100 Years Ago: Skippy by Percy L. Crosby

Percy Crosby was born in 1891 and was working and cartooning for newspapers before he was out of his teens. His twenties saw him succeed in contributing cartoons and comic strips to magazines and newspapers. WWI interrupted the career. After The War to End All Wars Crosby reestablished himself as a cartoonist and illustrator. One of his specialty subjects being children of the poor and working classes.

Among his clients was Life magazine which was trying to reinvent itself from the old, passe, humor magazine of the past to a new modern sophisticated magazine. Percy cartoons were a part of that, popular with the readers and the magazine’s management. So when Crosby suggested turning his kid cartoons into a regular full page comic strip it didn’t take much to convince publisher Charles Dana Gibson and editor Robert E. Sherwood to approve the idea.

In the March 15, 1923 issue of Life Skippy made his first appearance in a full page announcement and ad.

page capture by way of Filboid Studge

The following week in the Life magazine dated March 22, 1923 the first Skippy strip appeared.

above image from Wikipedia via HathiTrust Digital Library

Skippy became a very popular weekly feature, and Percy Crosby retained the copyright!

That enabled Crosby to take his character into a different market two years later.

On June 22, 1925 Skippy debuted as a daily syndicated newspaper comic strip, a Sunday page was added on October 17, 1926. (GoComics has been running the daily strip from the beginning since 1912.)

When The San Francisco Examiner outbid The Oakland Tribune for territorial rights to the Sunday Skippy page the newspaper across the bay assured their readers that the daily Skippy comic strip would remain in The Tribune.

From The Comic Journal:

Cartoonist Percy Crosby has long been acknowledged as one of the great early cartoonists, both for his precision draftsmanship and as the first cartoonist to place philosophical ideas into the mouths of children. Crosby’s “Skippy” was, of course, a major inspiration for Charles Schulz’s “Peanuts.” But Crosby’s life before and after “Skippy” was remarkable, as I’ve learned from Jared Gardner’s introduction to Percy Crosby’s Skippy Volume 1: Complete Dailies 1925-1927, edited by Gardner and Dean Mullaney

The syndicated Skippy comic strip ran until December 8, 1945.

I was introduced to Skippy by Jerry Robinson and Holt, Rinehart and Winston.

If you prefer your comics between hardcovers Skippy Inc. and The Library of American Comics are there for you.

4 thoughts on “100 Years Ago: Skippy by Percy L. Crosby

  1. I’d love to see a look at how the original owner’s of Skippy peanut butter took the rights away from Crosby and destroyed him, sending him to an early death in a sanitarium.

    1. Skippy Peanut Butter is still made, originally by Best Foods, then Unilever, and now it’s made by Hormel.

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