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Comic Strip Rarity: Willy Muffit

Fame came to cartoonist Bill Brewer early, winning a national contest for college cartoonists
judged by Groucho Marx, Steve Allen, and Al Capp.

Bill then began a career as a commercial cartoonist but, like all cartoonists sixty years ago, the dream was to match fame with fortune as a syndicated comic strip creator. His 1961 attempt didn’t quite get him there as it lasted only 16 weeks.

That less than four month run did rate Bill and Clyde an entry as an Allan Holtz Obscurity of the Day. Seven years later Bill created another comic strip but this one was for his local newspaper not syndicated nationally, making it rarer than the obscure Clyde.


Willy Muffit began on June 17, 1968 (above) in the Costa Mesa Daily News and the various editions of the paper that informed surrounding Orange Coast communities. It was a daily strip appearing six times a week, Monday through Saturday. Right from the beginning the newspaper had a problem with the title of the strip, spelling it two different ways in its introductory blurb and continuing that practice through the entire run. No matter how it was spelled the titular pun remained.

I have settled on “Muffit” because of the one strip where Bill used the name in the comic:

This being 1968, the Summer after The Summer of Love, hippies/flower children/longhairs were a topic for comics – especially local ones.

It wasn’t just Bill. Phil Interlandi was supplying the same papers with a weekly panel called Lagunagrins, a rarity for another day, who also used the younger freaks as a frequent source for humor.


Lagunagrins © Phil Interlandi

I will point out that Interlandi, in 1968 was a middle-aged 44, while Brewer was a decade younger being born in 1936 – which still put him in an untrustworthy over 30 age bracket.

Back to Willy Muffit…

This time Bill’s comic strip lasted only six weeks ending with the Saturday, July 27, 1968 issue (below), though they did rerun a July strip on Saturday, August 3 for some reason.

I found Willy more engaging than the earlier Clyde though they are similar characters.




Bill Brewer would have a very successful career as an illustrator of greeting cards and other outlets.
For example:

Bill has been nominated for the National Cartoonists Society’s divisional Reuben for Greeting Cards several times and won the award for his efforts in 2000.

all art © Bill Brewer except where noted


Update

Bob’s comment (see below) prompted me to take a second look at the Willy Muffit run.
Upon a more deliberate study I have found a pattern to the title changes.

During the first week of the strip (June 17-22) it was titled “Willy Muffitt.” Beginning the second week a pattern emerged that continued through the end of the run. The strips that ran Monday through Friday were headed “Willie Muffet,” while the Saturday strip was titled “Willy Muffitt.” That regularity seems a deliberate conspiracy twixt the creator, editor, and typesetter.

At no time was the strip labeled “Willy Muffit.” That title only appeared in the header of the introductory blurb shown above. As noted in the comments here the character was repeatedly (and only) called “Willy” in the strip. and the single reference to his surname in the strip is “Muffit.” So, until I hear different from the creator I will continue to call it “Willy Muffit.”

source: The Newport Beach Public Library

Community Comments

#1 Bob Crittenden
January/19/2021
@ 1:10 pm

“I have settled on “Muffit” because of the one strip where Bill used the name in the comic”

Respectfully, by the same logic, shouldn’t you have used “Willy” instead of “Willie”?

#2 D. D. Degg
January/19/2021
@ 1:21 pm

You are right.
I was so focused on one spell check I missed the other.
Adjustments made.

#3 D. D. Degg
January/22/2021
@ 8:45 pm

Bob, you prompted me to take a second look at Willy Muffit, I have added an update to the entry.

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