Sad Sack Comics no 1 was published in September 1949. It was destined to run 287 issues, all the way to October 1982, seven years after George Baker had died. Originally the only new art was the cover cartoon, which Baker himself drew every month. Once the weekly strips ran out, a new cartoonist was needed. This was Fred Rhoads.
Harvey got Rhoads to streamline his style and produce title after new title. There came Sad Sack Goes Home (1951), Sad Sack's Funny Friends (1955), Sad Sack and Sarge (1957), Sad Sack Laugh Special (1958), Sad Sack's Army Life (1963), Sad Sad Sack World (1964), Sad Sack USA (1972), Sad Fun Around the World (1974) and even Sad Sack Navy (1972).
The new comics were hugely successful, something which Rhoads put down to his own way in which he had developed the character. "Baker was used to drawing for men in the service. His humour tended to be more dirty, more sexy, and that didn't work as well in the comic books," he said. The comic books, of course, were aimed at children, not at servicemen.
Rhoads drew Sad Sack until 1977, when suddenly Harvey stopped sending him assignments. The following year he sued Harvey for royalties on his artwork, which was then being republished every month. Rhoads had drawn a total of 9,500 pages of Sad Sack strips for an average fee of $35 each. An Arizona jury awarded Rhoads $2.5m, but Harvey appealed and won. The appeal court said that the loss was Rhoads's fault: he should have enquired about his rights long before the publisher terminated their relationship.
Bankrupted by the legal battle, Rhoads went back to work in 1985, drawing cartoons for his local newspaper, the Tucson Citizen. In 1989 he was seen at a San Diego comic convention, selling Sad Sack artwork to his fans. He was 78 when he died, never having once signed his name to a single Sad Sack strip.
Fresh, spirited American troops, flushed with victory, are bringing in thousands of hungry, ragged, battle-weary prisoners.
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