Fantasy Comics Page of the Obscure

We decided to do something a bit different in putting together this Washington’s Birthday “fantasy comics page” — we imagined a small-town newspaper that populated its comics page with low-circulation, largely-unknown comic strips. What would that look like? We picked fifty years ago — February 21, 1972 — and looked to see how we could fill that bill. We think we did a decent job!

Here’s a bit of background on the series you’ll see below:

  • Nubbin was written by Jim Burnett and drawn in the 1970s by the prolific Henry Boltinoff (the strips Hocus Focus and Stoker the Broker; a wide range of work at DC Comics). It ran through the mid-1980s.
  • Frank Roberge was wrapping up a fifteen-year run with Mrs. Fitz in 1972.
  • Figments was a whimsical strip by Dale Hale, a former assistant to Charles (Peanuts) Schulz.
  • What was the perfect response to the widespread unrest in U.S. colleges and universities from the tag-end of the 1960s through the middle of the 1970s? Of course — a gag-a-day comics strip! Larry Lewis’s Campus Clatter stepped up to show the lighter side of the academic life.
  • Mr. Abernathy may not fully qualify as “largely-unknown,” since it ran in several hundred papers at its peak and survived through five decades (1950s-1990s) — but it’s such a quiet and unassuming comic, it makes only the gentlest of impressions.
  • Frank Ridgeway, who wrote Mr. Abernathy, briefly did double duty on the short-lived Lancelot. The series, which he scripted under the pseudonym “Penn,” was drawn by Paul Coker. Like Mrs. Fitz, it would suspend publication in 1972; unlike Mrs. Fitz, it ran a scant three years from its launch in 1970.
  • Finally, Dick Cavalli followed in the footsteps of cartoonists ranging from Percy Crosby to Sparky Schulz to Bud Blake with his kid-focused strip, Winthrop.

(Click each strip to enjoy at a larger size.)

May the gentle laughs of the strips featured below make your second half of February a little brighter and warm!

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