Aus via Italy by James Zee
Was Diet Slurp & Hiccup created in Australia?
In August I purchased Diet Slurp & Hiccup Private Investigators (Horwitz, 1958? series) #7, mainly because I can't resist a mystery. I hadn't come across the series and didn't recognise the featured characters.
It turns out the comic has one Diet Slurp story, with the rest composed of reprints from US Quality's >Feature Comics (Perky) and Modern Comics (Will Bragg) that were a decade old even when this issue was published. But the source of the lead feature remained unidentified.
Diet Slurp & Hiccup has all the signs of a reprint. It has a slick, assured art style reminiscent of US funny animal comics of the time and, as if to provide easy proof, it used the US spelling of 'hiccough', not the more usual British/Australian spelling.
In search of the source, I asked for advice from the experts at GCD which produced some interesting suggestions and observations.
First, the names are a play on Wyatt Earp and Wild Bill Hickock (thanks Don Milne, I'd missed that!). So perhaps the feature was from one of the early 1950s MAD imitators. Nope, not that I could find.
Second, it could come from a one-shot comic that hadn't been fully documented. This might mean, despite the "No. 7" on the cover, there isn't six previous issues, which is plausible for Australian Comics of the period. Nope. As luck would have it, more issues soon turned up on eBay.
Perhaps it was unused inventory from Quality or another company. Or perhaps it had been renamed for Australia. Or perhaps it was an artist such as Jack Bradbury or the studio Jason Comic Art.
None of the suggestions seemed to fit and I put the comic aside. An unsolved mystery.
But recently I was investigating the similarly poorly documented Australian comic Sergeant Bottleneck. You won't find it listed in the usual reference books of Australian-drawn comics, but basically that's what it seems to be.11In "Conversazione con Carlo Chendi: da Pepito alla Disney e oltre: cinquant'anni di fumetto vissuti da protagonista" (Tunué: 2006), Carlo... Sergeant Bottleneck was created in Australia by Italian artist Guido Scala (1936-2001), most known for his work on Disney in Italy. He is reported to have emigrated to Australia in about 1955 before returning to Italy in 1959.22See www.lambiek.net (retrieved 13 December 2014). Scala was born 14 February 1936 in Turin and died 6 January 2001....
And it looks to me Guido Scala also did Diet Slurp & Hiccup for Horwitz during that period.