A typical entry in Jackys Diary. Artist: Jack Mendelsohn.


Original medium: Newspaper comics
Distributed by: King Features Syndicate
First Appeared: 1959
Creator: Jack Mendelsohn
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Cartoonist Jack Mendelsohn has worn more hats in the cartoon industry than most. He's written comic books such as DC Comics' Jimminy & the Magic Book and Archie Comics' Super Duck. He's written …

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… and directed animated series such as Hong Kong Phooey, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Clifford the Big Red Dog. He's ghosted both the writing and illustration for comics, e.g., the newspaper version of Felix the Cat and the comic book adaptation of Mell Lazarus's newspaper strip Miss Peach. And he's credited with creating some seriously odd cartoons, such as Filmation's Groovy Goolies and, odder yet, this one — Jackys Diary.

King Features Syndicate launched Jackys Diary as a Sunday-only comic on January 11, 1959. It purported to be the hand-illustrated, hand-written diary of a young boy, supposedly Mendelsohn himself in his extreme youth. Thus, it was both written and illustrated as though by a small child — which is not as easy to do as some who have had the misfortune of growing up might think. Week after week, Mendelsohn described trips to the circus, fishing expeditions, visits to members of his extended family, and all sorts of other adventures kids have, in a style simulating that of an actual kid — except, of course, for the fact that it was professionally rendered in every way.

Unfortunately, professional work is sometimes best recognized by another professional, or at least by someone who knows what to look for — or at the very least, by someone who could see that this was a spoof, and that childishness was a schtick and not a natural state for Mendelsohn. King Features received complaints from those who didn't "get" it, and thought the company was publishing the work of an actual child — or, in the case of those who noticed the byline ("by Jacky Mendelsohn, age 32½") by an adult whose abilities hadn't progressed since childhood. Often, parents, mistaking the strip's intent, would encourage their own children to send in submissions to what they thought was a kids' participation feature.

But that's not why it folded quickly, Mendelsohn said in a later interview. It's simply that a Sunday-only comic is more expensive to produce than a daily, and King just couldn't afford it anymore. After three years, it was replaced with a Sunday version of Lee Holley's Ponytail. Before it was finished, it was brought out in comic book form by Dell Comics, but that lasted only one issue (where, by the way, an apostrophe was added, making it Jacky's Diary). Mendelsohn made two theatrically-released cartoons from the series at Famous Studios, but they didn't make it to the screen until 1965.

Today, Jackys Diary is one of a small class of comics, such as King Aroo and Sam's Strip, that are almost completely forgotten by the general public — but vividly remembered by those who really know comics.


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Text ©2006-07 Donald D. Markstein. Art © King Features.