for memorabilia collectors and fans alike to come together and share their love of locally created comic strip icon Junior Deedles.

Probably best known for being the one comic strip which New York Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia refused to read over the radio during a 1945 newspaper strike (“I, er, won’t read this one” explained the mayor, without further comment, before moving on to Li’l Abner), Junior Deedles was actually a wildly popular strip during most of its forty-seven continuous years of publication.

Created by local cartoonist Fred P Skates, Junior Deedles made his debut as the so-called “Canny Oaf” in Skates’ then-titled Humorous Junction comic strip. Within three years, by 1927, Junior Deedles had acquired his name, “adopted” the first of his Magical Mint Plants “Julia,” and had proven so popular that the Humorous Junction strip was renamed in his honor.

Skates perished in 1959 from complications related to a case of Queensland Fever contracted when he was a child, but Junior Deedles lived on via a long series of replacement artists, a multitude of merchandise and a series of surprisingly vulgar black-and-white animated shorts released during the 1940s.

Although the strip ceased publication more than thirty-five years ago, it continues to delight its former audience and develop new fans along the way. Mitch Prince, organizer of the DeedlesCon since its inception in 1987, claims that new fans are drawn in by the timelessness of the stories and the characters.

“When you talk about the great characters of literature, you have to put Junior Deedles right up there with Hercules, Jesus and Shakespeare,” says Prince, “Not to mention his supporting cast, Deedles’ girlfriend Hotcha, his father Poppa Deedles, the evil shoe salesman The Rattlesnake or even the Hopping Hootenanny.

“These are classics,” added Prince, “They represent the work or one of the great masters of a unique American art form.”

After a moment’s consideration, Prince added “Or as Deedles used to say, “Cushy Coo Coo Coo!”

DeedlesCon 2007 will be held in the Hussar Room at the Lawbell Alley Hilton, east of Exit 551.

Notable Facts About Junior Deedles:

  • At the peak of its popularity, Junior Deedles was carried in over seven-hundred newspapers. At its nadir of its popularity, it was carried in only one.
  • Fred Skates and Peanuts creator Charles Schulz shared a profound hatred for one another, both personally and professionally. On the occasion of Skates’ death, Schulz sent an infamous telegram to Skates’ widow reading “My apologies as I cannot attend funeral stop may reconsider if I can find my dance shoes stop”
  • Names of all the Magical Mint Plants “adopted” by Junior Deedles: Julia, Hortence, Agatha, Alice, Pearl, Posey and Roy.
  • Most valuable piece of Deedles memorabilia, according to the 2005 Comic Strip Character Collectible Price Guide (Collector Books): The Junior Deedles Mint-Scented-Spray Gun (1945) – $125,500
  • Least valuable piece of Deedles memorabilia: Junior Deedles Christmas Candy Cigarettes (1992) – No Value Listed
  • Whatever happened to the statue of Junior Deedles which occupied a place of honor on Wonderland Walk at Mabel Tripp Gardens, until 1983? No one knows.

- J. Morris

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