Birmingham Historical Comic Strips -- Birmingham Age-Herald, The Thirties
Unlike the News, which came through the Great Depression in pretty good shape and with a larger comics presence to show for it, the Age-Herald stagnated and regressed during this decade. The paper itself was down to around 16-20 pages a day by 1935, and the number of strips stayed more or less constant for the entire decade.
In May, they dropped Flying to Fame, moving to a single column of comics in the process. In December, they dropped Buck Rogers and replaced it with Tailspin Tommy, another aviation adventure strip. The Buck Rogers drop was an interesting example of trying to publish with insufficient information -- on December 1, they replaced the strip with a blurb stating that the strip had not reached the paper in time, couriers had been dispatched by air mail to catch them up, and multiple days would run to correct the situation. On December 2, an introductory strip of Tailspin Tommy characters ran, and on December 3, TT was joined in progress on the current storyline, with Buck never to be mentioned again. The world used to be a bigger place.
Chaffin and Hal Forrest,The Bell Syndicate
In April, they added C. M. Payne's S'Matter Pop, a precocious-kid-with-more-precocious-father strip, squeezing it into the existing column, and in May they picked up the long-running rural kids panel Toonerville Folks, running it in the opposing column.
S'Matter Pop,C. M. Payne,The Bell Syndicate
Toonerville Folks, Fontaine Fox,Fontaine Fox
In December, all of the Chicago Tribune copyrights changed to the Chicago Tribune-N. Y. News Syndicate. A week later, as the aviation adventure craze died out, they dropped Tailspin Tommy and replaced him with a hard-nosed, square-jawed copper named Dick Tracy.
Dick Tracy,Chester Gould,
Chicago Tribune-N. Y. News Syndicate
In April they picked up the long-running soap Dixie Dugan and moved S'Matter Pop over to a square format in the facing column. In December, the credit for The Gumps changed from Sydney Smith to Gus Edson.
Dixie Dugan,J. P. McEvoy and J. H. Streibel,McNaught Syndicate
1936, 1937, 1938
In March, they added a panel call Off-Side! at the end of the sports section, dropped S'Matter Pop and Toonerville Folks, and replaced them with a return of The Old Home Town and the addition of They'll Do It Every Time.
The Old Home Town,Stanley,King Features Syndicate
They'll Do It Every Time, Jimmy Hatlo,King Features Syndicate
If you've read my comments on the stagnation of the comics page over the last ten years at the News, it's possible that the late '30's doldrums at the Age-Herald may provide a cautionary tale. The paper survived through most of World War II, but a competitor had started up in 1939, and the two merged in 1944, with the Post providing more of the merged look and content than its older counterpart -- in effect, within ten years of going three years with no changes to the comics lineup, the paper was out of business. Obviously, that's too strong a claim for the old cause-effect arrow, but I'd also be nervous about ignoring it as a health indicator.
Last Updated: February 7, 2008