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Our Gang of Lawyers
Written by Jacob Covey | Filed under miscellanyJeff Smith 10 Jul 2008 11:43 AM

Below this post, Mike Baehr announced the release of Walt Kelly's Our Gang Volume 3. The covers for this series are being drawn by the great Jeff Smith, as tributes to one of his idols.

A lot goes on "behind the scenes" when producing these collections. You may note that the purple cap pictured seems just a little bit more detailed than the rest of the kids' clothes. In this case lawyers from Another Publisher had seen an advance copy of the cover and required four variations on the cap before they were satisfied that it didn't infringe on a character they represented-- let's call him Bucketface. A popular look in the 30s/40s, the hat is created by cutting a zig-zag out of the brim of a fedora. It is also a hat that this kid wears throughout the Our Gang stories. So while my uneducated opinion is that any infringement on Bucketface is meritless, what do I know?

Anyway, here's the evolution of the cap, minus the second stage which I lost documentation of. And yes, we had to add "more buttons" to the hat between the third and fourth change. And yes, this all cost a lot of money in lawyer fees on both sides.

fkd.jpg

 

I found an ironic twist to this story, via Wikipedia. At some point in the 1960s, Bucketface's friends got curious what his real name was: "[His friends] decided to go to City Hall and check his birth certificate; the stuffy clerk there demands a large fee, which they scrape up with difficulty. The clerk responds by reading them a very ordinary name, to their great disappointment. In the last frame, [Bucketface] crawls out from under the clerk's desk and hands him a cigar, saying 'Gee, thanks, Uncle George!' (a reference to a comedic short from the 30s show Our Gang)."

Oyvey. Thank you Jeff Smith for enduring these headaches (and so many others now) for your love of Walt Kelly!