Here’s an incredible “what might have been” item from American newspaper strip history.
This is the original art by the brilliant artist Bob Lubbers, for a tryout Sunday comic strip, “Kemi of Ancient Egypt”, recently offered by Heritage Auctions.
Designed specifically to look like other strips on the market of the time such as “Prince Valiant”, “Jungle Jim”, and “Tarzan”, Lubbers, whose influences included Hal Foster and Alex Raymond, created it as a sample piece and submitted to Ward Greene at King Features Syndicate.
Did it work? Well, Green offered Lubbers a strip just a week later – but he was too late.
Lubbers had already accepted the job of doing “Tarzan” for United Feature Syndicate by then, a strip he would draw from July 1950 until August 1954, succeeding Nick Cardy on the daily strip, and Burne Hogarth on the Sunday page.
Lubbers and writer Dick Van Buren managed to fill their stories with a lot of action, jungle animals, colourful backgrounds and exotic girls.
“Tarzan” was continued by Lubbers’ studio mate John Celardo in 1954, and Lubbers moved on to work with Al Capp. on the hillbilly strip “Long Sam” (1954-1962). Later, he would work on “Secret Agent X-9” (1960-1967), “Li’l Abner” (1958-1977) and his own creation, the racy “Robin Malone” (1967-1970).
Enjoying a long and varied career in comics and other creative fields, Lubber died in 2017, aged 95, but he never returned to “Kemi of Ancient Egypt”, so we’re left to wonder just what incredible adventures we might have seen.
The art itself sold for $2880 on Heritage Auctions back in October.
With thanks to Ernesto Guevara