Barnaby, Small Scandinavian Investors, and Dapper Dan: Can you help identify these allusions? UPDATE: Mysteries Solved!
Crockett Johnson’s Barnaby (1942-1952) was both fantasy and topical satire. As noted on an earlier post, each of Fantagraphics’ 5-volume Barnaby series will have notes to explain the topical comments and any other references that may elude the average reader.
I’ve now finished the notes and Afterword for Barnaby Vol. 2: 1944-1945 (2014).
There are two allusions that elude me. Perhaps you can help? Here are my questions along with the two relevant strips, which I’ve scanned from the Del Rey paperbacks (we’re using better versions of these strips in the volume itself — don’t worry).
1. For instance, that Scandinavian Pixey, who— (28 Feb. 1945). This seems to be a reference to a specific (possibly diminutive) investor of Scandinavian descent, but I haven’t he foggiest idea as to whom it might be. As you can see in the strip above, Mr. Baxter says “Investment bankers don’t consider Pixies good risks, as a rule—.” He then adds, “Oh, they HAVE made a few exceptions…” and makes this comment. So, clearly, at least some of Johnson’s readers would have caught this reference.
2. Dapper Dan’s Outlet Emporium (27 April 1945). If this is a reference to a specific business, I haven’t been able to find it. When I was a kid, there was a Dapper Dan toy: a bald-headed man’s face, behind plastic. Using a magnet, you could move the little metal shavings (also encased in the plastic), and give him some hair, a moustache, beard. But this can’t be it. In the film O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000), there’s Dapper Dan pomade, but this is a fictional brand, evidently used only in the film. I need something that may have been around in 1945.
And, yes, of course, I’ll give credit where it’s due. (I realize that getting one’s name in the Acknowledgments is a rather small “prize” for your help, but,… well, I will to the Acknowledgments the names of those who help identify these two — unless you tell me you don’t want to be identified, that is.) Thanks in advance for any thoughts you may have.
The first Barnaby volume is in press, and will be out in May or June. You can order it from Fantagraphics.
UPDATE, 4:15 pm. Within less than an hour, both mysteries appear to be solved. Via Facebook, Mark Newgarden suggests Ivar Kreuger, “the Match King,” as the “Scandinavian” allusion. This makes sense. It’s the kind of allusion Johnson would make. He’s already had O’Malley proudly identify himself as mentor to Charles Ponzi.
Brian Herrera suggests “Dapper Dan” Hogan, a legendary Irish mobster. The mobster was known for his style, and indeed appears to be the origin of the nickname “Dapper Dan.” Johnson loved detective fiction & true crime stories. This is the sort of allusion he would make. So, combine the historical allusion with an Outlet Emporium and you get a not-too-reputable source of fashionable menswear, exactly the sort of place where a captain of industry (as O’Malley is, at this point in the narrative) would not be expected to shop — hence, the joke.
Mark also points out that the name “Dapper Dan” precedes Daniel Hogan. It had been attached to products prior to that time. And there’s even an Eddie Cantor song, says Brian. So, all of this is grist for my mill — and the note!
THANKS, MARK AND BRIAN!