Instead of a Saturday Comic, I’ll publish this on Friday, since it is a combination of comic and a more-extensive weekday post. This is a full story arc that ran from April 26, 1958 through August 16, 1958.
It is from a comic strip named Gordo.
I don’t think I’d ever heard of the comic strip, which ran from 1941 to 1985, and was written by Gus Arriola. It mainly took place in Mexico and while it did play on stereotypes, it is also credited with introducing Americans to a more realistic view of Mexican life. As a result, Gus Arriola (who was a Mexican-American, by the way), was even called, by implication, an Accidental Ambassador.
Gordo Salazar Lopez was the main character. He started out as a bean farmer, but over the years became a tourist guide. He took care of his nephew Pepito. Other regular characters in the strip included Juan Pablo Jones (a bit of a bum), Paris Juarez Keats Garcia (a poet), and his rich wife, Rusty. In this story arc they are visited by Mary Frances Sevier (who was an occasional character), a (mostly-)spoiled rich little girl from Texas, who talked with a broad (and sometimes indecipherable) accent. Supposedly, Gus gave her the name and the accent of his wife.
So, sit back and enjoy the strip. While there are not a lot of bare feet, I think you’ll find a barefoot assumption we still recognize today. (You can click on each image for a slightly larger, more readable version.)
At this point you might note that Shocking Pedro is wearing mostly rags.
And here we find out that Shocking Pedro is poor and doesn’t even own shoes.
He’s not the only one, either.
After all, “none of the children you see barefoot do it for fun, dear”. Yet, it sure looks to me as if they are managing to have fun, after all.
And you can see, from the last panel, where this is going . . .
Yes, the old shoe charity gambit.
OK, get ready for a bunch of “bull” puns. For those of you who are too young, “Juan Bullymore” is punning the famous actor “John Barrymore”, the grandfather of Drew Barrymore.
In the third strip there you see Juan Pablo Jones, barefoot. He is usually shown barefoot over the years in Gordo, though occasionally I’ve seen him wearing sandals.
We also see, in the fifth and sixth panels, that he is going out to do the bullfighting barefoot. Clearly, that’s a choice on his part (or a set-up). Well, at least everybody isn’t deliberately going barefoot when they normally wouldn’t, just so they can see how awful it is to be one-day-without-shoes.
OK, it was a set-up.
Of course if you are barefoot people will step on your bare feet, right? And they never do it if you are wearing shoes. But it’s not as if a shoe (particularly a torero slipper) would provide any protection from the hoof of a bull, right? But it is still the joke they go for.
I guess we shouldn’t feel too bad: we also see the fat-person-splitting-their-pants joke.
Typical clueless American charity. Not only get them shoes, but get them mostly useless shoes: Oxford Saddle Shoes.
Oh, and whatever happened to helping out with getting them better clothing?
But the kids know what to do: go have fun playing barefoot. It’s no burden for them.
So, what will happen with those shoes? They will be worn quite rarely, because the kids will want to protect them and keep them nice looking. Next, the kids will then probably keep them as their feet grow out of them, and they’ll end up wearing shoes that are too small for their feet, ending up with typical Western mashed feet.
So there you have it.
What we still find missing here is choice. A lot of the kids probably prefer to go barefoot, but would still like the choice to wear shoes at times. Instead we find inappropriate shoes that don’t really provide choice, and that goes along with the kind of peer pressure we see today that actively frowns upon going barefoot.
Really not much has changed.