Blog: comic strips

Comic Strip History: I Hate Mondays

Big George, September 30, 1968

As a kid, I was a big fan of the Garfield comic strip. As I've gotten older, read more Garfield, and learned more about the creator of Garfield, Jim Davis, I became less and less enamored with the strip and now see it as generally very boring and repetitive. One of the recurring jokes in Garfield, and the one that recurs the most often, has to do with the fact that Garfield hates Mondays. This is an absurd idea because, as a cat, Garfield doesn't really have any concept of a weekend, or a work week, or any of that, so there's no reason for him to be so hateful of Mondays in particular. That's what makes it funny, I guess. Jim Davis took it a step further, however, and gave Garfield a reason to hate Mondays, as bad things continued to happen to him on that day and that day only. The worst day of all was, of course, Monday the 13th, it being inherently unlucky due to being a Monday, as well as having an unlucky number as the date. As a kid who grew up in the 90s, I figured this was a thing that Jim Davis cam…


Comic Strip History - Keeping Up With The Joneses

Keeping up With The Joneses

Here's one that surprised even me, and one which comes with a little bit of uncertainty that I hope to clear up.

I was, in fact, quite uncertain about this myself when I first started researching it. I have been aware for many years that there was a comic strip called Keeping Up With The Joneses, created by Arthur Momand, that first appeared sometime between 1913 and 1916. The strip revolved around the McGinis family, who were always trying to one-up their wealthy neighbors, the Joneses. The Jones family never appeared in the strip, of course. They were merely referred to by the McGinises constantly, usually in reference to how jealous they would be if they saw what one of the McGinises had purchased or done. According to Momand, this was inspired by his experiences after he moved to New York, and he and his wife's attempts to not be shown up by their wealthy neighbors. He realized how futile it was to do so, and wrote a comic strip to satirize this. The Jones name was, according to him, chosen due to how…


Unexpected Comic Strip Creators: Jack Kirby

Sometimes researching a creator is difficult, not because of the lack of information, but because of the overwhelming wealth of it. Over his lifetime, Jack Kirby produced an incredibly large body of work, which includes co-creating most of the well-known Marvel Comics characters, such as Captain America, the Fantastic Four, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man, Thor, and the X-Men, as well as quite a few not nearly as well known DC Comics characters, including The Guardian, the Newsboy Legion, The Demon, and all the New Gods characters of the Fourth World. Because of this, there has been quite a bit written over the years about the man and his work, and it takes quite a long time to sort through. It's especially difficult when what you're looking for is information about his lesser-known work in newspaper comic strips, and when much of that was work for an obscure syndicate called Lincoln Newspaper Features that we'd probably know absolutely nothing about had Kirby not worked for them. This information is important…


Comic Strip History: The Teddy Bear

"Drawing the Line in Mississippi"

While I've previously written about political cartoons coining political words, like Gerrymander and McCarthyism, it isn't the only kind of word that political cartoons have been known to originate. Oddly enough, not only have political cartoonists gone on to create children's toys, but in the case of the teddy bear, a cartoonist was the inspiration for a toy craze that continues to this day.

In 1902, President Theodore Roosevelt, known to most as "Teddy," travelled to Mississippi to settle a border dispute between that state and Louisiana. As a gesture of goodwill, and knowing the president's love of hunting wild game, the governor of Mississippi organized a black bear hunt. It lasted for a few days, but during that time Roosevelt was unable to find any bears himself. The hunting guides had been tracking a bear cub with their dogs for two days, and were finally able to catch and restrain it. Since the president hadn't been able to find any himself, and they wanted him to have a successful hunt, they brou…


Comic Strip History: McCarthyism

Herblock's McCarthyism cartoon

As we've seen with the Gerrymander, it seems that words coined in relation to politics have incredible staying power, especially when describing things that politicians continue to do. Associating an image with a word, as is done with political cartoons, also helps to cement it in people's minds. It also helps a great deal if the word refers to a particular well-known person. Such is the case with another political buzzword, McCarthyism.

While for some the word only brings to mind a particular time and place, it's still used by many today to describe certain undesirable political tactics. It generally refers to a political attack or character assassination of a political rival by means of wild, unsubstantiated claims about them. The man who lent his name to the word was Republican senator Joseph McCarthy of Wisconsin, who in the 1950s claimed to have an extensive list of people in the US government who were communist infiltrators. This led to large scale investigations of his claim, which never bore any f…