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 Texas : Features : Columns : "Charley Eckhardt's Texas"

Victor T. Hamlin & Alley Oop

by C. F. Eckhardt
Victor Hamlin was not a newspaper man at the time he created Alley Oop. He was a cartographer for an oil company, making site maps. He was also a cartoonist who had a mildly-successful science-fiction strip featuring the 'mad scientist' Dr. Wonmug and his sidekick Oscar Boom. Dr. Wonmug invented a time machine and would send Oscar back in time to have adventures in various places. He sent Oscar back to the time of the dinosaurs and Oscar returned with Oop. The Dr. said "That's impossible. There were no cave men in the time of the dinosaurs.

Oscar replied "Behold the impossible." The strip was shortly renamed Alley Oop and Dr. Wonmug and Oscar Boom became minor characters.
Dick Tracy Chester Gould Mural Pawnee Oklahoma

Dick Tracy and sidekick inconspicuously stake-out a window Cartoonist Chester Gould remembered on a Pawnee, Oklahoma mural. TE Photo

According to Hamlin himself, he came up with the idea for Alley Oop from the truckloads of dinosaur bones the steam shovels and scrapers were digging up in preparing sites for wells and pumps. He later added Alley's pet dinosaur Dinny, his girlfriend Oola, Alley's homeland of Moo, its rulers King Guz and Queen Umpa, the Grand Wizer, and Moo's deadly enemy Lem. The names of the lands were taken from the mythical 'lost continents' of Mu and Lemuria.

The strip ran both daily and Sunday. The daily strip, published in the Austin American--the morning paper, which my folks didn't take--had Dr. Wonmug and Oscar featured fairly prominently. Alley and occasionally Oola joined Oscar in time machine adventures. The Sunday strip, which ran in the American-Statesman, the combined Sunday paper, usually was a single-gag strip or, if continued, continued for only a couple or three weeks. It was usually set in Moo, and if Dr. Wonmug and Oscar appeared at all they were very minor characters.

As you might have guessed, Alley Oop was one of my favorite comic strips when I was a kid. Incidentally, Alley was still running in syndication in the Brownwood newspaper just a few years ago.
C. F. Eckhardt
"Charley Eckhardt's Texas" >

October 24, 2006 column

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