Popular Culture

Alley Oop's popularity is demonstrated in the numerous reprints, products, and imitations that have been created over the years. It was parodied many times in that great mocker of twentieth-century popular culture, Mad magazine. Jasper Johns' Alley Oop is a painting composed on top of a clipping of the Alley Oop Sunday strip from June 22, 1958. Alley has been an animated television show, a game, a figurine, and a Pez dispenser.

Alley Oop Figurine
Alley Oop Figurine.
Milwaukie, OR: Dark Horse, 2002.
Alley Oop ©NEA, Inc.

Alley Oop the Figurine

Dark Horse, a well-known comics publisher, issued a set of "Classic Comic Characters" figurines. Alley Oop was number 28 in this series, featured with other greats, such as Pogo Possum, L'il Orphan Annie, Blondie, The Schmoo, and Popeye.

Photograph of Hamlin with the Grants Pass Caveman Society
Grants Pass Caveman Society Photograph, 1936.
Grants Pass Caveman Society Ribbon
Grants Pass Caveman Society Ribbon.

The Cavemen

In the summer of 1936, Dorothy and V.T. travelled to the Northwest, settling in the town of Wilderville, a small village of log cabins nine miles south of Grants Pass, Oregon. Here V.T. was given honorary membership in the Grants Pass Caveman Society, a civic society formed in 1922 to promote travel to the Oregon Caves National Monument. The Cavemen, a group of local businessmen dressed in animal skins and wielding clubs, would regularly "kidnap" dignitaries and celebrities travelling through the town. Hamlin's strip had already gained enough popularity for him to be considered as such. He drew some of the Cavemen into the strip in a storyline about the Ice Age.

Film Cel of Alley Oop from Fabulous Funnies animated series
Fabulous Funnies Film Cel.
Cover of Fabulous Funnies beta cassette box
Fabulous Funnies Beta Cassette.
©1978, The Fabulous Funnies, Filmation Associates.

Alley Oop the Television Show

In 1978, Alley Oop was briefly animated for television. Fabulous Funnies was a short-lived, Saturday morning cartoon show featuring popular comic strip characters Broom Hilda, Nancy and Sluggo, the Captain and the Kids (aka The Katzenjammer Kids), and of course Alley Oop and his friends. Oop's friend Foozy acted as the host of the show, introducing each seven-minute segment. Critics blame the show's failure on its mission to promote good manners, each segment serving as a mini-lesson on some social ill, such as smoking or drinking. It only lasted 13 episodes, but one of the staff writers, Sam Simon, lasted a bit longer, later becoming a producer for The Simpsons.

Alley Oop 7-inch single by the Hollywood Argyles
Hollywood Argyles.
"Alley Oop." 45"
1960.
Side A

Alley Oop the Song

Written by Dallas Frazier and produced by Gary S. Paxton, "Alley Oop" was a #1 hit single in 1960. The Hollywood Argyles was basically Paxton, who hired some session musicians to record a song he had heard a gas station attendant sing. Paxton went on to produce numerous other recordings, the most well-known being "Monster Mash," another big novelty hit of the 1960s. "Alley Oop" has been recorded by many other artists since, including Dante & the Evergreens, The Dyna-Sores, Friar Tuck and His Psychedelic Guitar, and The Beach Boys.

Hamlin was paid royalties from the song, and was able to buy a new red sports car with the money, and Alley Oop bought one himself in the strip not long after.

Cover of Alley Oop Tijuana Bible
Alley Oop Tijuana Bible.
1930s.

Tijuana Bibles

The residents of Moo inspired a number of "Tijuana Bibles," erotic, underground, comic-strip parodies of popular figures. They are also known as "eight-pagers" because of their standard format of eight pages. Movie stars, politicians, folk heroes, and comic strip characters were all fodder for these illegal publications. The precise origin of the term "Tijuana Bible" is unknown, though some speculate it refers to Tijuana as a general source for illicit goods, though it is unlikely these publications actually came from Mexico.

According to one story, Al Capp, in the early days of his strip L'il Abner, was relieved when a Tijuana Bible version of his strip surfaced. Since his characters were popular enough to inspire an eight-pager, he knew he had finally made it as a comic strip artist.

Program for Alley Oop: The Musical
Hip Pocket Theatre.
Alley Oop: The Musical.
Fort Worth, TX: Hip Pocket Theatre, 2005.

Alley Oop the Musical

This musical adaptation of the strip from 2005 was staged by a small production company in Fort Worth. The production featured all of the regular characters, even Dinny and a Tyrannosaurus, both life-sized dinosaur puppets created by master puppeteer Basil Twist. The musical director, Michael H. Price, is also responsible for a musical about comic artist R. Crumb, entitled R. Crumb - The Musical!

Alee-Oop game
Alee-Oop.
Worcester, MA: Roy-Toy Company.
The Game of Alley Oop
The Game of Alley Oop.
Worcester, MA: Royal Toy Company, Inc., c1937
©1937, Stephen Slesinger, Inc.

Alley Oop the Game

In the mid 1930s, two nearly identical games were manufactured by the Royal Toy Company, Alee-Oop and The Game of Alley Oop. Alee-Oop was created first, but sales were much better once the game was officially tied with the strip and featured Alley, Foozy, and Dinny on the packaging. The concept is similar to the game tiddlywinks, with the players trying to flip game pieces into a container.

Movie-Jecktor Projector and Alley Oop film
Movie-Jecktor Projector and Alley Oop film.
1930s.

The Movie-Jecktor

The Movie-Jecktor Company of New York manufactured home movie projectors, as well and grammophone/projector combinations in the mid-1930s. They also created short films to be played in these projectors, with images printed on parchment paper, starring popular comic strips and animated characters, such as Mickey Mouse and Buck Rogers. This particular model worked with a lightbulb and a handcrank. The Movie-Jecktor Co. produced just one film starring Alley and Ooola.

Cover of French translation of Alley Oop
Alley Oop.
Paris: Dupuis, [1966].
© 1966, United Press and Ed. Dupuis, Sprl.
Cover of Italian translation of Alley Oop
Alley Oop.
Milano: Sugar Editore, c1973.
©1973, NEA.
Cover of French translation of Alley Oop
Alley Oop: l'homme des cavernes qui a invente le rire!
Paris: Dupuis, [196-?].
© United Press and Ed. Dupuis, Sprl.
Cover of Super Yank comics, with Alley Oop
Super Yank comics.
Sydney, Australia : Ayers and James, [194?].
Alley Oop Sunday strip from El Salvadoran newspaper 'Las Prensa Grafica,' 11/27/1966
Tru-cutú Sunday strip from November 27, 1966.
©1966, NEA Inc.

International Editions

At its height, Alley Oop was carried by 800 daily newspapers. It was popular around the world, in both comic strip and book formats. These volumes, from France, Italy, and Australia, are just a few of the reprint volumes that have been printed outside the United States. "Alley Oop" is translated as "Tru-cutú" in this newspaper clipping from the El Salvador newspaper Las Prensa Grafica.

Alley Oop Stamp
Alley Oop stamp from USPS stamp series "Comic Strip Classics."
©1995, United States Postal Service.

U.S. Postage Stamp

In 1995, the U.S. Postal Service issued a set of commemorative stamps memorializing classic American comic strips to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the comic strip. Alley Oop was included in this group of twenty great strips, along with Krazy Kat, Katzenjammer Kids, The Yellow Kid, Prince Valiant, and Dick Tracy, among others.

Cover of Kitchen Sink Alley Oop, v.1
Alley Oop, v. 1.
Princeton, WI: Kitchen Sink Press, 1990.
©1990, Kitchen Sink Press, Inc.

Kitchen Sink Press reprints

The strip has been reprinted many times, but perhaps never as beautifully as in these volumes published by the Kitchen Sink Press. The Press was the brainchild of underground cartoonist Dennis Kitchen, and was in business from 1969-1999. It was responsible for printing many important underground comic artists, as well as producing reprints of classic strips such as Krazy Kat, The Spirit, and L'il Abner.

Photograph of Hamlin cutting ribbon at opening of Alley Oop Fantasy Land
Photograph of Hamlin at Alley Oop Fantasy Land dedication, 1965.
Flyer for Fantasy Land dedication events
Flyer for Fantasy Land dedication events, 1965.

Alley Oop Land

Iraan, Texas, is the supposed birthplace of Alley Oop, where Hamlin first came up with the idea for a strip about dinosaurs while working for the oil companies. In 1965, the city constructed Alley Oop Fantasy Land, and dedicated it on May 10th to commemorate Hamlin's 65th birthday. One of the features of the park is a 65 foot-long statue of Dinny.

Reproduction of daily strips celebrating the 75th anniversary of Alley Oop
75th Anniversary strips, August 7th and 8th, 2008.
©2008, NEA Inc.

75th Anniversary

On August 8, 2008, Alley Oop had its 75th anniversary. To celebrate, Alley's friends from over the years threw him a surprise birthday party. These two strips from August 7th and 8th, drawn by Jack and Carole Bender, bring together many of the figures that appeared in the strip over the years.

Introduction

V.T. Hamlin

Alley Oop and Popular Culture

World War II

Before Alley Oop

After Alley Oop

Resources

About

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