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Classic Funnies

By Charles Apple The Spokesman-Review

Civilizations come and go. Politicians come and go. Poets and authors and TV actors come and go.

Comic strips come and go, too. The biggest difference between them and the others, perhaps:

Comic strips are fondly remembered.

Neither Richard F. Outcault nor his newspaper — Joseph Pulitzer’s New York World — thought to copyright his creation, “The Yellow Kid.” When Outcault was hired away by William Randolph Hearst’s New York Journal, the World simply hired a cartoonist to continue the feature. For a while, both papers used “The Yellow Kid” to pull in readers. This is the origin of the term “yellow journalism.”

“The Katzenjammer Kids” artist Rudolph Dirks left the strip in 1914, moved to a new syndicate and began drawing an identical strip called “the Captain and the Kids,” which ran through 1979. The old strip continued with the original writer, Harold Knerr. It ended in 2006 but continues in syndication today in reruns.

The longest-running comic strip still running in the U.S., “Gasoline Alley” will celebrate its 101st birthday in November.

First appeared in a strip called “Thumble Theater” in 1929. That strip would be renamed “Popeye” in the 1970s.

“Steve Canyon” creator Milton Caniff walked away from his popular comic strip “Terry and the Pirates” to create one for which he could own the publishing rights. The Chicago Tribune New York News syndicate hired a new team to continue “Terry and the Pirates.”

Started out as a college-themed strip. Creator Mort Walker had Beetle enlist in 1951.

“Peanuts” creator Charles Schulz died in 2000, but many papers run his beloved strip via reruns.

“Bloom County” was renamed “Outland” in 1989. In 2003, creater Berkeley Breathed would reboot it as “Opus.” He ended it in 2008 but posts new cartoons on Facebook.


Sources: “Masters of American Comics” by the Hammer Museum and the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art; “America’s Great Comic-Strip Artists by Richard Marschall; the National Cartoonists Society; “The Comics: An illustrated History of Comic Strip Art” by Jerry Robinson; “Meanwhile...” by R.C. Harvey; “Schulz and Peanuts: A Biography,” by David Michaelis; “The Best of Pogo” by Selby Kelly and Bill Crouch Jr.; Lil-Abner.com; “Flashbacks” by G.B. Trudeau; “ The Celebrated Cases of Dick Tracy” by Chester Gould; “The Essential Calvin & Hobbes” by Bill Watterson; “The Prehistory of The Far Side” by Gary Larson; “Classics of Western Literature” by Berkeley Breathed; “The World on Sunday,” by Nicholson Baker and Margaret Brentano; Time magazine; Complex.com; TodaysInspiration.com; InfoPlease.com; the Comics Journal