when is a camera not a camera?

Komic Kamera (c1930s 2D film strip viewer)

Toronto. When it’s a Komic Kamera – a toy handheld ¬†2D viewer for film strips! The size of this viewer suggests 35mm strips. I saw a couple of sites on Google that suggested the little toy was made by different companies – Allied in Chicago, and Russakov¬†also in Chicago.

The “camera” was made in both tin and bakelite versions. It was actually a toy made to view short film strips frame by frame as you turned the knob to bring the next frame into view. The strips told a short story in 2D, usually featuring American newspaper comic characters of the day (some movie plots were used too, apparently).

The “Made in Chicago Museum” page gives background on Allied while the “Kleefeld on Comics” page credits Russakov. Kleefeld also suggests somewhat lewd/adult strips were offered for the tiny viewers.

As a kid, I once had a smaller bakelite viewer, black with art-deco sides. The strips were a smaller 16mm width to my memory. A ground glass window illuminated a frame while a simple eye-piece focused the frame on the retina. The bakelite case could be carefully pulled opened and the film strip exchanged for another. I think it came was some old cartoons.

It appeared in my life suddenly and then disappeared for ever – my mother liked to trash toys once my interest was lost – or pass them on to others. My thanks to good friend George Dunbar for this trip back along memory lane,

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