Friday, April 11, 2008

Mr. Bowser

We have been presenting stories about Mr. Bowser since August of 2006 every Saturday, and it seems that we will continue to do so for quite a while longer. Created by Charles Bertrand Lewis for the Detroit Free Press back in 1886, Lewis, writing under the pen name of 'M. Quad,' continued relating the old grouch's adventures every week until his death in 1924! Afterward, his son continued writing Bowser tales (and stories about other M. Quad characters) for a while longer under the name of "M. Quad Jr." Of all the humorists we have featured on Mister Ron's Basement, Lewis's career was among the longest lived (other funny folks vying for that title include George Ade and Stephen Leacock). 

Lewis was not a genius by any account. He fell back on formula writing for much of his career. In 1903, H. L. Mencken was mystified that he had to keep running the M. Quad weekly feature due to reader demand, even though he thought it was old fashioned even then. He also noted that Lewis provided extra work for freelance ghost writers to crank out his material, much like many comic strip artists have done over the years.

You can read a bit more about M. Quad in a previous post on this blog here. While he began his long  humor writing career by barely surviving a tragic explosion, he became wealthy and admired, lived a long and happy life, and raised a family who aided his efforts into his old age.

For the past few weeks, we have been featuring the very first Mr. Bowser stories ever written, starting in 1886. Many of them are actually quite funny and fresh, undoubtedly because Lewis was writing them himself, and for the first time.  They began with Basement episode #1022, and get funnier every week. Check them out!

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