19 August 2014

Sunday Funnies Addendum

In last Friday’s guest blog post, My Brother Manny, Miriam Biskin wrote about fighting with her brother for first dibs on the Sunday funnies. Sunday newspapers used to have--and many still do have--a page or two or even a full section of comic strips (aka, Sunday funnies or funny pages). Several comic strips Miriam and Manny read in the 1930s are still around today, which makes them very special.

Rudolph Dirks’ Katzenjammer Kids comic strip first appeared in 1897 in William Randolph Hearst's New York Journal. Dirks was the first to show dialogue with speech balloons. The strip is now drawn by Hy Eisman, who also draws Popeye, and is distributed by King Features Syndicate, a unit of the Hearst Corp.

The Katzenjammer Kids postage stamp is one of 20 issued by the US Postal Service in 1995 to commemorate Comic Strip Classics created before 1950.
Gasoline Alley, the second-longest running comic strip in the US, was launched by Frank King in 1918. The strip is now written and drawn by Jim Scancarelli and distributed by Tribune Media Services (“Gracenote” since June 2014).
The Sunday, 24 August 1930, Gasoline Alley comic strip and enlarged final panel by Frank King. (Strip from theperiodicfable.wordpress.com/comics-index-of-multi-panel-pans-by-decade/1930s-multi-panel-pans)
Although the Popeye comic strip didn’t actually appear until the 1970s, Popeye joined the ensemble in Elzie C. Segar’s Thimble Theatre comic strip in 1929 and soon became its primary character. Bud Sagendorf now does the daily strips, Hy Eisman does the Sunday strips and King Features Syndicate is the distributor.
Popeye’s introduction–the first 3 of 6 panels of Thimble Theatre comic strip from Tuesday, 1 Jan 1929. (Panels from pd56.org/popeye)
Created by Chic Young and distributed by King Features Syndicate, the comic strip Blondie has been around since 1930. Chic Young’s son Dean has written the strip since 1973, collaborating with different artists, most recently, John Marshall.
Blondie Boopadoop was a single, live-it-up flapper in her comic strip Blondie until she met and married Dagwood in 1933. (Panel from www.loc.gov/exhibits/blondie/images/bl-image.gif)
The Dick Tracy comic strip by Chester Gould debuted on 4 Oct 1931, introducing violence to the Sunday comics. The strip is currently written by Mike Curtis, drawn by Joe Staton and distributed by Tribune Media Services (“Gracenote” since June 2014) and is available on www.gocomics.com.
First 2 of 4 panel Dick Tracy comic strip from Friday, 18 Dec 1931. (Panels from www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2005677334)
Ernie Bushmiller introduced the character Nancy, when she moved in with her Aunt Fritzi in the comic strip Fritzi Ritz, which began in 1922. In 1938, he renamed the strip, Nancy. Originally distributed by United Feature Syndicate, Nancy is now written and drawn by Gary Gilchrist and can be found on www.gocomics.com.
Nancy appears in the Fritzi Ritz comic strip of Monday, 2 Jan 1933. (Strip from nancyeverysunday.blogspot.com/2013/02/introducing-nancy-ritz_3.html)
Hal Foster created the Prince Valiant comic strip in 1937, while working on the Tarzan comic strip, which he began in 1931. The strip is currently written by Mark Schultz, drawn by Thomas Yeates and distributed by King Features Syndicate to over 300 newspapers in the US.
Prince Valiant comic strip panel from Sunday, 19 June 1938. (Panel from mydelineatedlife.blogspot.com/2012/08/battle-cry.html)
For completeness, I wanted to identify other comic strips you might know that were being read in the 1930s but didn’t make it to the present. Though I had a hard time determining if some were still being produced or just reprinted, this should be close: Bringing Up Father, aka Jiggs and Maggie (1913-2000), Moon Mullins (1923-1991), Little Orphan Annie (1924-2010), Tarzan (1931-ca 2000, when reprints began), Henry (1932-ca 2005, when “classics” began), Flash Gordon (1934-2003), Mandrake the Magician (1934-2002), Li’l Abner (1934-1977) and Superman (1939-1966). In case you’re wondering, Pogo didn’t begin until 1948 and Peanuts, 1950.


Wikipedia is a useful resource for comic strips in general and for each strip featured here. Also of interest:
Comic Strip Classics postage stamps:

Katzenjammer Kids:
Gasoline Alley:
Dick Tracy:
Prince Valiant:


  1. My mother would have loved this post. She was a huge comic strip fan. She and I read Dr Rex Morgan for years and years and had many a long conversation about the plot.
    Thanks for the memories.

  2. You're most welcome. Every now and then I tried to get into Rex Morgan MD, but as you know better than I, you really had to follow it regularly to know what was going on. (It's not in our local paper.)