Unexpected Comic Strip Creators: Lyonel Feininger

The Kin-Der-Kids

I have always maintained, and will always maintain, that comic strips of any era can be considered fine art. There's nothing that separates the art that you see in the newspaper and the art that you see in a museum apart from one being in a frame and one being in print. I feel this opinion of mine is bolstered by the fact there are those who are considered fine artists who also created newspaper comic strips.

Lyonel Feininger certainly deserves the label of fine artist. Born in New York, he was sent to Germany at 16 to study music, but ended up studying art instead. He studied at various art schools in Berlin and Paris. He was affiliated with several German Expressionist groups, including the famous Blue Four, which included himself, Paul Klee, Wassilly Kandinsky, and Alexej von Jawlensky. He helped found the Bauhaus school and was the only person to teach there from its inception all the way until it was forced to close. He worked in several different media, including oil, woodcut, charcoal, and ink, in…

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Unexpected Comic Strip Creators: David Lynch

The Angriest Dog in the World

This one might more appropriately be filed under "Unexpected comic strips," as it's a bit of a strange one. While nothing that David Lynch does is necessarily expected, a newspaper comic strip is not the first thing one would imagine a surrealist film and television director might do. Even then, if one tried to imagine of what kind of comic strip said surrealist film and television director might create, I don't think it's likely anything like The Angriest Dog in the World would come to mind.

David Lynch is best known for his movies such as "Eraserhead," "The Elephant Man," "Dune," "Blue Velvet," "Mulholland Drive," and others, as well as his television series "Twin Peaks." Before venturing into film, he originally wanted to be a painter. As such, his films were supposed to be paintings come to life, if such a thing is possible.

In 1983, he decided, for reasons known only to Lynch, to create a comic strip that featured a dog who, according to the caption which accompanied every strip, "...is so angry he…

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Unexpected Comic Strip Creators: Dr. Seuss

Hejji, by Dr. Seuss

To be fair, this one isn't quite as unexpected as the last three, but the newspaper comic strip he created is obscure enough that I thought it was important to cover.

Dr. Seuss is, of course, mainly known for his work in children's literature, but much like Johnny Gruelle he got his start in cartooning and illustration. He began as a magazine cartoonist, and his cartoons first appeared in the Saturday Evening Post and in the humor publication Judge. He also did quite a few advertising illustrations for Standard Oil, NBC, General Electric, and others. His first book, "And To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street," was published in 1937. He did quite a lot of political cartooning during World War II, and after the war he would begin his children's book career in earnest. However, in between all of this, for a period of less than a year, he wrote and illustrated a mostly forgotten newspaper comic strip called "Hejji."

Unfortunately, there isn't a lot written about Hejji anywhere, either on the internet or…

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Unexpected Comic Strip Creators: Johnny Gruelle

Mr. Twee Deedle, Dolly, and Dickie

This one is a bit different from the previous two unexpected creators, because whereas those two were already famous for other things before becoming involved in comic strips, Johnny Gruelle became famous for something else after he had already been working in comic strips for quite a while.

Gruelle is most famous for creating the children's toys Raggedy Ann and Andy, as well as writing and illustrating storybooks to go along with them. He also wrote and illustrated quite a few other children's books that were not related to Raggedy Ann, including a couple collections of fairy tales. Raggedy Ann was created and patented as a doll in 1915, and she first appeared in Gruelle's books and illustrations in 1918. Andy didn't come along until 1920. Previous to this, however, Gruelle had quite the career as a newspaper cartoonist.

Starting in 1903, he worked at the Indianapolis Star doing political cartoons and caricatures. Around this time he also began work at a couple of newspaper syndicates, the World Color P…

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Unexpected Comic Strip Creators - Zane Grey

King of the Royal Mounted

The story of our next unexpected comic strip creator will probably sound similar in many ways to the one I wrote about Dashiell Hammett. In fact, this post would more appropriately be called "Unexpected Comic Strip Bylines", because although Zane Grey was involved in the production of a comic strip for a short while, his name was used to promote it, as well as other products, for quite a long time after he left.

Zane Grey was best known for writing western novels which generally depicted a romanticized version of the Old West, with larger than life cowboy heroes and noble but savage Native Americans. His books were extremely popular, influenced many writers after him, and were adapted into all different types of media, including radio, film, television, and a comic strip. The comic strip began in 1932, and began as an adaptation of his most popular novel, "Riders of the Purple Sage." Seven of his novels were adapted over the course of its two year run, and while Grey himself did not write any of the words…

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