Thursday, September 1, 2011

Kindergarden* (for Kindergarten*)

Mell Lazarus is the creator of the comic strip Miss Peach, a chronicle of the fictional fount of learning known as the Kelly School, named after "Pogo" cartoonist Walt Kelly. It debuted in the New York Herald Tribune in 1957 and continued to run for 45 years; it was syndicated in 300 newspapers worldwide. It featured the eponymously peachy Miss Peach and her fellow teacher, the unretiring octogenarian, Miss Crystal; the school principal, Mr. Grimmis; and the gym teacher, Mr. Musselman. But the real show-offs of the show were the kindergarten kids themselves: the irrepressible Freddy, Marcia, Ira, Arthur, Francine, and Lester, plus a few other tots who would pop in from time to time. Publisher Al Capp wrote the introduction to Miss Peach, where his doting admiration of Lazarus is made clear: "... although I was, for that moment, the boss, I hadn't discovered the priceless secret of our art that he had—that if you were a humorist with more understanding than most other humorists, you could fill emptiness with delight and silence with wit. This is Mel's genius..." We discovered 20 cases of today's typo in OhioLINK and 413 in WorldCat. Watch out for this one, though: while kindergarden is generally considered to be a misspelling of kindergarten, it might well appear that way on the piece itself, being the German word for "children's garden."

(Cover of my own copy of Miss Peach, 1958. Click pic for a closer peek.)

Carol Reid

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