SILLY MILLYMedium: Newspaper comics
Distributed by: The New York Post
First Appeared: 1938
Creator: Stan MacGovern
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as cartoonist for The New York Post, starting as early as the 1920s. The Post distributed it to other newspapers, a normal function of newspaper syndicates, but it wasn't much like other comics-handling syndicates, either.
The Post was a long-running New York newspaper, which, like many other papers around the country, dabbled in syndication. Its efforts in that direction resulted in only one long-running commercial success (Mark Trail, which succeeded only for other syndicates) and one critical success (Drago, which is mostly forgotten).
Starting in June, 1938, MacGovern produced a daily comic for the Post, titled Extra Extra, which was also syndicated by American Feature Syndicate, another very minor outfit whose other offerings include Captain Flight and Heavy Hannah. It was soon retitled Swing with the News; and a little later re-named after its star, Silly Milly. The strip's purpose was to make fun of small news stories — not the big things that affect people's lives, and not in ways that made people think about the important issues of the day. Its purpose was simply to get laughs out of the little things that sometimes find their way into the paper.
MacGovern's cartooning style was simple and direct, and has been compared to that of cartoning legend Milt Gross (He Done Her Wrong). Comics historian Ron Goulart (Star Hawks) has also compared it to "the energetic scrawls of kindergarten kids." His humor was both uninhibited and unsubtle, and another historian, Coulton Waugh (Dickie Dare), compared it to Smokey Stover. He's said to have influenced Jack Mendelsohn (Jackys Diary).
Milly's media spin-offs were few, but in the early '40s, she did inspire music men Buddy Kaye and Ted Mossman compose a song about her. It was published as sheet music, with a cover by MacGovern, and later recorded.
Silly Milly was well liked by those who saw it, but there weren't very many people like that. It flourished through the 1940s; but in the early '50s, MacGovern gave up cartooning in favor of running a gift shop on Long Island. The strip ended in 1951. MacGovern died in '75.