Comics That Never Were: Bob Lubbers “Kemi of Ancient Egypt”

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.

“Kemi of Ancient Egypt” by Bob Lubbers

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.

More about Bob Lubbers comics career on Lambiek

The Life (and Death?) of Robin: Bob Lubbers’ “Robin Malone” by Tom Heintjes

With thanks to Ernesto Guevara

The founder of downthetubes, which he established in 1998. John works as a comics and magazine editor, writer, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. Working in British comics publishing since the 1980s, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Star Trek Explorer (previously known as Star Trek Magazine) and more. He also edited the comics anthology STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics. He has also edited several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War and “Dan Dare”. He’s the writer of "Pilgrim: Secrets and Lies" for B7 Comics; “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood.

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