Marion Hull Hammel was an American art teacher and children's book illustrator, best known as the second artist to continue Garry Cleveland Myers' moralistic comic strip 'Goofus & Gallant', which she did for Highlights for Children magazine between 1952-1953 and 1984. Of all artists who drew the series her run has been the longest: 32 years.

Life and career
Marion Hull Hammel was born in 1922 in Syracuse, New York, but grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, for most of her childhood, returning back to her birth town when she was an early teenager. She went to Convent School and graduated from the College of Fine Arts at Syracuse University with a Bachelor's degree in 1944. Hammel was an art teacher at Skaneateles Central School District and actively involved with work for Alcoholics Anonymous. She painted a mural for the Huntington Club Children's Center in Syracuse and illustrated books such as 'The Happy Way' by Elizabeth Cornette and many titles for the Iroquois Publishing Company. Mrs. Hammel died in 2010 at age 87.

Goofus and Gallant
Marion Hull Hammel's best known work were her illustrations for the 'Goofus and Gallant' feature by Garry Cleveland Myers, succeeding the original artist Maurieta Wellman in 1952-1953. Myers was a psychology professor who, with his wife Caroline, taught educators and parents at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland Ohio. Myers' column 'The Parent Problem' was syndicated nationally by King Features, while he and his wife also wrote several books about the subject. From 1934 on they wrote articles for the magazine Children's Activities. It was here that 'Goofus and Gallant' first appeared in print in 1938 (some sources claim 1940) under the title 'The G-Twins'. Myers wrote the texts, with Maurieta Wellman making the illustrations. The feature is a picture story, with the sentences appearing below the drawings. Goofus is a rude, egotistical and unfair boy, while Gallant is decent, polite and overall friendly. Each episode depicts Goofus' bad behaviour in the left panel, contrasted with Gallant giving the good example in the (pun not intended) right panel. Their actions are typically described in one sentence each. Originally the boys were depicted as elves but from 1952 on they were changed into real children, based on Myers' own grandchildren.

In June 1946 Myers left Children's Activities to establish his own monthly children's magazine: Highlights for Children. The publication slowly but surely rose to become one of the best-selling magazines in the United States, to the point that it actually bought Children's Acivities and incorporated it within its own pages. 'Goofus & Gallant' appeared in Highlights for Children from 1948 on and became the longest-running comic strip in the magazine, along with the less famous 'The Timbertoes' by John Gee. From 1952 on Marion Hull Hammel drew the comic strip for more than 32 years, during which the series got its definitive tone and style. In 1984 she retired, and was succeeded by Sidney A. Quinn (1984-1994), Kit Wray (1995), Anni Matsick (1996-2005) and Leslie Harrington (2006-present).

Cultural impact
'Goofus & Gallant' is the most iconic didactic comic strip in the United States and has therefore been used by many teachers in grade and elementary school. For the same reason it has been studied and analyzed by many pedagogues. Even moral philosophers have shown interest in the comic, such as Theodore Snider, Matthew Konieczka and Casey Swank, who all wrote essays about the concept of "good and evil", as represented in the series. Issues of Highlights for Children are also commonly found in doctor's and dentist's offices.

Because of its bland and preachy tone, 'Goofus & Gallant' has also been a popular subject for cynical parody. Stand-up comedian Bill Hicks ridiculed the comic strip in one of his routines. In Mad Magazine the series has been directly spoofed with 'Goofus & Gallant's Guide to Sex & Dating' (issue #337, July 1995), written by Desmond Devlin and drawn by Dave Manak. Devlin also made a more subtle parody titled 'Melvin & Jenkins' Guide to …', which debuted in issue #356 (April 1997) and continued until issue #505 (October 2010), illustrated by Kevin Pope. In this version Melvin is the Gallantesque well-behaved boy, while Jenkins is the Goofusesque imbecile juvenile delinquent. Only issues #363 (November 1997) and #366 (February 1998) were scripted by Tom Cheney. 

In the first volume of the comic book adaptation of Mike Judge's 'Beavis & Butt-Head' (Volume 1, March 1994), illustrated by Rick Parker, Beavis reads a magazine in the dentist's office and chuckles: "Henh-Henh! Goofus is cool!" In 'The Simpsons' episode 'Brother's Little Helper' (1999) Homer notes that his son Bart "has gone from Goofus to Gallant" after taking Ritalin. In an unidentified episode of Mike Judge's 'King of the Hill' Hank reads 'Goofus and Gallant' and concludes that "this Goofus fella is a dumbass." In 2012 Tom Tomorrow parodied the duo as 'Goofball and Galahad', discussing the stance on universal healthcare. Mark Graban and Ed Butler also made a web comic parody titled 'Doofus & Learnie'.

Series and books by Marion Hull Hammel in stock in the Lambiek Webshop:


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