Thursday, May 7, 2009
The Abe Kabibble Mystery Solved!
So, Roscoe W. Chandler is revealed to be Abe Kabibble, a Czechoslovakian fish peddler, eh?
My post here listed the various reasons why this could not be so, and why it would only have taken a second's thought for all who have claimed it is so to see that it isn't.
(I didn't explore the question of how important it all really is in the general scheme of things, but you'll find as time goes on that you've come to the wrong place if you expect me to be diverted by appeals to reason of that kind.)
The other thing I wasn't able to do is tell you who Abe Kabibble was, only that he wasn't Roscoe W. Chandler.
Then, through the wonder of electronic communication, the answer arrived this morning.
Damian - who regular readers of the comments on this site will know lives in France where the Brothers' films are scarce and so shares with me the thirst for Marx minutiae for which I have no comparable excuse - has alerted me to the existence of Abie the Agent, a syndicated comic strip popular in the first few decades of the twentieth century, created by cartoonist Harry Hershfield. Abie was a Jewish immigrant car salesman created in response to a request from Hershfield's editor to write a strip revolving around Yiddish slang, Jewish humour and the immigrant experience in America.
And yes, folks - Abie's surname was Kabibble!
He even looks a bit like Chandler!
...........................Top: Abe Kabibble, aka Abie the Agent
...........................Bottom: Roscoe W. Chandler, aka Abie the Fish Man
Such was the character's popularity he was featured in two cinema cartoons in 1917, and was made the subject of a song (Abie! Stop Saying Maybe by Jo Swerling, author of Humor Risk).
Hardened Marx obsessives will know this is far from the only time a newspaper comic strip had a hand in the development of Marx lore. The original inspiration for their -o names was the popularity of a series of comic strips by Gus Mager in which various monkey characters were given descriptive names ending in -o, such as a detective character called Sherlocko the Monk. Among many others: Braggo the Monk, Rhymo the Monk, Tightwaddo the Monk and this oddly familiar fellow...