Thursday, December 20, 2007

Larry Gore's Thing (comic strip)

(c 1968-1970) Larry Gore's Thing
Web Page

Who is Larry Gore? Well, he's described by Frank Jacobs as "two parts Groucho Marx, one part Machiavelli." William M. Gaines -- long time publisher of Mad Magazine, said Gore was "even madder than we are."

He made his living as a publicist and he did have some famous clients: Red Skelton, Mad Magazine, the Miss NYC Pageant, John Wayne. And his most famous publicity stunt became legend: Tiny Tim's marriage to Miss Vicky on The Tonight Show.

So what was Larry Gore's Thing? In theory, a newspaper comic strip, though it didn't look like one. There were no characters (other than Larry Gore). There often wasn't any art (other than maybe a stock photo). Often, it was printed sideways. It was filled with dumb jokes and pointless stories, fake ads, topical humor, celebrity quotes, and fake opinion columns that had no opinions. If anything, it was probably pitched as a comic strip version of Rowan and Martin's Laugh-in. Some items included:

  • Enter the "I'll Do Anything for Publicity Contest." The lucky girl who wins will be sorry.
  • Lifetime Guarantee on all of our pure mahogany coffins.
  • Factory to you! We eliminate the middleman's profit! The factory is mailed directly to you.
  • Boheck's* gives real food stamps. Yes . . . at last. Stamps that taste like food.
  • Today's Horoscope: avoid any astrology readings.
  • LESS Cigarettes: After countless laboratory tests, 99 out of 100 medical doctors suggest you smoke LESS.
  • Today's Horoscope: Stay cool. Don't go to Pisces.
Gore's only collaborator in this was artist Bob Clarke (best known for his work with Mad), who would add his own work to the clip art and photos.

The strip only ran a few years and in only a few newspapers (Newsday on Long Island being one of the few). Avon Books published a collection in 1970, but I don't think the comic lasted much beyond that. If you can find the book somewhere, pick it up.

*A play on "Bohack's," a Long Island supermarket chain that went out of business in the 70s.

11 comments:

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Anonymous said...

i actually SAVED a few Larry Gore's Things from Newsday. they may be yellowed and crinkled but definitely worth a view. i'll try to dig them up...

Tracy! said...

I'm Larry Gore's daughter, Tracy. That the internet was born after my father died (way too young) is the reason that so little about him is available on the web. Really appreciate your glowing post on my Dad but would like to add a couple of corrections.

The "Laugh In" writers closely followed LARRY GORE'S THING and his comic genius would often be copied verbatim by them in subsequent weeks. He was an original and would never stoop to copy. He wasn't inclined to be litigious which is why they got away with it.

He started the column at Newsday but ended up being syndicated in over 100 papers.

He was one of the top publicists in New York in the 50's and 60's and there wasn't a columnist that didn't love him and his items.

Thanks again for this remembrance.

Tracy! said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Billy Gore said...

Ditto to what my sister, Tracy, said. I'm lucky that we have all the strips (even some original artwork, and boards) as well as much of his other great stuff. I believe that Larry Gore's Thing was syndicated by Newsday to about 50 or so other papers in the US.
At the time of his death in London, I know he was in talks with John Cleese about doing a new show. It might have been Fawlty Towers but I'm not sure. I do know he loved the Monty Python crew.
Anyway, I believe you do link to the www.larrygoresthing.com website and thank you. I should put more material!
I only wish I had a fraction of his talent!

Vince Iuliano said...

Big fan of Larry Gore's Thing - as a kid growing up I would mimic his comic and leave it out at night for my Dad to read (he worked nights)...In the morning , I would find his version of Larry's great comic - fresh jokes and all. What great memories..Miss 'Thing'..

Vince Iuliano said...

are there any thoughts of putting The Thing together for publishing? I know i would love to have it in my library and Mad afficionado's of my age would line up for this holy grail of missing memorabilia.
i looked forward to his column each day , it was definitely a breath of fresh air.
When i publish many of my comic ideas in Kindle, its the spirit of the Mad geniuses i try to summon.

Tracy! said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tracy! said...

Vince, If you send me your contact info I would send you some tear sheets from LARRY GORE'S THING. So many of his columns would be timely today - just change the names of the politicians and pseudo celebrities. my email is nytracy@verizon.net

He did a few THING compilations in paperback and you'll see them for sale once in a while.

Sounds like you had a great dad too!

Best,
Tracy Gore!

Tracy! said...

I am often contacted by fans of my father and his 'Thing'. My email has changed but if you'd like a copy of one of his columns, feel free to contact me at nytracy@verizon.net

Thanks,
Tracy Gore!

jolie said...

Although i lived in queens at the time, home of the long island press, a few towns over from mr gore's family in woodmere, i first "found" larry gore's thing when i was in the navy and he was syndicated in in the norfolk virginian pilot. I pointed that out to him in a letter and he invited me over to his home where, as he said, he "have 3 kids, one of each". He casually asked 2 of them around for their opinion of his latest "thing", and he might have not been litigious, but was upset when smuckers asked him for ideas and said to combine their jelly with peanut butter, and after telling him it was physically impossible, somehow they managed to manufacture it. I would think it's sometimes tough to love eccentrics, but glad his children apparently loved their dad.