Blimpy, the Bungling Buddha
+ Tabby Tyler
NAME + ALIASES:
Feature Comics #64 (January 1943)
Feature Comics #64–133 (Jan. 1943–April 1949)
Feature Comics #64–133 (January 1943–April 1949)
Quality published several humor features whose stars bordered on the “superhero” classification. One of these was “Blimpy the Bungling Buddha.” Who's Whose? lists Blimpy's creator as Sy Reit, who did lots of other humor features for Quality. The next tale and many more were done and signed by Al Stahl. Stahl came to Quality at a time when the publisher was slimming down the number of dramatic superheroes in favor of humor. His Blimpy was possessed of amazing supernatural abilities, but his adventures were played for laughs. Quality was a pioneer in this mix of genres, and creators like Reit and Stahl were no doubt inspired by Jack Cole’s humor/hero work on "Plastic Man" and "Midnight."
Blimpy was an “ancient Oriental Buddha” statue brought to life when young Tabby Tyler decided to debunk an ancient myth. When Tabby spoke the magic words, “Oggle doggle woggle ibbidy bibbidy sibbidy sab, dictionary down the ferry, out goes ipso facto with the floy-floy!” the statue came to life! Blimpy was prone to mischief, and it took all of Tabby’s energy to keep Blimpy in check. In his first adventure, Blimpy attempted to disguise his blue skin in public. He covered himself with coal dust and tried to pass for African American, calling himself Rufus Rastas Sassafrass O’Brain. (Feature #64)
It took some time for Blimpy to acclimate to American society but he instinctively knew how to solve fantastic problems. He put a stop to the Mechanical Gangster (#65), and fell in love with a lady statue, the Diamond Eyes, whom he stole from her sculptor, Chips. Tabby also brought her to life and Diamond Eyes was able to chase off more thieves by animating Chips’ other statues. (#66)
When Stahl temporarily left for military service, Blimpy’s adventures got more outlandish. In the hands of Tony DiPreta, he took trips to other planets (#79), and met evil genies (#82), as well as Twerlin the Sorceror. (#83) Jack Cole is credited with having drawn "Blimpy" in Feature #77, but this strip is not available in the digital download at DCM.
Another portly blue apparition called Mr. Keeper debuted in Hit Comics “Kid Eternity,” around the same time.
The popular Western concept of the genie comes from the tale of Aladdin, from Arabian Nights. In contemporary America, Aladdin had appeared in a 1939 “Popeye” cartoon special produced by Fleischer Studios. In this adaptation, Popeye conjures a blue-colored genie from the lamp. The use of the color blue may all be mere coincidence, but then again…
Like most genies, Blimpy could perform a wide range of magical tricks. He or others could also change him back into stone with the use of the same magic words which animated him.