Wednesday, July 20, 2011


now and then
there is a person born
who is so unlucky
that he runs into accidents
which started out to happen
to somebody else.

xli. archy says

Don Marquis (1878 - 1937)

To get an overview of Don Marquis, humorist, journalist, author and creator of Archy and Mehitabel,  please use this LINK.

To learn about Archy and Mehitabel, please go here.

An interesting blog post about Don Marquis and George Herriman. Herriman was the illustrator (creator of Krazy Kat) who gave Archy and Mehitabel their look. More about Herriman here

Artwork by George Herriman


  1. Hello Yvette:
    You have a great capacity for unearthing the unusual and the intriguing and for sending us down yet another literary road.

  2. Thanks, Jane and Lance. I hope you'll find this to be a pleasant trip of discovery. :)

    Marquis and Herriman did wonderful work.

  3. This would've been a great FFB. I have about a zillion different copies of the archy & mehitabel books. Surprised? ;^D If it's odd and unusual I usually have it in one form or another. These used to be real popular sellers on eBay once upon a time when it was fun to sell there. Also, the Barnaby cartoon books by Crockett Johnson were big cult items.

  4. Barnaby I'm not familiar with at all, John. But I checked your link and they look like fun. I like Dorothy Parker's endorsement. :)

    I thought everyone knew about Archy and Mehitabel. At least in this country.

    I didn't realize they'd been forgotten. :)

    See, if you live long enough, all this stuff churns around in your memory. Ha!

  5. Yvette, I had loved Archy & Mehitabel when I first discovered Don Marquis' writings in my school library in my teens. I'm delighted to see you bringing them back for future generations to enjoy!

  6. Dorian: If I had any influence, Archy and Mehitabel would be in every home. HA!

  7. Sorry to be so late with this. I remember reading a comment by some other writer (Thurber?) about what a sad life Marquis had. The Wikipedia article has some of this but here is some more material from

    By all accounts Marquis enjoyed his time at the Herald Tribune, but by 1925 he was exhausted. The daily demands of the column took a toll, and he never recovered from a string of tragedies: His only son died in 1921, at age 5, and his wife Reina died unexpectedly in 1923. (He remarried in 1926, to the actress Marjorie Potts Vonnegut, but the tragedies continued: His only daughter died in 1931, at age 13, and his second wife died in 1936.)

    (In a further ironic twist, Marquis made a fortune on the bibulous Old Soak -- more than $100,000, by some estimates -- and then lost it all a few years later when he financed his own drama portraying the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Marquis, a notorious skeptic, was praised for his sensitive treatment, but critics panned the play's direction by Marjorie Marquis -- it premiered while the author was hospitalized with a serious illness.)

    His final years weren't kind. Increasingly in poor health and unable to work, Marquis suffered a series of strokes in 1935 and 1936 that made it difficult for him to walk or speak. And then, on Oct. 25, 1936, Marjorie Marquis, who worked so hard to care for her ailing husband, died in her sleep. Marquis could not bear this final assault; his health spiraled downward, and the last year of his life was pitiable. He died Dec. 29, 1937.

    The stories were turned into a musical called Shinbone Alley on Broadway in 1957 with Eddie Bracken and Eartha Kitt; it was later an animated film with Bracken and Carol Channing.

    I’ve only read the parts of Barnaby that were collected in books (and not all of those – those books are expensive!) I think it was one of the truly great comic strips, still funny sixty years later.

  8. Steve: Marquis's really was full of tragedies. He must have been very strong to have been able to withstand the loss of two children.

    Hopefully his writing brought him some comfort.

    There was always a streak of cynicism and even a bit of sadness in the Archy and Mehitabel saga. Marquis' poems had a hint of the melancholy. Look at today's quote.

    He might have been writing about himself.

  9. Yvette, FYI, there was/is a half-hour recorded version of George Kleinsinger's musical "Archy & Mehitabel" - I think it's an abridged "Shinbone Alley." It features Eddie Bracken, Carol Channing and David Wayne. If you (or a friend) have iTunes, it's available there for download (I've owned it for a long time). Great fun.

  10. Les: That sounds like a hoot. I think I have access to i-tunes. My daugther set it up. In truth, I have an i-pod but I never use it.

  11. I wonder if he knew my Uncle Charlie (cartoonist at Trubine also same time)
    Remember "out if the ink well" cartoons?
    Looked for the givaway, can't find it.

  12. Yvonne: Maybe he did. I vaguely remember those cartoons...I'm trying to recharge my memory. :)


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