Day 14: Flippa-Dippa!

Okay, okay, this is way off the chronology as far as first-appearances here, but this scrawny kid is full of pugnacious courage and off-the-wall craziness, all in his perennial scuba gear, I gotta single him out… I just love it when Jack goes a little bonkers: I mean, how was the King thinking he could regularly use a newspaper delivery boy-slash-adventurer who always wears a wet suit, flippers, diving mask and oxygen tanks??? You’d think the lad would be a… errr… fish out of water, wouldn’t ya? Well, this sequence, taking place during the wild underwater ride on the Zoomway, is your answer, skeptics!

Flip is, natch, the newest member of the New Newsboy Legion (given he wasn’t born into the group). In a follow-up ish, we find that his unnamed father (Mr. Dippa?) is coincidentally associated with the now grown-up original Newsboy Legion! I mean, what are the odds…?

I still haven’t figured out if the newest Newsboy’s official name is Flipper Dipper (sometimes with a hyphen) or Flippa-Dippa (sometimes without). Me, I dig the non-parenthetical latter, dig?

13 thoughts on “Day 14: Flippa-Dippa!

  1. J.A. Fludd

    I prefer Flipper Dipper also. I remember being very taken with this character when the Fourth World was just starting up. I had no prior knowledge of the Newsboy Legion at the time, but I understood the concept of introducing the sons of characters from a past era and I was fascinated with the whole thing. I especially liked it that Jack included a black kid in the revived Newsboy Legion (I’m for anything that shows the races coexisting), and I thought the whole “Scuba” gimmick was just so inventive. (And not at all the obvious thing to do with a black kid, which was all to the better!) Great Blog as always.

  2. patrick ford

    Ever notice his “wet-suit” is almost baggy?

    It wasn’t just us that was wondering, “Doesn’t this kid ever take that thing off?”

    Flipper’s dad scolded him in JO #135, “I’m here too, Flippa-Dippa. Now, take off that silly stuff.”

  3. JonBCooke Post author

    The Newsboy Legion was a complete unknown to me, too, at the time they were reintroduced, and I was instantly fascinated. And I knew my share of Golden Age characters, also, at the time, so I was doubly delighted not only to think they were cool (in the way “The East Side Boys” movie franchise was cool, in an endearing retro way) but also be exposed to hitherto unknown Kirby characters…

    Y’know, it’s funny: I don’t think I had any hint of Jack’s prior body of DC work besides, I think, his mid-’50s “Green Arrow” and Challengers of the Unknown. And I was ravenous for knowledge of the comics “before my time.” I mean Julie Schwartz was having a ball reviving all the ’40s costumed heroes… Well, certainly the Sheldon Mayer-edited heroes, anyway.

    I realize the Simon & Kirby creations might’ve seemed a mite more difficult to integrate, maybe, being gritty and so… so violent ‘n’ all, into Julie’s clean and well-mannered Earth 2. But I wonder if the Jack Schiff Sky Masters lawsuit begrudged DC editorial to take a pass on reviving S&K’s crew… Or maybe I’m just being paranoid again…

    Anyone know who was DC editor of S&K’s stuff? Whitney Ellsworth?

    And, finally, have any of you Kirbyheads seen S&K Young Allies stories? I’m loathe to think Jack created that reprehensible stereotypical character… “Washboard Jones,” was it?

    1. John S.


      Yes, I think Ellsworth was S&K’s editor in the early ’40s (or one of them, at least). If I’m not mistaken, he was even one of the DC staffers who got a cameo in the famous “Satan Wears a Swastika” story from Boy Commandos #1 (reprinted in Mister Miracle #6).

      You’re right, that black character in Young Allies was deplorable — but those were different times. Even Eisner’s Ebony character was a pretty bad stereotype when you get right down to it. But it was accepted for the times it was from. The fact is, American comics have always been written primarily by white males, and the content of those comics has naturally reflected the viewpoints (and prejudices, if any) of their authors — for better or for worse.

      1. JonBCooke Post author

        I’ll look into that Whitewash Jonesiwhatsis character and get more info — I need actual Kirby-drawn proof to confirm my fear — but wrong is wrong, and while the documentary doesn’t dwell on our discussion too much (though we didn’t (ahem) whitewash the Ebony controversy), I did press Will Eisner regarding that stereotype. He was pretty defensive — “Those were the times” kinda thing — but I think it was lame pandering, if not out and out prejudice, as it was in many aspects of American culture — and it will always shock me to see that kind of crap from artists like Eisner and Kirby who are humanist enough in their work to know better… I mean, it’s artists who often significantly help change the rabble’s point of view. And I like to think there’s some obligation for telling higher Truths.

    2. patrick ford

      Jon, On the subject of the Young Allies, and the character Washboard Jones you might want to read this article from the Simon and Kirby blog.

  4. John S.

    I’m gonna go out on a limb here and explain how I THINK Jack came up with the Flippa Dippa character.

    Do you remember back in the early ’70s, when it seemed as if every black character in comics had the last name “Wilson”? Of course you do! Sam Wilson, Jim Wilson, etc. How could you forget! Well, why did the writers back then choose that name? Because, as you’ll no doubt recall, by far the most popular black celebrity at the time was the inimitable Flip Wilson. So the writers just automatically associated the name “Wilson” with blacks, thereby making the name-selection process an easy task. I honestly believe that Jack did the same thing; except he used Flip Wilson’s FIRST name instead of his last name as the inspiration for his character. Then it was simply a matter of creating character traits that would fit the name — hence the scuba-diving connection. Of course, it didn’t help the situation when Marvel, a short time later, hired a black artist named (Rampagin’) RON Wilson! AAARRGH! That can’t be real… can it? Yes. It can be. And that’s my explanation and I’m sticking to it — until someone else can provide a better one. Why did I post it here? The Devil made me do it!

  5. patrick ford


    My understanding is that while Whitney Ellsworth was credited as the editor, it was Jack Schiff who was editing the books.

    It’s likely that Simon and Kirby had almost complete autonomy except when dealing with publisher Jack Liebowitz.

    Interesting comments in Alter-Ego magazine from a recent interview by Jim Amash with DC editor (and close friend of Jack Schiff) George Kashdan concerning the Sky Masters situation.

    JIM AMASH: I’ve heard Jack Schiff said, “As long as I work here Jack Kirby will not work here.”

    KASHDAN: He may have. I could believe it. Schiff was mad at Kirby over Sky Masters, and Schiff was temperamental. One day Kirby asked Schiff for assignments, and Schiff virtually kicked him out. and shouted at him, “What the hell do you want here with me?”

    Kirby said, “I’m just trying to make a living Jack.”

    Schiff said, “Well, go make a living somewhere else.”

    Kirby showed his hostility in different ways.

    JA: What other ways?

    KASHDAN: Like going to work for Marvel. Schiff had no bad blood he expected Kirby to take it like a man.

    JA: Marvel was paying about one half of what DC was paying, but Kirby couldn’t get work from any DC editor. Do you think Schiff had something to do with that?

    KASHDAN: The other editors joined ranks at the request of Schiff.

    JA: Would Schiff have been mad if you hired Kirby?

    KASHDAN: I couldn’t have done it with Schiff around.

    JA: So was Kirby blackballed?

    KASHDAN: Yes, virtually he was.

  6. JonBCooke Post author

    Yes, I knew Jack was persona non grata at DC after the Sky Masters case, as after all, Kirby only went to the publisher after Schiff has retired; my surmise is whether the DC editors were even adverse to exploit the S&K characters in the vaults at Lexington Avenue. I mean, I kinda doubt it but, still, do ya think they considered the stuff with distaste?

    Kashdan don’t sound none too good in this excerpt. DC was the top of the heap. Jack had a family to feed. Working for Martin Goodman was a hostile move? Yeesh, gimme a break!

  7. patrick ford


    After reading your article on Sky Masters in TJKC #15, I was appalled that Jack Schiff would have expected anything more than a pastrami on rye in thanks for his part in the creation of the Sky Masters comic strip.

    Par for the comics industry course though, just ask Bill Finger, Siegel & Shuster, and on down the list.

    Notice that Kashdan’s recollection, if true (and his odd “hostility” remark paints him as sympathetic towards Schiff), seems to contradict Schiff’s sworn deposition where he denied he had cut Kirby’s assignments at DC as sworn by Kirby.

    Schiff: Whether Kirby deliberately cut his requests for work and slowed down his completion of assignments, because he realized that his earnings in 1958 were matching 1957, or because he was so occupied with the strip and his other assignments, I do not know.

  8. JonBCooke Post author

    DC editorial in the 1950s and early to mid-’60s was a snake pit, at least a few of the offices. Schiff seems to be generally considered alright, but the output was drek. Kanigher was a lunatic — only Toth and Kubert seemed to stand up to his bullying. Schwartz kept quiet in the corner, staying out of the intrigue. Weisinger was, well, a dick. The whole Lexington office scene sounded so unpleasant.

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