Birmingham Historical Comic Strips -- Birmingham Age-Herald, Original Page

The Age-Herald was the primary morning paper for Birmingham from 1898 (when that name was reborn after a number of mergers and takeovers) until 1944, when a merger with the startup Birmingham Post turned it into the Post-Herald.

Unlike the case with the News, where there was a clear first day when a half-dozen strips that had been scattered around the paper were pulled together to a single page, it's a bit harder to define a clearcut "first comics page" for the Age-Herald. Though the paper had started a color Sunday comics section in the teens, there were almost no daily strips at the dawn of 1920 -- the only thing present was a three-or-four times a week square strip/panel, depending on the artist's whims, by Briggs. In 1922, they picked up The Gumps, a family soap, and Winnie Winkle, the Breadwinner, a working girl soap that started as a copy of Tillie the Toiler. They ran them together on the same page, but at different sizes, and the effect isn't really what you would think of as a comics page.

In December of 1922, they made their first attempt at a comics page. They moved Briggs to the same page as the other two strips and picked up two more strips, Pantomime by J. H. Striebel, from Associated Editors, and Them Days Is Gone Forever by Al Posen, with no syndicate listed. They added Tillie the Toiler in January, but the whole experiment was abandoned a month later, as they dropped everything but The Gumps and Winnie Winkle and scattered those around the paper.

It took until February 16, 1925, before a comics page would come back for good. They picked up several other Chicago Tribune strips and established a consistent printing format that took up about 3/4 of a page, with the following lineup:

The Gumps, Sydney Smith, Chicago Tribune
Little Orphan Annie, Harold Gray, Chicago Tribune
"Winnie Winkle, the Breadwinner", Branner, Chicago Tribune
Gasoline Alley, King, Chicago Tribune
Moon Mullins, Willard, Chicago Tribune
Smitty, none listed, Chicago Tribune

Smitty was actually by Walter Berndt; it didn't last but a few weeks in the Age-Herald, but stuck around the rest of the world for quite a while. In fact, mostly due to picking a lineup entirely of Tribune strips, that's an astonishingly long-lived collection of strips -- the earliest any of them would end was with The Gumps in 1959, and two of them are still running 83 years later.

The Twenties

Last Updated: January 15, 2008