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Comic Chronicles: Comic Strip Stories

Comic Book Resources offers up
Star Wars: 10 Things You Never Knew About The 1979-1984 Newspaper Strips.

The countdown starts with the little known fact that:

Archie Goodwin and Al Williamson first proposed the idea for a newspaper strip. With Goodwin as the writer and Williamson on art, the two had worked on the newspaper strip Secret Agent Corrigan for 13 years. They pitched the adaptation of the original Star Wars film in the strip format but never produced anything more than the 12 black-and-white samples.

The 12 proposed strips by Goodwin and Williamson; © Disney

I do have a couple quibbles with the list:

“The strip, distributed by the Los Angeles Times Syndicate and Watertown Daily Times…”

I don’t know why a newspaper that carried the strip is said to be in partnership with the L. A. Times Syndicate to distribute the feature.


“Marvel hired writer/artist Russ Manning to produce both the daily installments and the Sunday strip…”

I don’t think Marvel had anything to do with the comic strip. It would be the L. A. Times Syndicate and a very hands-on George Lucas.

Doubts remain.


The bottom of that CBR page links to an earlier fact sheet about
10 Things We Never Knew About The Spider-man Comic Strip.

© Marvel Entertainment

Again I have a minor protest.

The Amazing Spider-Man strip debuted on January 3, 1977 and was first syndicated by the Register and Tribune Syndicate until 1985, before moving to Cowles Media Company in 1986, and King Features Syndicate, where it remained for the rest of the run.”

Saying the strip moved from the Register and Tribune Syndicate to Cowles Syndicate is like saying Doonesbury moved from Universal Press Syndicate to Universal Uclick to Andrews McMeel Syndication. It’s the same company renamed as is the Reg & Trib and Cowles.


“Dennis in the Christmas City – Bethlehem Pennsylvania”

WFMZ has an article about Dennis the Menace visiting Bethlehem, Pennsylvania in one of Dennis’ Christmas comic books.


The idea to put his creation in Bethlehem at Christmas was not one that Ketcham would have come to on his own. Starting in 1955 he had artists that created several special issues that put Dennis and his family in places like Yellowstone National Park and Washington, D.C. But the inspiration for the Bethlehem issue came from Frederick Toole, one of the humor writers for the series that was illustrated by Ketcham. Toole was a native of the Christmas City, as was his wife, Mary “Mollie” Groman.

Although Toole and his wife lived in California, they had close contacts with their Bethlehem relations. Their family’s history with the city went back to Gottfried Schultz, who was among the early Moravian settlers, arriving before 1750.

The article with background on Hank Ketcham and Fred O’Toole here.

© North America Syndicate


Marshall Ramsey interviews Jane’s World creator Paige Braddock.

After moving around the country and attending 17 schools (!),  [Paige] earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville in 1985. Early in her career she worked as an illustrator for several newspapers, including The Orlando Sentinel, The Chicago Tribune, and The Atlanta Constitution. Braddock began crafting her long-standing comic, Jane’s World, in 1991.

After a 20-year run, Braddock stepped away decided to end the strip. But her book Love Letters to Jane’s World recently won her the Mississippi Library Association’s Mississippi Writer’s Fiction Award. Paige attended elementary school in Wiggins, Mississippi.

In 1999, Braddock assumed the position of Chief Creative Officer and in this role is charged with overseeing the visual and editorial direction for all Peanuts licensed products worldwide.

Watch the 50 minute interview can be viewed here.


The Oswald Hardware Co.

© Hardware Retailer Magazine

Oswald is not an uplifting name. Russ Johnson, who created the character and named him Oswald, thought the name suggested a rather dumb person. Well, maybe not “dumb” exactly, but probably unsophisticated, a little frumpy, perhaps with a somewhat one-track mind.

[H]e loved the character. Or, rather, he loved cartooning, and Mister Oswald enabled him to pursue his affair. And so he did—for six decades.

Starting in October 1927, Johnson drew Mister Oswald unassisted for 62 years, which prompted some aficionados to claim that the strip was the longest-running comic strip produced by a single individual in the history of the medium.

Unhappily, another comic strip has a claim to exactly the same record: Australian cartoonist Jim Russell has entered the Guinness Book of Records for drawing the same comic strip singlehandedly without any assistance for a period of over 62 years.

R. C. Harvey, for The Comics Journal, details (Bob always details)
the life of Russ Johnson and his comic strip creation Mr. Oswald.

R.C. fits in a list of …

In terms of longevity, the top ten American-originated comic strips are as follows (all were drawn, at one time or another, by different cartoonists; unless otherwise noted, all the strips are still being published with new material)—:

The Katzenjammer Kids (started in 1897), a weekly strip, has run for 125 years
Gasoline Alley (1918), daily and Sunday; 103 years
Barney Google and Snuffy Smith (continuous since 1919); 102 years
Thimble Theater/Popeye (continuous since 1919); 102 years
Blondie (1930), daily and Sunday; 91 years
Dick Tracy (1930), daily and Sunday; 91 years
Alley Oop (continuous since 1932); 89 years
Annie (1924 as Little Orphan Annie), daily and Sunday, ending 2010; 86 years
Prince Valiant (1937), Sunday only; 84 years
Brenda Starr (1940), daily and Sunday, ending in January 2011; 71 years
—a tie with Beetle Bailey (1950), daily and Sunday; 71 years

The “American-originated comic strips” designation drops The Weatherbird (1901) and Ripley’s Believe It or Not (1918) and Australia’s Ginger Meggs (1920) from the list, but next year we’ll celebrate 100 years of the Fritzi Ritz/Nancy comic strip. That should put it at #5 on the list.


The Unsung Black Heroes of Comic Strips

The Panels and Prose blog has recently featured a couple stories about the Black press and comic strips.

© respective copyright owners

Newspapers by and for predominantly Black audiences were a thriving part of the American press throughout much of the 20th Century in most major cities, even if they have been woefully invisible to most media history. More obscure have been the comic strips and their artists that appeared in many of these major newspapers like the Chicago Defender, Atlanta World and Pittsburgh Courier.

Earlier this year a small treasure fell into my lap courtesy of Library of American Comics head Dean Mullaney. During an email exchange about the possibility of reprinting Black cartoonists he sent me this pristine rendering of a rare surviving 8-page color comics section syndicated by the Smith-Mann company and appearing in the Pittsburgh Courier for Nov. 11, 1950.

The essay on the Smith-Mann syndicated comic supplement.

Also a hero was Patty-Jo who bravely voiced opinions that needed to be heard.

© the estate of Jackie Ormes (?)

The article on Jackie Ormes and her comic creations.

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