Birmingham Historical Comic Strips -- Birmingham News, The Forties


New Year's Day, 1940, came with the addition of two new panels:

Private Lives, Edwin Cox, none listed
Believe It or Not, Ripley, none listed

These two were initially placed on the comics page, but panels had a sordid history for the decade for the News. Especially after about 1944, they were mostly excluded from the comics page to run elsewhere, usually somewhere in the classifieds, and their presence was somewhat sketchy, to the point where it was hard to tell what the paper was actually running at any given time. I've chosen the end of 1948 as a date for most of them being listed as ending, but on any given date, any of Ripley, These Women!, The Neighbors, Time Out!, or Off the Record might or might not be showing.


In April, Private Lives left to be replaced by Grin and Bear It and These Women!, while Ripley mostly moved off of the comics page:

Grin and Bear It, Lichty, Chicago Times
These Women!, D'Alessio, none listed


In May, Grin and Bear It left to be replaced by The Neighbors:

The Neighbors, George Clark, News Syndicate


In June, Off the Record, a sports panel, began:

Off the Record, Ed Reed, Register and Tribune Syndicate

At the end of September, Dan Dunn, Secret Operative No. 48 was replaced by a new strip from, essentially, the same team named Kerry Drake. Where Dunn had been a Dick Tracy clone, Drake was more of your international man of mystery type, although still in the Tracy mode, and the strip was soapier than most of its ilk. This change was mostly interesting because the credit also changed from the writer to the previously uncredited artist, Alfred Andriola:

Kerry Drake, Alfred Andriola, Publishers Syndicate

In late December, the paper made a big change, for better and worse. The decison was apparently made to carry as many strips as they could fit on the page, so Toots and Casper returned, Barney Google returned as Barney Google and Snuffy Smith, and several strips were added:

Jitter, Arthur Pointer, none listed
Etta Kett, Paul Robinson, King Features Syndicate
Little Annie Rooney, Brandon Walsh, King Features Syndicate
The Phantom, Lee Falk and Ray Moore, none listed

Jitter was an utterly unremarkable gag-a-day strip. Etta Kett was a teen soap that had grown out of a '20's special purpose etiquette strip. Little Annie Rooney was a Little Orphan Annie ripoff. The Phantom was, of course, The Ghost Who Walks.

On the one hand, this was good, since more comics is a good thing. On the other hand, the way that they managed to squeeze that many strips onto the page was to cut the vertical size by about 1/4" of an inch per strip for the most part. That meant that most of the copyright notices were clipped, and, in some cases, the effect on the art was pretty bad.


In November, Mickey Mouse left to be replaced by a working girl soap named Candy, showing that maintaining a specific balance wasn't a big concern:

Candy, Goggin and Sahle, Chicago Times

This Candy is the same character as the Candy from the Archie-style comic book and digest character from the same time period by the same creators, but the daily strip differed in art style and focus in many ways.


Jitter ended in January.


In January, the panels begin seriously rotating off the page, and three more strips piled on in addition to the Ruble panel that was added:

Cokey, Duane Bryers, none listed
Elmo, Cecil Jensen, none listed
Hollywood Johnnie, Renny McElvoy and Jim Pabian, none listed
I See by the Papers, Bill Ruble, Register and Tribune Syndicate

Cokey and Elmo were kid-featuring gag-a-days, while Hollywood Johnnie was a soap.


In February, Cokey and Elmo went away and a Walt Disney panel called Merry Menagerie, featuring a variety of unnamed anthromorphic animals, came in, along with Buz Sawyer and Steve Canyon. In April, Hollywood Johnnie was renamed to Screen Girl, and in September I See by the Papers was renamed to Wilbur. In October, Candy was replaced by another adventure strip named Danny Hale.

Merry Menagerie, Walt Disney, Walt Disney Productions
Steve Canyon, Milton Caniff, none listed
Buz Sawyer, Roy Crane, King Features Syndicate
Danny Hale, Norman Marsh, King Features Syndicate

In November, the author credit for Barney Google and Snuffy Smith was changed from DeBeck to Fred Lasswell. The timing is interesting, since Billy DeBeck had died in 1942.


In April, Screen Girl ended, and Big Chief Wahoo completed its repurposing as Steve Roper. Screen Girl was replaced by They Died with Their Boots On, a historical adventure strip set in the Old Southwest.

In May, Tillie the Toiler left after a 16-year run, along with Etta Kett, Little Annie Rooney, Merry Menagerie and Wilbur. Replacing them were Ozark Ike, an adventure strip about a hillbilly baseball player, Rex Morgan, MD, and Rusty Riley, a Dick Tracy variant.

In October, Ozark Ike went away for a while to be replaced by another adventure name Spud Beazly.

Ozark Ike, Ray Gotto, King Features Syndicate
Spud Beazly, Hy Vance and Bert Harper, Globe Syndicate
They Died with Their Boots On, Clint Bonner, Illustrated Features Syndicate
Rex Morgan, M. D., Dal Curtis, none listed
Rusty Riley, Frank Godwin, none listed


In February, Toots and Casper went away, to be replaced by the return of Ozark Ike. This was a bit odd, since it's the only strip replacement I've seen that happened in mid-week. The Tuesday T&C was in the middle of a story line, and on Wednesday it was gone. In April, Popeye went from having no author listing to being credited to Tom Sims. In June, Spud Beazly went away and wasn't replaced, easing a bit of the space crunch. In November, They Died with Their Boots On was renamed to the subject of its next story line: Big Sam Houston.

The Fifties

Last Updated: August 22, 2007