Monday, September 24, 2012

It's a Good Life If You Don't Weaken

Seth's "It's a Good Life, If You Don't Weaken"

Just exactly where did this expression come from?

I ran across the phrase while reading Graham Greene's 1938 novel Brighton Rock, and it fired my synapses into memory recall mode because there's a "picture-novella" by Seth called It's a Good Life, If You Don't Weaken (about the author's search to find comics by fictional cartoonist  "Kalo," who in turn was based on real New Yorker gag cartoonist Peter Arno) and a song by the Canadian indie-rock band Tragically Hip.

Watch "It's a Good Life If You Don't Weaken."

But then I found out it was also the name of cartoonist Gene Byrnes (1889-1974)'s syndicated strip for the New York Evening Telegram, which ran from 1915 to 1919 and featured his kid creations, the "Reg'lar fellows." It apparently became a rallying cry for American soldiers during World War I. For his part, Seth said his mother used the phrase when he was growing up and even dedicated his graphic novella "to my mother Violet, from whom I often heard the title of this book."
Gene Byrnes "Reg'lar Fellows"

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