“Rodolpho Swears His Vengeance”

Posted by on August 13th, 2010 at 9:12 AM

A second strip from Jules Feiffer’s early series Clifford. They ran on the back page of the Spirit section during Feiffer’s apprenticeship to Will Eisner. This one is from Feb. 5, 1950.

Notice the pipe used by Clifford’s dad. The strip is about city kids, but these quaintsy-goysy touches were tough to keep out of family-life sitcoms back then.

The Metropolitan Opera broadcasts are still going on, but I bet they don’t have the audience they used to. In mid-century New York the broadcasts meant culture, and they were much loved by families that couldn’t afford opera tickets more often than once a year.

The announcer the kids are listening to is Milton Cross, a man with a voice so deep and grandiloquent it didn’t sound human. An aged and expensive leather arm chair in a gentlemen’s club might have sounded the way he did, once all the necessary steps for furniture vocalization had been taken.

The parody synopsis isn’t bad. It’s been a while since I listened to a broadcast, but I think that, as usual, Feiffer catches the right diction: “enjoying the contented life of a peasant,” “It is then that Margueritte,” “swears his vengeance,” and, of course, “the first act curtain falls.”

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