BABE, DARLING OF THE HILLSMedium: Comic books
Published by: Prize Comics
First Appeared: 1948
Creator: Boody Rogers
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superhero like Johnny Thunder or Bungleton Green. His second-most famous character, too, had super powers (induced by drinking "lightning juice", which was distilled from the bark of trees that had been struck by lightning) and wore regular clothes rather than a superhero suit. But Babe Boone used them to enhance her athletic ability, rather than for heroics. Babe (her last name wasn't part of her series title) was, like Ray Gotto's Ozark Ike, a baseball star with a rustic background — but in her case, her sports career took a back seat to her home town life in Possum Holler.
Possum Holler, which was a lot like Snuffy Smith's Hootin' Holler, harked back to the cartoonist's earlier work in newspaper comics. Possum Holler had been the title of a strip by Rogers syndicated in 1936. The setting was revived, and Babe placed in it, in Babe #1 (July, 1948), published by Prize Comics (Fighting American, Frankenstein). The subtitle "Darling of the Hills" was added with the 8th issue (October, 1949).
Babe was a lot like Al Capp's Li'l Abner, not only in its rural setting, but also in its outrageous humor, sometimes slipping into the surreal — found, for example, in the supporting character Mr. Guppy, a "man-mermaid" (no relation to anyone in Spongebob Squarepants) who got around on land by augmenting his fish tail with crutches; or a baseball game which continued even after 13 men were killed in the first inning. Babe once described her own ability as "Ah can outrun a hoss wif my left laig draggin', an' Ah can jump a six-rail fence wif a pub undah each arm." To emphasize the similarity, she was once temporarily turned male, and "Abe Boone" looked just like a yellow-haired Abner.
In fact, hard as it is to parody something as broadly comedic as Abner, Babe was broadly comedic enough to do it. This has led to a great deal of after-the-fact critical acclaim, but at the time, didn't lead to a great deal of longevity for the comic book.
Rogers, tiring of the cartooning way of life, ended Babe after only 11 issues. The last one was dated May, 1950. Two years later, he left cartoons behind him and opened an art supply store in Phoenix, AZ.