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Joe Martin, A Boffo Cartoonist

“My 50,000 comics would be at least 50 novels and 60 TV episodes worth of dialogue,” declares the syndicated illustrator whose Mr. Boffo and Willy ‘n Ethel appear in newspapers throughout the U.S.

Martin was already declared the most prolific published cartoonist ever in 2001 by the publishers of The Guinness Book of World Records, so he has more than doubled his output between his debut with Tucker, a strip about a man running an employment agency, as Martin did at the time, and the turn of the century. But even with the single-to-two panel nature of Martin’s current two features in their Monday through Saturday iterations, how does one mind remain so fertile with verbal gags for consumption on the funnies pages? 

“It just seems to work on instinct,” Martin observes of his creativity.

A year ago Joe Martin ended his Cats With Hands comic strip becoming semi-retired,
continuing with only two seven day a week comic strips – Mr. Boffo and Willy ‘n’ Ethel.

Milwaukee’s alternative paper, the Shepherd Express, profiles the prolific cartoonist and interviews him about plans to fill his spare time.

“I will be doing a podcast soon…”


all images © Joe Martin

hat tip to Visual Humor for some of the above strips.

Community Comments

#1 Philip Taterczynski
March/15/2021
@ 4:20 pm

I don’t know how many other of Mr. Martin’s readers communicated with him, but he was very responsive to me on the occasions I wrote to him, sometimes to comment on one of his strips, and more than once to offer ideas for him to use. When he did so, although he did not acknowledge the contribution in print, he was kind and gracious enough to send me the original drawing for the particular comic which used my suggestion. In my study, I have a small gallery of framed Joe Martin originals, each of which is signed with a personal note of thanks.

His replies were always upbeat and kindly worded; I felt honored each time I saw a suggestion get into print. I’m sure I am not the only one of his fans who personally found out what a great guy he is.

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