Sad Sack

Sad Sack

The Sad Sack is an American fictional comic strip and comic book character created by Sgt. George Baker during World War II. Set in the United States Army, Sad Sack depicted an otherwise unnamed, lowly private experiencing some of the absurdities and humiliations of military life.

The term has come to signify a meek, inept, unmilitary serviceman who means well but blunders his way, consistently in trouble, resignedly finding the odds always against him in military life. More broadly, it is applied to a hopelessly clumsy, incompetent or inept person, or a ludicrous misfit, also called an "eight ball".

Comic strip

The Sad Sack originated as a comic strip, drawn in pantomime, which debuted in June 1942 in the first issue of Yank, the Army Weekly. It proved popular, and a hardcover collection of Baker's wartime Sad Sack strips was published by Simon & Schuster, Inc. in 1944, with a follow-up volume, The New Sad Sack, in 1946. The original book was concurrently published as an Armed Services edition mass market paperback, in that edition's standard squarebound, horizontal, 5 5/8 x 4-inch format, by Editions for the Armed Services, Inc., a non-profit organization of The Council on Books in Wartime; it was #719 in the series of Armed Service editions.

After the war ended, The Sad Sack ran in newspaper syndication until 1960.

Comic book

Harvey Comics published original Sad Sack stories in the Sad Sack Comics comic book series, which ran 287 issues cover-dated September 1949 to October 1982. Harvey also published the one-shot comic The Sad Sack Comes Home in 1951.

Spin-off series were:

  • Sad Sack's Funny Friends #1-75 (Dec. 1955 - Oct. 1969)
  • Sad Sack and the Sarge #1-155 (Sept. 1957 - June 1982)
  • Sad Sack Laugh Special #1-93 (Winter 1958/59 - Feb. 1977)
  • Sad Sack's Army Life Parade #1-57 (Oct. 1963 - circa 1975)
  • Little Sad Sack #1-19 (Oct. 1964 - Nov. 1967), featuring a child version of the character
  • Sad Sad Sack World (Oct. 1964 - Dec. 1973)
  • Sad Sack Navy, Gobs 'n' Gals #1-8 (Aug. 1972 - Oct. 1973
  • Sad Sack USA #1-7 (Nov. 1972 - Nov. 1973)
  • Sad Sack USA Vacation one-shot (Oct. 1974)
  • Sad Sack Fun Around the House one-shot (1974)
  • Sad Sack's Army Life Today #1-4 (circa mid-195 to Nov. 1975, and May 1976)

Supporting characters included "The Sarge" (Sack's platoon sergeant, the potbellied and tough but reasonable Sergeant Circle); "Slob Slobinski" (Sack's buddy); "The General" (General Rockjaw, always drawn with dark glasses, cigarette holder and Ascot tie) "Sadie Sack" (Sad's redheaded female cousin, in the WACs), "Ol' Sod Sack," Sad's hillbilly uncle, and "Muttsy" the dog. The spin-off Sad Sack Navy, Gobs 'n' Gals had the supporting character "Gabby Gob".

The Harvey Comics and newspaper strip were aimed at younger readers than Baker's wartime originals, and the style of the strip changed dramatically. In the newspaper strip, the pantomime style was abandoned in favor of a more conventional comic-story format.

In the mid-1950s, Harvey Comics and Baker brought in Paul McCarthy to draw the Sad Sack titles, followed by Fred Rhoads, Jack O'Brien and Joe Dennett. Others who periodically drew for the titles include Warren Kremer and Ken Selig. Baker retained editorial control and continued to illustrate the covers of Sad Sack comics until his death in 1975.

Radio and Film

Sponsored by Old Gold Cigarettes, The Sad Sack radio program aired in 1946 as a summer replacement series for The Frank Sinatra Show. It starred Herb Vigran in the title role with a cast of Jim Backus, Sandra Gould, Ken Cristy and Patsy Moran. Dick Joy was the announcer for the series which began June 12, 1946 with the episode "Sack Returns Home from the Army" and continued until September 4.

At Paramount Pictures Baker's comic strip was adapted by screenwriters Edmund Beloin and Nate Monaster for George Marshall's film The Sad Sack (1957), in which WAC Major Shelton (Phyllis Kirk) has the assignment to turn bumbling Private Meredith C. Bixby (Jerry Lewis) into a good soldier. The supporting cast includes David Wayne, Peter Lorre and Joe Mantell.



External links

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