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Comic Strip Rarity: The O’Kays by Jay Kay

In 1948 Jerry Keefe, an advertising and commercial artist, decided, like so many before and since, to become a world-famous comic strip cartoonist. Jerry claimed that he was “reluctant to become entangled with the big city syndicates.” So Keefe tried self-syndicating his weekly comic strip.


© the estate  of Jerry Keefe

The O’Kays by “Jay Kay” debuted in at least three weekly newspapers during the week of May 17, 1948 – The Hancock County News and The Chattahoochee Valley Times began running the strip on Wednesday May 19, and The Tri-County News on Friday May 21.

 

The strips are not dated nor are they numbered at the beginning, but below was the first strip printed  by most of the papers that took on the comic strip (even those that took it on later in the year).

The strip was a family strip with the husband, as was and is common, the Rodney Dangerfield type. A bit of a doofus who gets little respect from anyone. The strip takes place almost completely at the O’Kay residence with Corny being the focus of the gags.

A baby (son) was introduced within the first year.

Jerry tells of the hows and whys of the strip:

 

The Tri-County News, who you will remember started carrying it with the first week, ran it until June 9, 1950. That was #104 (before 1948 ended the strip started being numbered) which is the last number found in the series.

On June 16, 1950 The Tri-County News ran a notice:

But the strip never returned.

 

During these years Jerry Keefe also offered one panel gag cartoons to papers.


© the estate of Jerry Keefe

These “Gags” are even rarer than “The O’Kays.”

 

Jerry would continue his successful advertising career. His main claim to fame would be commercial work with The Chicago Bears as cover artist for dozens of their programs from 1943 to 1961.


© The Chicago Bears

But that is a story for someone else to tell.
That someone would be Jeff Berckes for the Windy City Gridiron. Jeff documents Jerry’s relationship with George Halas and Da Bears while giving the most detailed profile of cartoonist Jerry Keefe.

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