Monday, April 10, 2023

Arthur Loveridge – Comic Book Hero

Arthur Loveridge (1891–1980) is today well-known for his contributions to herpetology. He served as an Associate in Zoology and later as Curator in the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard University for 33 years (1924–1957), where his specialty was African herpetology. Loveridge published numerous papers and monographs based on his time as first Curator at the National Museum of Kenya (Nairobi) (1914–1921), his service as Game Warden in Tanganyika (1921–1924), and his later five long expeditions to East Africa over the period 1926 to 1949. Additional information on Loveridge is in Kraig Adler’s Contributions to the History of Herpetology, Volume 1 (1989, SSAR Contributions to Herpetology No. 5, pp. 111–112).

While in Kenya, Loveridge was a member of the East African Mounted Rifles during World War I. During three years of service, he traveled extensively through what was then German East Africa (now Tanzania), naturally collecting amphibians and reptiles throughout his military travels despite the wartime danger.  Loveridge later published a popular book on his adventures in East Africa, Many Happy Days I’ve Squandered (1944, Harper & Brothers, 278 pp.), which was republished in several editions, including an Armed Services Edition published by the U.S. Government for the troops during World War II. It was likely this latter edition that led to Loveridge’s entry into the world of comic books.

It Really Happened was published from 1944 to 1947 by William H. Wise & Company in New York City. The series of 11 issues was printed in comic book format on newsprint quality paper because of the wartime scarcity of better-quality paper. The series featured stories of biography and history, and issues highlighted real war accounts of actual events and acts of heroism and courage. Most of the non-war stories focused on adventure and unusual or interesting people and places. Copies sold for US 10¢.

In 1944, It Really Happened included a story entitled “Savage Safari” focusing on Arthur Loveridge. The artist and story editor are uncredited. The story covers five unpaginated pages (see Figures below) published in Issue 4 (Vol. 2, No. 1, total of 52 pp. in issue, including covers and advertisements). It traces Arthur’s interest in nature, particularly reptiles, through his museum appointment in Kenya and his adventures in the Mounted Rifles and time as Game Warden. Snakes are prominently featured. In “Savage Safari,” Arthur Loveridge may be the only herpetologist to have his story depicted in a widely-circulated comic book. Other comics, such as “Mark Trail” by Ed Dodd (no relation), have featured amphibians and reptiles, but not personalities.

Submitted by C. Kenneth Dodd, Jr.

Figs. 1–5: “Savage Safari” from It Really Happened (Issue 4, 1944). Author’s collection.




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