100 Years Ago: Wash Tubbs Debuts

One hundred years ago one of the greatest adventure comic strips by one of the greatest cartoonists debuted – Washington Tubbs II by Roy Crane first appeared on April 14, 1924.

While the promo above tells us to “Watch For The Adventures” there was no thrilling action at the start.

Don Markstein explains that Washington Tubbs II was gag-a-day comedy:

There weren’t any successful adventure comic strips when Washington Tubbs II debuted on April 14, 1924, unless you count a few satirical melodramas like Hairbreadth Harry and Thimble Theatre. And Wash Tubbs (as the strip was soon renamed) wasn’t an adventure strip either, at that point — it was just a series of gags about a girl-crazy young clerk in a grocery store.

April 14, 1924

April 15, 1924

April 16, 1924

After a couple months Roy Crane introduced some mystery continuity into the strip. By the end of 1924 Wash had become a young world traveler with women still the objective. Getting Wash out of the grocery store improved the strips “ratings.” Putting Wash into dangerous situations also helped, but something was missing.

Back to Markstein:

Wash was a little guy, and not much good in a fight. Crane tried a couple of scrappier sidekicks, March McGargle and Gozy Gallup, before introducing the scrappiest of all, Captain Easy, on May 6, 1929. Easy made a more credible match for big, beefy Bull Dawson, who had been Wash’s arch-enemy since 1926, than any character that had gone before him. Easy was soon an indispensable part of the Tubbs daily strip, and gradually, over a period of decades, became its lead character — as well as the main object of Dawson’s hatred.

May 6, 1929

May 7, 1929

May 8, 1929

And so Wash Tubbs was reborn into the greatest adventure comic strip of the 1930s or any other decade.