RIP: Franklin “Little” Fibbs, 2004 – 2006

The following is intended as an affectionate tribute to a comic strip I liked, and not as an exercise in mass copyright enfringement, especially considering that, with the strip’s official website taken down, there is not much else out there about this imaginative story about an imaginative storyteller.

Franklin, we barely knew thee. Which is not all that surprising for a comic character with almost as little commitment to the truth as President Bush. Or one who un-aged several decades in a last-ditch effort to build an audience. Or one who took a familiar comedic premise, the “teller of tall tales”, and tried to take it in several different directions at once. But that was the most endearing thing about Franklin Fibbs: he was quite unpredictable.

One day he would tell a totally fantabulously impossible tale, with profuse visual punning…
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the next day telling a ‘normal’ story that takes a bizarre turn…
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Many of his tales showed him somewhat less than heroic…
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He was capable of making some rather unique cultural references…
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…as well as some very silly old jokes…
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In the earliest strips, Fibbs had a sort of ‘old geezer’ vibe…
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But his artists wisely abandoned it as they explored all the various directions the strip could go, and Franklin (and his wife Paloma) both became more ‘age-indistinct’.
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Paloma sometimes served as Franklin’s debunker, but just as often was a semi-receptive audience for his yarn-weaving.
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Still either the syndicator (King Features) or the newspapers pigeonholed Franklin Fibbs as an “old geezer” comic (and aren’t there more than enough of those?), so this spring, he underwent a somewhat bizarre ‘makeover’…
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So, “Little Fibbs” began his short but eventful run. Of course, with a talking cat as a straight ‘man’ (and without any explanation why the cat can talk, unlike Sheldon), it begins requiring a substantial suspension of disbelief, and the following strip a week later, while attemptung to “clear things up”, really didn’t.
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“Little Fibbs” had its moments; after all, Hollis Brown and Wes Hargis, the talented duo behind the first year-and-a-half were still doing the strip. Some made good use of the “Fibbs as a kid” motif…
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Others could have just as well been done with Old Franklin…
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But two weeks ago, Fibbs did a Sunday strip that was pointedly political…
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(and in the process suggested that there might have been other opinionated chapters in the Fibbs saga, but were most likely vetoed by the same syndicate that gives Mallard Fillmore free reign to spout its frequently fact-free opinions)

Then the next day, the news was broken in the strip…
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Having the reduced the ‘fourth wall’ to a pile of rubble, Little Fibbs tried to abandon the sinking strip…
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Keeping a sense of humor to the bitter end, the creators turned it upon themselves…
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(…although the reference to ‘two weeks’ occurring one week after the first announcement does suggest that there were some strips in the series that didn’t get past the syndicate’s editors…)

But especially about the ill-fated age change…
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And now, the final frames of Franklin Fibbs (hot off the Daily Ink Website)…
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Kind of underwhelming, but I’m sure they have a great story behind it.

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