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Mutt & Jeff celebrates 100 years

Mutt & Jeff have just crossed over the centurion mark for a comic strip. The original feature by Bud Fisher included only Mutt and debuted in the San Francisco Chronicle in late 1907. He later added Jeff in March of 1908. According to Wikipedia, Mutt & Jeff may be the first daily comic strip.

Over the years, Bud had assistants work on the feature including Krazy Kat creator George Herriman and Maurice Sendak, a high school student at the time who went on to write “Where the Wild Things Are.”

The feature still appears in more than 50 daily and Sunday papers, according to Universal Press.

Community Comments

#1 Larry Levine
April/2/2008
@ 7:55 am

I tip my hat to Bud Fisher and to Al Smith, Ed Mack, George Breisacher & all the great cartoonists who also drew “Mutt & Jeff” over the past century!

#2 Allan Holtz
April/2/2008
@ 1:58 pm

The Wikipedia elves are wrong. The Importance of Mr. Peewee was the first daily strip, predating the also quite important A. Mutt by 4 years.

#3 Garey Mckee
April/2/2008
@ 4:03 pm

I can’t stand it when people cite Wikipedia as a reference source. It is not at all a valid reference. Any shmoe can enter any information he like no matter how erroneous. If you want to back a piece of information up, please for the love of God, crack open a real encyclopedia and cite the facts from a varified source.

Sorry, off topic I know. It’s just a pet peeve. LOL.

#4 Steven rowe
April/2/2008
@ 4:21 pm

Maurice Sendak worked for All-America comics doing production on and adding lines to the reprints of Mutt and Jeff. this was around the summer of 1944. To say he was assistant to Fisher, is to stretch it a bit…..

#5 josh shalek
April/3/2008
@ 10:14 am

Wow, I admit I’ve never seen this comic before. The early strips do look like Herriman’s handywork. I really enjoy the style of that time. Long-limbed characters with either:
1. funny moustaches
2. funny hats

#6 Wiley Miller
April/3/2008
@ 11:01 am

“I canâ??t stand it when people cite Wikipedia as a reference source. It is not at all a valid reference.”

I share that same peeve, Garey. Drives me crazy.

#7 Dawn Douglass
April/3/2008
@ 11:29 am

Is there a lot of detail about Mutt and Jeff in the Encyclopedia Britannica?

For all it’s faults, Wikipedia at least tries to stay up-to-minute, instead of a decade behind, AND they are MUCH more democratic, inclusive and expansive in their coverage of topics.

It’s also misleading to say “Any shmoe can enter any information he like no matter how erroneous.” There are normally many different experts on any topic, and if something is wrong, somebody else will correct it eventually.

So instead of just bad-mouthing Alan for using a source of information that millions and millions of people get a lot of benefit from, Garey why don’t you become one of the “shmoes” and correct what you believe to be in error?

#8 Larry Levine
April/3/2008
@ 11:54 am

A good source for interesting first hand Bud Fisher/Mutt & Jeff information is Jud Hurd’s book “To Cartooning..Sixty Years of Magic”.

#9 Lucas Turnbloom
April/3/2008
@ 11:57 am

Umm. Allow me to cut some tension by interjecting a random thought:

A mustache is just a beard, for your nose.

Think about it.

#10 Lucas Turnbloom
April/3/2008
@ 12:02 pm

“Allow me to cut some tension by interjecting with a random thought:”

Wow, that was poorly phrased. Sorry.

#11 Kelly Ferguson
April/3/2008
@ 12:16 pm

According to Wikipedia, a mustache is actually a hat for your upper lip.

#12 Garey Mckee
April/3/2008
@ 2:01 pm

Sorry Dawn, I still completely disagree, and I stand by my statement that any shmoe can write any erroneous information on Wikipedia making it unrealiable at best. “Somebody” will correct it? That’s still not a researched and valid source. If you want valid reference sources for comics, Stephen Rowe mentioned Maurice Sendak, who edited Horn’s Encyclopedia of Comics. That’s a great resource especially for older comics, of which I think Mutt and Jeff qualifies.

And I will continue to bad mouth anyone who cites Wikipedia as a source. Although, I would never bad mouth Alan in general, only when he mentions something from Wikipedia. LOL.

#13 Kevin Moore
April/3/2008
@ 2:21 pm

100 years! Congrats to the zombie strip! Long may you crave brains!

#14 Charles Brubaker
April/3/2008
@ 2:42 pm

Kevin,

Fortunately, the zombie was shot down, with the final strip published in 1982, after running in newspapers for 75 years.

#15 Garey Mckee
April/3/2008
@ 2:57 pm

Wow. I have to apologize. Obviously Maurice Horn edited Maurice Horn’s Encyclodedia of Comics. This week on DUH…

You would have thought I had gotten that off wikipedia. LOL

#16 Wiley Miller
April/3/2008
@ 3:26 pm

About a year or so ago, one of my daughters told me I was on Wikipedia, so I went to take a look and found a lot of errors. I didn’t know how to correct them, and I haven’t gone back there since to see what’s on it now. Just a waste of time. Whenever I see, “according to Wikipedia…” in a sentece, I pretty much dismiss whatever the person is saying. I need a more solid reference than that……

#17 John Cole
April/3/2008
@ 3:48 pm

Y’mean that thing about you winning the Nobel Prize for Bar Cartooning was bogus? God, if we can’t trust the Internet …

Wiley — editing out Wiki’s errors is very easy. Just click the “edit this page” tab and have at it (which of course is both the blessing and curse of the site).

You probably should make the corrections. God knows who actually will take as gospel what they read there about you. True story: A few years ago some wag inserted a note about a non-existant Italian monk and botanist named Giacomo Tiramisunelli into an article about tomatos. The Wiki article was corrected, but not before other sites started citing Tiramisunelli’s contributions to tomato horticulture.

#18 Dawn Douglass
April/3/2008
@ 7:42 pm

Citing Wikipedia is no different from citing any other source of information within the context that Alan used.

How is “According to Wikipedia,…” any different from saying “According to Gary McKee,…” or “According to Wiley Miller,…”

Alan didn’t say that Mutt & Jeff was the first daily comic strip because Wikipedia said so.

This is a BLOG; we’re not writing a book or even a college term paper here. Footnotes are not required to converse on a blog and neither is looking up everything you want to say in an encyclopedia.

Yes, if you’re making a specific point as fact, then you need a source that is above reproach, but Wikipedia is fine the way Alan used it here.

#19 Clay
April/3/2008
@ 8:35 pm

I have to jump in on the Wikipedia poop parade. To say the information will be corrected by someone still doesn’t make it reliable. Who is this person correcting it? And to say just correct it yourself doesn’t work either. What if you’re there to research something, not write about it? What if you don’t know what the correct information is and merely wanted to gain knowledge from the site?

I do read wikipedia to gain information about bands, songs and albums…but that’s just for entertainment. I don’t trust everything I see there.

#20 Dawn Douglass
April/4/2008
@ 2:10 am

I don’t trust everything I see anywhere.

As for “that’s just for entertainment.” What’s Mutt & Jeff? Certainly not life or death.

#21 g. brian reynolds
April/4/2008
@ 5:17 am

I guess I thought originally that there were some busy little hands employed by Wikipedia writing everything you saw there – like a published dictionary or an encyclopedia, so I figured it had to be at least semi-accurate.

I have come to know that this isn’t the case. The information comes from without and all they do is provide a place to present it. Fans can write biographies – and get it wrong. Unfortunately, many times, once it’s in print, it’s “fact”. So if you find something in there about yourself, it’s probably a good idea to in and fix it.

Accurate or not, Wikipedia seems to be a lot of people’s first choice for information and it pops up at the top of a Google search, too.

#22 Rick Stromoski
April/4/2008
@ 5:18 am

There’s a standing policy in my daughter’s school that Wikipedia should never be used as a source since it’s unreliable. They even went to the trouble to send home a bulletin about it

#23 John Cole
April/4/2008
@ 5:21 am

I don’t trust anywhere near everything I read and see. Shadows dancing on cave walls and all that.

Anyway, Clay: YOU know Wiki’s often full of it. WILEY knows Wiki’s often full of it. I know Wiki’s often full of it.

However, lots of others evidently are less skeptical and will accept what they read there. So it behooves you to make a correction if you spot what you know to be an error, especially if that error involves you.

#24 Dawn Douglass
April/4/2008
@ 6:09 am

Guess you can’t even believe what you read at the Smithonian. :)
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,345488,00.html

#25 Dawn Douglass
April/4/2008
@ 6:13 am

or HERE! Ha! I meant Smithsonian.

Fabulous place. Just goes to show that no resource is ever perfect, though I readily admit that some are better than others.

I do think Wikipedia has its place, you just have to understand what it is and what it isn’t.

#26 Rick Stromoski
April/4/2008
@ 7:02 am

Ahhh…Fox News….that great bastion of knowledge, accuracy and unbiased reporting.A “Fair” and “balanced” source of information at it’s best.

#27 Clay
April/4/2008
@ 10:20 am

John, No one has made a wiki page about me yet so I don’t have that problem. I would love to be famous enough to at least have false info trotted about.
A lot of people aren’t aware of what wiki actually is. I wasn’t either until Colbert did a spoof on it where he edited his entry on his show. It’s pretty bad when I get my information from the Colbert Report.

#28 Anne Hambrock
April/4/2008
@ 11:12 am

I think wiki is a terrible source for any statement that needs to have journalistic integrity. The Daily Cartoonist is evolving from a blog into a journalistic entity and so there may be less room now for a source like Wikipedia. While Wiki has a lot of interesting info, I put it more in the category of hearsay.

#29 Dawn Douglass
April/4/2008
@ 11:51 am

Hey, Alan, you’re a journalist now! Congratulations on getting all that responsibilty with none of the financial compensation.

Between your “grateful” readers’ expectations and demands of you and their insensitive comments like “Good Mormon America” and other LDS slurs I’ve seen here (Alan, your host, is a Mormon, People!), sometimes I have to wonder why you even do this blog.

#30 Alan Gardner
April/4/2008
@ 12:04 pm

I do too, Dawn, somedays, I do too. But not because of any slurs, mostly the lack financial benefit. :)

#31 Anne Hambrock
April/4/2008
@ 12:28 pm

I come to this site, not for the commentary – though I enjoy that very much, but I can get that on any comics forum – but predominanly for the industry news that Alan prints. I have great regard for his reporting (because that’s what he’s doing) and I never question the validity of his posts. He gathers a lot of information from a lot of different sources within the industry and puts them in one convenient site the same way the quarterly magazine for harpists that I subscribe to does.

Journalism is defined by how the job is done, not how the person doing it is compensated or even if he is at all. If we’re going to use finances to measure journalistic validity, then every little free independant newspaper in this country isn’t journalism. In Alan’s survey I clicked how much I would pay monthly to subscribe to this blog because I believe there should be some financial compensation coming his way. I was merely trying to point out that this site is evolving. Take it how you will.

#32 Dawn Douglass
April/4/2008
@ 12:34 pm

Okay, but I really don’t see any difference between this blog today and when Alan started.

#33 Rick Stromoski
April/4/2008
@ 12:38 pm

I don’t think anyone was going after Alan personally at all on this although it seems someone may have read into the comments some intent that isn’t there. I think the primary emphasis was that Wikipedia is not a reliable source. I’m not sure how that slurs Alan but it seems a molehill here has been elevated to mountainous status…..

#34 Rick Stromoski
April/4/2008
@ 1:08 pm

Here are some other talented Mormons

#35 Alan Gardner
April/4/2008
@ 1:20 pm

I’m not taking any of this personally, and despite the lack of financial benefits, I enjoy providing this forum for you all to discuss engaging cartooning topics like the validity of wikipedia. :)

Seriously, thanks Anne, and others for recognizing what I try to provide to the community.

#36 Dawn Douglass
April/4/2008
@ 1:47 pm

Alan, what you need is sponsors. If I were you, I’d go to the Republican and Democratic Parties and try to tap into the huge bucks being spent on the campaigns.

There are people in both parties whose job it is to get out their messages, and they look for high quality ad inventory. I’d bet either or both parties would be particularly interested in the readership here, since cartoonists can in turn sway others. You just need to make phone calls till you find the right person.

Of course, these sponsorships wouldn’t be permanent, but you could leverage them into other ones. The hardest sponsor to get is the first one.

Email me with you readership numbers and I can tell you how much you should try for on a monthly basis.

#37 Rich Diesslin
April/4/2008
@ 1:59 pm

When I was in school and we had to turn in a research papyrus (or stone slab) we weren’t allowed to use an encyclopedia as a source (e.g. World Book) … something about wanting us to go to the sources that were used by them or that somehow a book is more accurate than a compilation. So I’m not surprised by school not allowing use of the wikipedia … I’m wondering if they can now use the World Book or Grolier’s. That would have saved sooo much time ! Wikipedia is a quick source that’s reasonable to use, if done carefully. For something like this, does it really matter?

Anyway, a very silly discussion overall. Mutt and Jeff are duly offended for not being the subject of the conversation.

#38 Garey Mckee
April/4/2008
@ 2:02 pm

Alan, I wasn’t attacking you personally at all or what you do here. I was just mentioning my peeve about wikipedia. Rich is right, here it really doesn’t matter. I didn’t mean to start such a ruckus.

#39 Pab Sungenis
April/4/2008
@ 2:53 pm

An encyclopedia is only good for one thing as a research tool: to offer you a bibliography for a starting point for your own research.

This is why I gave up law and went into broadcasting.

#40 Jeff Hawley
April/4/2008
@ 4:41 pm

I love ‘Mutt and Jeff’ and can’t resist sharing on this thread some of the lore I gleaned from the book ‘The Comics Before 1945’ by Brian Walker. Walker states, in regard to the strip, ‘Mr. A. Mutt Starts in to Play the Races’: “from this simple beginning, the first successful daily comic strip was born.” (Note: don’t confuse this statement with meaning it was the first comic strip. Walker uses the qualification of “daily”, which refers to the fact there were other strips in the papers, but they were printed now and then throughout the week, not daily.) Interestingly, the name of the strip did not become ‘Mutt and Jeff’ until Sept. 1916. But there’s another thing to remember about Bud Fisher, and that is he was the first cartoonist to successfully establish ownership of his creation. By copyrighting his work and standing up against those who wanted to seize ownership from him, he kept control of his strip against the likes of Wm Randolph Hearst, and later won in three court cases involving the Star Company and the Wheeler syndicate, who were trying to take over the strip. In 1921, one of those cases even went to the US Supreme Court, which threw out the appeal, so Fisher won there, too, and he was granted exclusive rights to his creation and legal protection against imitations. Hail to thee, Bud Fisher! And happy 100th Anniversary, Mutt and Jeff!

#41 Anne Hambrock
April/4/2008
@ 7:10 pm

“research papyrus”

LOL, I think mine were done on linotype!

#42 Rich Diesslin
April/5/2008
@ 2:20 am

Pab – how true, LOL about broadcasting; Jeff, very interesting (and claim very close to the wikipedia speculation); Anne – ah yes, linotype!

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