Thursday, June 22, 2006


Major Amos B. Hoople

Major Amos B. Hoople was a character in a once-famous cartoon strip called "Our Boarding House", which featured the goings-on at Martha Hoople's rooming establishment. It was written and drawn by Gene Ahern, and began to appear in September 1921, though Martha's husband, Major Amos Barnaby Hoople, doesn't apepar from ten years' away globetrotting until 27 January 1922. The Major was a layabout given to whopping lies about his achievements and addicted to get-rich-quick schemes. As I've noted before, he has been called "perhaps the greatest windbag, stuffed shirt and blowhard ever to "hrumph" is way across the funnies page."

"Hoople" was used as a derogatory term from the time of the strip's appearance in the early 1920s, and continued until the series' demise in 1981. The use of the term "hooplehead" appeared recently from the lips of the infamous 'bad guy that you can't help but root for', Al Swearingen, in HBO's "Deadwood", and appears to be a vague reference to that famous windbag.

From "":
Major Amos B. Hoople was the central character in "Our Boarding House," created by Gene Ahern, which ran from September 1921 to December 22, 1984. The overweight, balding Major had a bushy black mustache and always wore a fez. Compared by some to W.C. Fields and Shakespeare's Falstaff, he considered himself an expert on every subject, and was always on the lookout for a new get-rich-quick scheme. His wife, Martha, was the owner of the boarding house that was home to the strip's cast of characters.

From "Did you Know...", by Scoop:
In comics history's cadre of curmudgeonly grumps, Major Hoople is king. And like another of this week's features, Hoople was a late addition to an already thriving comic strip. Our Boarding House, the story of wizened homeowner Martha Hoople and her quirky stable of boarders, appeared for four months in 1921 before Major ambled obnoxiously back into estranged wife Martha's life after a ten-year absence.

Though the strip was interesting enough without him, Major Hoople's disagreeably daft personality proved to be quite the ratings boon, as readers embraced him in with Archie Bunker aplomb.

Aside from his affinity for cigars and the weathered fez donning his balding head, Hoople was best known for stretching the strip's text bubbles to the bursting point with his long-winded speeches, littered with "Hmph"s and "Egads," about the astounding ten years he spent away from his wife.

Though strip creator Gene Ahern retired in 1953, Our Boarding House, continued in popularity for decades, inspiring a shortlived radio show starring Arthur Q. Bryan, Patsy Moran and Conrad Binyon, as well as a Big Little Book and a oneshot comic.

You retired to Alaska!?!?!?!? What were you thinking? Was it that TV series wherein Our Hero was shown at the end of every program soulfully playing his cello on a dock in an Alaskan-looking setting?

I can't figure out how to send it to you, so if you don't already know it, Google Yoyo Ma wombat foto. If you think you like him now, just wait.

I ought to confess that when I retired I moved from Florida to Massachusetts, so I have standards for crazy moves.
I have read your email posted in AWAD regarding
bloviate, andyou beat me to it! As I read that daily AWAD word, I also recalled Major Hoople, a comics regular in my youth in our local paper (Redlands, CA). Off I went to college armed with the paper to connect me with home, my roommate objected to my posting Our Boarding House in our room and so that came to an end. What a great walk down memory lane -- thank you. (Right next to it ran Down Our Way, a nostalgic comic of kids hanging out and commenting on the world. Our paper loved memories like that.)

Bill Stanley
Issaquah, WA

I've now connected with your blog: I'm about to retire, and it appears either writing or reading a blog is a way to go.

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home