I’m on my way out to Columbus for the American Association of Editorial Cartoonists convention and CXC, so was trying to come up with a post I could do in advance. DD Degg’s marking of Dick Tracy’s first strip, December 4, 1931, reminded me of how many great cartoons were running in newspapers back then.
So here is a selection of Sunday funnies from that date, with notes from Toonopedia and Lambiek Comiclopedia. They’re a pair of valuable historical information, and highly infectious places to poke around.
Blondie was still a single girl, and that isn’t Dagwood.
In 1931, Chic Young had just handed over his strip Dumb Dora to Paul Fung so he could focus on Blondie. The term was already in parlance, but the strip made it much more popular.
Elmer was popular, but cartoonist Doc Winner had a far more varied career.
Gasoline Alley is famous for moving more-or-less in real time. In 1931, Skeezix was still a kid.
The saga of the Katzenjammer Kids is a tangle between an original artist and a syndicate that refused to let him leave, as well as a study in the limits of artistic ownership. At this stage, the important thing to keep straight is that “The Captain and the Kids” was the work of Rudolf Dirks, who had created, then lost, the Katzenjammers.
A major strip, George McManus’s Bringing Up Father was the story of an unrepentant blue-collar Mick who struck it rich, and his lace-curtain Irish wife who wanted nothing to do with her own working-class roots or her husband’s rough-edged pals.
Mutt and Jeff creator Bud Fisher was, like McManus, one of the cartoonists who became a celebrity for his work.
As Toonopedia says, Polly and her Pals “became the template for Boots & Her Buddies, Fritzi Ritz and a host of other strips about pretty girls and their flirty adventures.”
Percy Crosby’s Skippy was a fabulously popular strip in its day, but its history has since been dominated by Crosby’s daughter’s crusade to prove that Skippy Peanut Butter made unfair use of the strip’s name and font design.
Fontaine Fox’s Toonerville Folks inspired kids’ rides of the famous trolley at a number of amusement parks.
Winnie Winkle the Breadwinner put a popular face on working women, in a strip that was mostly a continuity strip about her difficulties, but, as seen here, had its light moments as well.
Gotta catch a plane. Stay tuned for AAEC/CXC coverage here in the days to come.