The thing about a cartoon format is it is usually owned and jealously guarded by ONE cartoonist – normally by giving it a name. But the castaway cartoons were only a concept – and a surreal one at that – so EVERYONE did them.
I am talking of the Sixties and Seventies – when people used to READ (I get sixty thousand hits a day on my VISUAL uploads, but only eighty a day on my WRITTEN ramblings – not eighty THOUSAND – just EIGHTY). In those halcyon days, there were things called “newspapers” and “magazines” and single-panel cartoons would litter their pages, to add contrast to the print.
And the castaway scenario cropped up time and time again. It consisted of a bloke, sometimes two (it would only include a woman if the gag called for one) and there they stood, in raggedy clothes, with long, unkempt beard and hair, surrounded by ocean, the sun in a clear sky, with the ONE palm tree in the middle for visual effect – on an island about the size of a DOUBLE-BED.
I SAID it was SURREAL! I mean, where did the occupant(s) get WATER from? And aside from a fish or two – what would they EAT? And with only a single palm tree, it would be a toss-up whether they would die from exposure, sun-stroke, thirst or malnutrition. Either way, they would not last a week.
But this did not matter – Wile E Coyote would never survive a five-hundred-foot fall into a ravine, either. As previously stated, it was just a CONCEPT. A frame into which humour could be painted – an island the castaway(s) could have SURVIVED on would have required too much detail and been a distraction from the GAG.
I used to have HUNDREDS of these things in magazines – but a flooded celler KILLED them all, a few years ago. However, I have seen sites on the Interweb where vintage cartoons are displayed – so you should be able to find some somewhere.
From MEMORY, I still recall a few (and if a cartoon can stay with you for forty years, it must have been pretty good!) Even the great Don Martin, of “Mad” magazine, did some.
There was the one (which was a STRIP) where the bloke sees a crate floating towards him and risks a shark-attack to recover it. On opening it, he discovers it contains a HAMMOCK! (Remember, he only had the ONE TREE).
And what about the poor chap with FOUR trees which are now only STUMPS, because he has chopped them down to build a boat – but he has only managed to half-finish it, so now he is watering four TINY NEW trees…
The above were universal, needing no dialogue – but my all-time favourite is another single-panel one with TWO guys – and just one line of dialogue. From their standard raggedy clothes and long, unkempt beards and hair, it is obvious they have been on this pin-prick of an island for YEARS and one of them says – “I keep thinking it’s Thursday.”