The Invention of Sunday Comics

In the beginning, during the 1920’s,  the Sunday comics were all about talking animal, cartoon like characters, like Felix the Cat, and Crazy Kat.  They were mostly for the amusement of the children of the subscriber’s of the paper. THERE WERE NO ADVERTISEMENTS IN THE SUNDAY COMIC SECTIONS.

Joe Neebe was a Vice President of the Campbell Ewald Advertising Agency in Chicago. His job was to sell advertising in newspapers and magazines.  He did a great deal of work with the Palenski and Young Art Studio on Michigan Avenue.  The studio provided him with art work for ads for his many clients like, Popular Mechanics Magazine, the Canadian National Railway, and the Canadian Royal Mounted Police. He worked closely with Hal Foster, the then top commercial artist in Chicago, on these projects.

Joe Neebe had an idea. What if a heroic police-like character were put into the Sunday comics with adventures every week ?  It would be the only adventure strip among the kiddie cartoons.  The hero would fight crime in exotic places and get into trouble in the last panel. The reader would have to buy next week’s paper to see how the hero extricates himself from the impossible situation he was in.

He reasoned that if the hero was both attractive and masculine , both men and women would follow the strip, bringing in a whole new audience and increase circulation. He could then sell ads to the adults in the comics section.

Where could he find an already well known hero, and who could produce the high level of art work that would differentiate the panels from the childlike cartoon characters now in the Sunday papers ?

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