Comic Art 02 Oct 2007 07:14 am

The Gumps I

- The Gumps was the first comic strip to tell a running story. Like a serial the strip continued on a daily basis from 1917 through 1957. The story was particularly compelling; readers grew addicted to it, like a soap opera. In 1923, the Board of Trade in Minneapolis suspended operations so that the brokers could get the afternoon paper to find out whether the Gumps’ billionaire Uncle Bim had been trapped in marriage. When Mary Gold died in 1929, it was the first time a cartoon character died in a strip, and the Chicago Tribune was swamped with mail and phone calls with people threatening to cancel their subscriptions to the paper if she wasn’t brought back.

An Editor of the Chicago Tribune, Joseph Patterson, came up with the idea of having a strip that reflected the stories of “real” people. He didn’t want a daily gag with this strip and hired Sidney Smith to develop such a strip. Patterson came up with the title, “The Gumps” and brought some story ideas to Smith to develop.

It was the first strip to make its creator, Sidney Smith, a millionaire. It was that popular, and they promoted the contract. He drew the strip until his death in 1935. Smith had just signed a new three year contract and went out to celebrate. He died in a car crash.

The strip went on to a couple of assistants who worked with Smith, Stanley Link and Blair Walliser. However, for reasons hard to understand now, it was Gus Edson, a staff artist for the New York News, who continued the strip into the 50′s. (Edson was later one of the creators of the strip, Dondi, also created with an appealing, continuous story.)

The story being everything, I thought I’d introduce the strip here with a number of panels to give you a taste, and then I’ll follow through once a week with more chunks of the story for those interested. Believe me it’s a compelling story, well told, and even the drawing style becomes pleasant as you get into it. So here are the first strips.

{Click any image to enlarge to be able to read it.)

________________________________________________To be continued.

2 Responses to “The Gumps I”

  1. on 03 Oct 2007 at 11:37 am 1.Eddie Fitzgerald said …

    Wow! Some great cartooning here! Andy is tall and lanky yet somehow there’s always room for a dense block of dialogue above his head.

  2. on 03 Oct 2007 at 11:47 am 2.Michael said …

    I absoulutely love this strip. Believe me, the story line gets great as it goes on. It becomes an addiction.

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