Comic Chronicles: All In The Family

I was recently reminded that Allan Holtz’s annotations to George McManus’s Bringing Up Father (Forever Nuts edition) was put on the internet for all to read, and that the remarks remain available.

There are many things going on in these nearly century-old Bringing Up Father comic strips which may be incomprehensible to the average reader of today. Why is Jiggs so inexplicably fond of steel buckets? Who is John McGraw? What’s a dickey? What was the Gas House Gang? As much as we enjoy the wonderful art of George McManus, and are curious about the birth of his greatest strip, some of this material can be annoyingly enigmatic without knowledge of the context in which these strips were originally conceived.

These annotations are not meant to be dry history lessons, but rather present a hopefully fun and interesting snapshot of the times.

#41 (1/24/14): Fancy dress shirts in 1914 often did not include buttons. Instead there were eyelets along the placket in which studs (buttons with clasps on the back) could be inserted. Shirt studs were similar in design to cufflinks.

#42 (1/29/14): McManus seems to have been quite the deadline-chaser in these days. You may have noticed strips in which word balloons have been sloppily corrected, have misspellings or are missing whole words. In this strip McManus outdoes himself. Apparently he ran out of time before he had a chance to draw in the background. Not even a line to indicate the floor has been included!

Allan’s notes are dated from the original east coast Hearst newspaper while my images
come from Hearst’s west coast newspaper – accounting for the inconsistent dating.

Even without the strips the notations make for an interesting, educational, and fun read.


Nearly 100 years ago the Kegels used comics as part of an ad campaign for the family business.

Recently, Kegel – John and Anna’s great-grandson – who bought the business a few years ago with his wife Stephanie, uncovered some historical gems.

“We purchased the building in October and we’re going through old stuff in the basement and stumbled into a treasure trove of our heritage,” Kegel says. “Old photographs took most of my attention until I found this old comic.”

It turns out a couple generations later, in the 1970s, a Kegel descendant owned another business and also used comics as an advertising tool.

A Believe It or Not story of discovery.


Frank Miller sketch noticed in film.

Not that Frank Miller.

Not that Frank Miller either.

Still not the right Frank Miller, though we’re getting closer (see Larry Rippee’s comment below).

Yeah, that Frank Miller.

Sharp-eyed viewers of the documentary movie “Storm Lake” that was broadcast Nov. 15 on PBS noticed a large cartoon behind Art Cullen’s desk.

The 21×26 inch sketch was drawn by Frank Miller, the great Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist at the Des Moines Register from 1953-1983.

“There was something in the film that gave me quite a surprise,” Robin wrote us. “On the wall in your office is a large original Frank Miller cartoon of an old lady yelling ‘OUT!’ Do you know the origin of that cartoon?

Turns out they did know about that cartoon and a couple others.


Back to George McManus. Here is George and a few colleagues.

2 thoughts on “Comic Chronicles: All In The Family

  1. Nice to see the acknowledgement of Frank Miller (and of course, Frank Miller and Frank Miller) but what about Frank Miller?

    He was staff illustrator-cartoonist for the Kansas City Star for over 40 years.

    (Miller 1887-1979 was also the father of Des Moines Register Frank Miller).

    Thanks for the always great Daily Cartoonist

  2. I am embarrassed to admit that if I ever knew of that Kansas City Star cartoonist he had completely slipped my befuddled brain.
    But I have now added him to the roll call above. Thanks Larry.

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