Cracks by Ceagee

     I have read a lot of joke books  You might have gathered that just generally, reading what I have to write, or perhaps you have been with this blog for a while and remember when I serialized my old joke quizbook.  But I mean to say that I have read a LOT of joke books, and a lot of different kinds of jokebooks, from the little ones which appeared in boxes of Cracker Jacks to massive, exhaustive tomes.  I have experienced, in a small way, the phenomenon from the days of vaudeville and minstrel shows when gag writers would simply publish a regular magazine for those involved in the trade, filled with jokes and skits to perform.

     But I have never run into anything quite like these.

     In format, they resemble the eight-page narratives I have discussed in this space, but these are NOT pornographic, and they come with twelve pages each.. Each page contains a different joke with an accompanying illustration, so you were not getting a LOT of jokes when you picked these up.  They are the work of Ceagee Publishing a company which, um, I cannot find listed anywhere on the Interwebs.  It may have been one person with a stencil machine and a mind for telling jokes.  They all date from 1944, so it may have been a G.I. with an office job and time on his hands

     Some of the jokes are hits and some are misses, but that’s true of every joke book and every reader.  Not every joke is going to strike you as a Button Buster.  “How much money do you earn, dear?”  “About $1,500 a year.”  “But we can’t live on that!”.  “:Oh, but they pay me $7,000.”)

     What fascinates me about the way he tells his jokes, though, is the casual relationship between the joke and the illustration.  For the joke just cited, for example, we have what appears to be a secretary, holding her dictation pad, talking to a businessman who for some reason is lying on the floor next to his desk.

     Take this classic bit of humor.  There is no earthly reason why this dialogue should NOT be exchanged by two people, one of whom is fondling the other’s chest tattoo, but I’m afraid I don’t see why it should, either.

     We are dealing with a number of artists here, some of whom can draw, and some of whom take aim at the target.  This little witticism deals with a child explaining her father sells waterproof milk, because it holds water.  (The text seeps off the page.)What’s the angry lady with the large posterior doing in our story?  I admit she is by far the funniest thing on this page, but why….

     It looks as if we’re dealing with someone who had a lot of stock illustrations, and a number of jokes.  He then mixed these together as best he could. 

     That would help explain why some cartoons are drawn in the style of the forties, while others hearken back to an earlier day.

     And some seem to exist in a world of their own.

     I will go on hunting for Mr. or Ms. Ceagee.  I’ve already checked to see if there was a Camp Ceagee or a Ceagee Field or a U.S.S. Ceagee some serviceman might have produced these on.  It may have been some high school kid with access to the school machinery, or someone who edited a summer camp newsletter and had access to some cuts.  Maybe there was a person whose initials were CAG, or three kids with those first initials. These could easily be the last existing copies of these little volumes on earth (he might also have stolen everything here wholesale from a larger joke magazine, which had the peculiar aesthetic I am crediting to Ceagee.)

     But I salute you, oh auteur.  You did what you could with what you had, which is all any humorist can do.  If sometimes I laughed for the wrong reason, well, I laughed.

One thought on “Cracks by Ceagee

  1. I blame my doctors for not getting me that prescription for new glasses yet. I wrote this after utterly failing to find out anything about the Cragee Publishing Co. and only found out, by better light, the correct spelling. There are other Ceagee booklets like these out there, obviously made for servicemen who had to be cautious about the size and weight of anything they carried. I made a few corrections in the post, but you can see the seams; still, the mysterious Ceagee whoever he/she/they might have been appears to be unknown.


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