See you in the funny papers

A panel from Krazy Kat, by George Herriman

It's been said that the comic strip is one of the few truly original American art forms. Some European aficionados might disagree, but there's no denying that American cartoonists have created a treasure trove of great strips. I've always been more fond of newspaper strips than comic books, and this chronology reflects that fact. It focuses on the evolution of the American newspaper strip, although it includes a few strips whose creators were not American.

1895

The Yellow Kid

Richard Outcault begins drawing Hogan's Alley for Joseph Pulitzer’s New York World, setting the stage for the introduction of The Yellow Kid.

The Little Bears by Jimmy Swinnerton, arguably the first American comic strip, begins running in William Randolph Hearst's San Francisco Examiner. The strip only lasted about four years.

1896

William Randolph Hearst hires Outcault away from Pulitzer to draw The Yellow Kid for the New York Journal American. But Pulitzer, who retained the rights to Hogan's Alley, hired another cartoonist to draw "the kid" for the World, so he appeared in both papers for about a year. 

1897

The Katzenjammer Kids

Rudolph Dirks creates the rebellious Katzenjammer Kids. Over time, competing versions of the strip developed, one of which ran until 1979. The other remained in syndication as of 2013.

1900 

Happy Hooligan

Happy Hooligan (1900-1932), Frederick Burr Opper's strip about a hobo and his two brothers, is born. 

Carl E. Schultze launches Foxy Grandpa.

1902

Buster Brown

Richard Outcault, creator of The Yellow Kid, expands his repertoire with Buster Brown. Competing versions developed, one of which ran until 1911. The other survived at least until 1921. Jimmy Swinnerton introduces Mr. Jack (1902-1935).

1903

Gustave Verbeck's The Upside Downs (1903-1905) and Clare Briggs' A. Piker Clerk (1903-1904) debut. 

1904


Winsor McCay launches both Dream of the Rarebit Fiend (1904-c.1925) and Little Sammy Sneeze (1904-1906).

George McManus begins The Newlyweds, and Jimmy Swinnerton introduces Little Jimmy (1904-1958).

From Frederick Burr Opper comes And Her Name Was Maud.
 
1905

Little Nemo in Slumberland

The fanciful Little Nemo in Slumberland, by Winsor McCay, is launched. It runs intermittently until 1926.

Gustave Verbeck's The Terrors of the Tiny Tads (1905-1914) begins its run.

1906

The Kin-der-Kids

Prominent painter Lyonel Feininger branches out into the comics realm with The Kin-der-Kids (1906-1907) and Wee Willie Winkie's World (1906-1907).

C. W. Kahles premieres Hairbreadth Harry.

1907

Mutt and Jeff

Bud Fisher creates Mutt and Jeff (1907-1982), sometimes described as the first successful daily comic strip.

1910

Desperate Desmond, by Harry Hershfield, is born. It runs until 1914.

George Herriman debuts The Dingbat Family (1910-1916).

1911

Old Doc Yak

Sidney Smith's Old Doc Yak (1911-1917) joins the roster.

1912


Cliff Sterrett introduces Polly and Her Pals (1912-1958).

1913

Krazy Kat

Krazy Kat, created by George Herriman, is launched as a daily strip. It ran until 1944.

Bringing Up Father

The adventures of Irish immigrant Jiggs and his upwardly mobile wife Maggie are featured in Bringing Up Father, by George McManus. The strip survives for 87 years, until 2000.

Fontaine Talbot Fox, Jr.'s Toonerville Folks, which launched in 1908, is in national syndication. It appears in print until 1955.

The list of 1913 newcomers includes Hawkshaw the Detective, by Gus Mager. It ran until 1952, but with a break that lasted for several years.

1914


Abie the Agent,  Harry Hershfield's strip starring a Jewish car salesman, debuts. The strip was suspended for a few years in the 1930s, and was permanently discontinued in 1940.

1915

Boob McNutt

Rube Goldberg introduces Boob McNutt (1915-1934).

Readers get their first look at Merrill Blosser's Freckles and His Friends A long-running strip, it survived until 1971.

1917


Cartoonist Sidney Smith introduces America to The Gumps, a middle-class family. The strip ended its run in 1959.

Gene Byrnes' Reg'lar Fellers (1917-1949) debuts. 

1918


Gasoline Alley by Frank King, the first strip featuring characters who age in real time, gets off the ground. It takes another 40 years, but King wins a Reuben Award in 1958.

1919


Billy DeBeck's Barney Google premieres, but over time, Snuffy Smith gets star billing in the strip. Fred Lasswell, who takes over the strip after DeBeck dies, wins a Reuben Award for it in 1963. 

E. C. Segar introduces Thimble Theater. 

Harold Teen by Carl Ed, a strip about a high-school kid and his pals, hits the funny pages and stays there until 1959. 

1920

Martin Branners Winnie Winkle, a strip about a working woman, debuts. She died in 1996, at 76 years of age.

1921


Russ Westover's Tillie the Toiler (1921-1959) debuts. 

Walt Wallet finds the orphan Skeezix on his doorstep in Gasoline Alley, and takes the infant in.

Gene Ahern creates Our Boarding House. The Sunday strip ended in 1981. The single-panel weekday comic ran until 1984.

1922


Office boy Smitty, a creation of Walter Berndt, begins learning the ropes. Berndt received a Reuben Award many years later. The strip ran until 1973.

J. R. Williams Out Our Way (1922-1977) starts its run. So does Larry Whittington's Fritzi Ritz, which later evolved into Nancy.

1923


Comics fans meet The Nebbs, written by Sol Hess and drawn by Wallace Carlson. Also premiering in 1923 were Frank Willard's Moon Mullins (1923-1991), Ad Carter's Just Kids, and Percy Crosby's Skippy (1923-1945). 

1924

Little Orphan Annie

Harold Gray’s Little Orphan Annie (1924-2010) debuts. 

Roy Crane launches Wash Tubbs (1924-1988), which has been described as the first true action/adventure strip. Also introduced that year was Edgar Martin's Boots and Her Buddies (1924-1969).

1925

Ella Cinders (1925-1961), created by Bill Conselman and Charles Plumb, premieres. 

1927

Connie

Connie, by Frank Godwin, goes into syndication. It runs until 1944.

1928

The year sees the introduction of Tailspin Tommy (1928-1942) and Tim Tyler's Luck (1928-1996).

1929

Popeye

Popeye, created by E.C. Segar, first appears in the Thimble Theater comic strip. 

Buck Rogers in the 25th Century

The year sees the launch of two strips inspired by pulp fiction, Richard Calkins' Buck Rogers in the 25th Century (1929-1967; 1979-1983) and Hal Foster's Tarzan.

Jimmy Hatlo's They'll Do It Every Time starts its lengthy run (1929-2008). Hatlo later wins a Reuben Award. Also new that year: Skyroads (1929-1942), by Lester J. Maitland and Dick Calkins, and Show Girl (later changed to Dixie Dugan), by J. P. McEvoy and John Striebel. It ran until 1966.

1930

Blondie

Chic Young's strip is called Blondie, but her husband Dagwood is the better-known character. Young wins a Reuben Award for the strip. 

Ham Fisher’s kind-hearted boxer, Joe Palooka, premieres. It ran until 1984. Other new strips in 1930: Mickey Mouse (various artists), and Scorchy Smith, by John Terry, which ended its run in 1961.

1931

Dick Tracy

Chester Gould's square-jawed detective, Dick Tracy, begins his crime-fighting career. Decades later, Gould wins a Reuben Award. 

1932

Clarence D. Russell's Pete the Tramp (1932-1963) debuts, along with Napoleon and Uncle Elby, by Clifford McBride. 

1933

Alley Oop

The year ushers in V. T. Hamlin's Alley Oop; Brick Bradford (1933-1987), by William Ritt and Clarence Gray; Milton Caniff's first strip, Dickie Dare (1933-1957); and Zack Mosley's The Adventures of Smilin' Jack (1933-1973).

1934

Li'l Abner

Li'l Abner by Al Capp  introduces readers to the imaginary residents of Dogpatch, Kentucky. Capp later wins a Reuben Award for the strip, which ran until 1977.


Milton Caniff launches Terry and the Pirates (1934-1973; 1995-1997) as a daily strip, followed by a Sunday strip. He later wins a Reuben Award. 


Flash Gordon by Alex Raymond goes into competition with the four-year-old Buck Rogers strip. Raymond also introduces Jungle Jim (1934-1954), and, with Dashiell Hammett, Secret Agent X-9 (1934-1996).

Otto Soglow's The Little King, a picture strip that featured virtually no text, makes the transition from The New Yorker to newspapers. Soglow later wins a Reuben Award for the strip. The strip continued until Soglow's death in 1975.



Lee Falk and Phil Davis introduce Mandrake the Magician. Will Gould's Red Barry (1934-1939) also debuted. 

Carl Anderson's Henry, which had run in the Saturday Evening Post, first appears in newspapers. The strip is retired in 2005.

1935

Smokey Stover

Bill Holman's screwball strip about fireman Smokey Stover begins its run, which continues until 1973. 

1936


Lee Falk’s The Phantom begins as a daily strip; a Sunday strip is introduced three years later. 

Mickey Finn, by Lank Leonard, debuts. It survives for 40 years.

1937

Prince Valiant

Arthurian England and the world beyond come to life in Hal Foster's Prince Valiant. While pursuing his new strip, Foster relinquishes the helm at Tarzan to Burne Hogarth. Foster eventually wins a Reuben Award for Prince Valiant. 


Henning Dahl Mikkelsen debuts Ferd'nand, a pantomime strip. It has a long run before drawing to a close in 2012.

 
1938

Nancy

Ernie Bushmiller's Nancy, the chubby girl with the odd hairdo, gets her own name on an existing strip that she had effectively taken over. Years later, Bushmiller wins a Reuben Award.

Stephen Slesinger and Fred Harman launch Red Ryder, a strip with a western theme. It's syndicated until 1964.

1939

Comic-book superhero Superman first appears in a newspaper strip. 

1940

Brenda Starr, Reporter

Brenda Starr, Reporter (1940-2011), by Dale Messick, and Will Eisner's The Spirit debut in comic-book supplements inserted in newspapers.

1942

Barnaby

Barnaby, created by Crockett Johnson, gets its start. It ran from 1942 to 1952 and was revived from 1960 to 1962.

With America at war, George Baker's Sad Sack debuts. It ran in newspapers until 1957.

1943


Kerry Drake, by Alfred Andriola and Allen Saunders, is launched. The last strip rain in 1983.

Nineteen years after he began Wash Tubbs, Roy Crane introduced another adventure strip, Buz Sawyer, for which he wins a Reuben Award. The Sunday strip ended in 1974, but the daily strip continued until 1989.


Little Iodine, who had previously appeared in another comic strip by Jimmy Hatlo, gets her own strip, which she retained until 1985.
 
1944

Johnny Hazard, an action-adventure strip by Frank Robbins, debuts. It ran until 1977.


1945

The year brings in Bruce Gentry, Ray Bailey's adventure strip. It was a short-lived strip that only lasted until 1951.

1946

Rip Kirby

Alex Raymond, of Flash Gordon fame, debuts Rip Kirby, a detective strip for which he later wins a Reuben Award. The strip almost survived into the 21st century, drawing to a close in 1999.


Ed Dodd introduces Mark Trail, a strip with an outdoor theme.

1947


After retiring from Terry and the Pirates, Milton Caniff launches a new adventure strip, Steve Canyon, for which he wins another Reuben Award. The strip ran until 1988.

1948

Pogo

Walt Kelly’s Pogo debuts in the New York Star. Kelly later wins a Reuben Award for the strip. The strip was discontinued in 1975 and revived in 1989, but the reincarnated strip did not last long.

Dale Curtis launches Rex Morgan,  M.D.

Rusty Riley, by Frank Godwin, makes its debut. It survived barely more than a decade, until 1959.

1949

Warren Tufts launches Casey Ruggles, a western strip that only ran until 1955.

1950
 
Peanuts

Charles Schulz’s Peanuts gang, which had been featured in a 1940s strip called Li'l Folks, is resurrected using its new name. Schulz wins a Reuben Award for the strip five years later, and again in 1964. The strip ran until Feb. 13, 2000, the day after Schulz died, although it survives in reruns.

Beetle Bailey

The U.S. Army will never be the same once Beetle Bailey, Sgt. Snorkel, Gen. Halftrack and the rest of the gang arrive at Camp Swampy. Mort Walker wins a Reuben Award for the strip in 1953. 

1951

Dennis the Menace

Dennis the Menace enters the American lexicon, courtesy of Hank Ketcham, who wins a Reuben Award for the strip. 

1952

Nicholas P. Dallis launches Judge Parker, a soap-opera style comic strip.

1953

The Heart of Juliet Jones, by Stan Drake, appears. It was nearing the half-century mark when it was discontinued in 2000.

1954

 
Four years after he introduced Beetle Bailey, Mort Walker creates and writes Hi and Lois, a strip about the suburban Flagston family, but he leaves the drawing to Dik Browne, who wins a Reuben Award in 1962. Comics trivia: Lois Flagston, maiden name Bailey, is Beetle Bailey's sister. 

Brad Anderson's Marmaduke, a Great Dane, starts romping aross the comics pages. 

1955

Dondi
 

Dondi, an Italian boy orphaned during World War II, comes to America. The final strip ran in 1986.

1956


Jules Feiffer begins publishing a comic strip offering social commentary in The Village Voice. Following various name changes, the strip becomes known as Feiffer. The cartoonist wins the Pulitzer Prize for political cartoons in 1986. 

1957

Andy Capp

Andy Capp, Reg Smythe's drunken creation, begins staggering his way through the comics. 

Actress Mary Perkins, the creation of Leonard Starr, takes to the stage. Starr wins a Reuben Award for the strip several years later. The strip runs until 1979.

Miss Peach

Mell Lazarus sends Miss Peach, a teacher, and her students to school in this strip, for which he wins a Reuben Award. Her students finally graduated and moved on in 2002.


1958
 
B.C.

Johnny Hart launches his caveman (and woman) strip, B.C

Irving Phillips premieres The Strange World of Mr. Mum. It ran until 1974.

Rick O'Shay, Stan Lynde's western strip, goes to print. The strip came to an end in 1981.

1960


Bil Keane introduces newspaper readers to The Family Circus, for which he later wins a Reuben Award. 

1963

Alex Graham introduces Fred Basset who, is the name implies, is a Basset Hound named Fred.

1964

The Wizard of Id

Johnny Hart (B.C.) and Brant Parker team up to create The Wizard of Id. Both later win Reuben Awards. 

1965

Tumbleweeds
T. K. Ryan launches Tumbleweeds, which is retired in 2007.

The Born Loser, by Art Sansom, debuts.

Wee Pals, by Morrie Turner, debuts.

1968

Boner's Ark

Mort Walker unveils Boner's Ark, which finally ended when the ark found land in 2000. 

Bill Hoest premieres The Lockhorns, a single-panel cartoon.

1970

Doonesbury

Garry Trudeau introduces his politically oriented strip Doonesbury, for which Trudeau wins a Pulitzer Prize in 1975 and, later, a Reuben Award. 

Momma

Meddlesome and overly opinionated Momma starts nagging her children in this Mell Lazarus strip.

Jim Lawrence introduces Friday Foster, which had a short run. The final strip appeared in 1974.


Broom Hilda, Russell Myers' strip about a witch, is launched.

1971

Zippy the Pinhead

Bill Griffith's Zippy the Pinhead makes his first appearance.

Ziggy, by Tom Wilson, makes his first newspaper appearance.

1972


Tom Batiuk unveils Funky Winkerbean, a high-school strip.

Bob Thaves' Frank and Ernest, a strip based on puns and wordplay, starts its run.

1973

Hagar the Horrible

Dik Browne, the artist on Hi and Lois, sets Hagar the Horrible, a less-than-fearsome Viking, rampaging through Europe when he isn't stuck at home, fighting with his wife.

Heathcliff the cat, by George Gately, debuts. 

1974

Jeff Millar and Bill Hinds launch Tank McNamara, a sports-themed strip.

1975

Bill Rechin, Don Wilder and Brank Parker team up on Crock. The strip ended in 2012.

1976

Cathy

Cathy Lee Guisewite introduces the neurotic Cathy, for which Guisewite wins a Reuben Award. The final strip ran in 2010.

1977

Shoe

The Treetops Tattler-Tribune, a newspaper staffed by birds, is the setting of Shoe by Jeff MacNelly, for which he later wins a Reuben Award. 

1978

Garfield

There are other cats in the comics, but probably none as famous as Garfield, for which Jim Davis wins a Reuben Award. 

1979
 
For Better or For Worse

The Pattersons, a Canadian family, begin entertaining readers in Lynn Johnston's For Better or For Worse, for which she wins a Reuben Award. The strip consisted of new material until 2008, and then combined new and old material until 2010, when it was discontinued.

Kevin Fagan introduces Drabble
 
1980

Bloom County

Opus the penguin, Milo Bloom and the rest of the cast begin cavorting through Bloom County, thanks to cartoonist Berkeley Breathed, who wins a Pulitzer Prize seven years later. Breathed retired the strip in 1989.

The Far Side

Gary Larson's wacky single-panel comic The Far Side begins exploring Larson's unique view of the world, for which he wins a Reuben Award. The strip ended in 1995.

1981

Sylvia

Sylvia, by Nicole Hollander, begins its run as a daily newspaper strip.

Doug Marlette unveils Kudzu, a strip about rural Southerners. It ran until 2007.

1983

Pat Brady introduces Rose and Jimbo Gumbo, their son Pasquale and family cat Peekaboo in Rose is Rose, for which he wins a Reuben Award. 

1984

Mother Goose and Grimm

Mother Goose and Grimm, starring anthropomorphic animals, begins romping its way through the comics. Several years later, Mike Peters wins a Reuben Award for the strip. 

Brian Basset launches Adam, later renamed Adam@Home.

1985

Calvin and Hobbes

The adventures of a young boy and his stuffed tiger get underway in Bill Watterson's Calvin and Hobbes, for which Watterson receives two Reuben Awards. Watterson retired the strip in 1995, after a 10-year run.

Luann DeGroot stars in Greg Evans high-school strip Luann, for which Evans later wins a Reuben Award.

Arlo and Janis
Jimmy Johnson launches Arlo and Janis, a domestic strip about the married couple for whom the strip is named, their son Gene and their cat Ludwig.

Jim Meddick's Monty, (originally called Robotman), is born.

1987

Tom Batiuk and Chuck Ayers introduce Crankshaft

1988
 
Fox Trot

Bill Amend's Fox Trot debuts. Amend later wins a Reuben Award for the strip.

One Big Happy, by Rick Detorie, starts its run.

1989

Dilbert

Corporate life in America is soundly ridiculed in Scott Adams' Dilbert, named after the major character in the strip. In 1997, Adams wins a Reuben Award for the strip. 

After retiring Bloom County, Berkeley Breathed launches Outland, which he drops in 1995.

1990


Brian Crane introduces Pickles, a strip about a retired couple.
 

Writer Jerry Scott and cartoonist Rick Kirkman team up on Baby Blues, a family strip.

Stone Soup, by Jan Eliot, starts life as a weekly, but later becomes a daily strip. 

1991


Jim Toomey introduces Sherman's Lagoon.

1992

Mallard Fillmore

Mallard Fillmore, Bruce Tinsley's politically conservative duck, starts his newspaper run and gets picked up for syndication two years later.

Wiley Miller launches Non Sequitur.

1994
 
Mutts

A dog named Earl and Mooch the cat star in Patrick McDonnell's Mutts. Five years later, McDonnell wins a Reuben Award. 

Dave Coverly launches Speed Bump,  a single-panel cartoon for which he wins a Reuben Award in 2009.

Maakies, a weekly strip by Tony Millionaire, debuts.

1995

Rhymes with Orange

Hilary B. Price unveils Rhymes with Orange

The year marks the premiere of Over the Hedge, a strip by Michael Fry and T. Lewis about wild animals trying to live in suburbia. 

1997

Zits

Writer Jerry Scott and cartoonist Jim Borgman join forces to create Zits, a strip about the travails of high schooler Jeremy Duncan. In 2001, Scott wins a Reuben Award for Zits and Baby Blues.

Liberty Meadows, by Frank Cho, goes into newspaper syndication. Cho ceased newspaper syndication of the strip at the end of 2001 and subsequently published it in comic-book format for a time.

1999

Get Fuzzy

Frazzled ad exec Rob Wilco rides herd over his two pets, Bucky Katt and Satchel Pooch, in Darby Conley's Get Fuzzy.

Aaron McGruder's Boondocks, featuring a 10-year-old African-American kid named Huey Freeman, goes into national syndication, but it is discontinued in 2006. 

2000

Pooch Cafe

Poncho, a cat-hating pup with strange ears, makes his debut in Paul Gilligan's Pooch Cafe.

Another pup, Rover, also makes his debut in Brian Basset's Red and Rover

2001


Frazz

School janitor Edwin "Frazz" Frazier interacts with wisecracking students in Jef Mallett's Frazz. 

Anthropomorphic animals cavort in Stephan Pastis' Pearls Before Swine. 

The Other Coast, by Adrian Raeside, goes into syndication.

2003

Opus

Berkeley Breathed begins yet another comic strip, Opus, but calls it quits in 2008. 

2005

Dog eat Doug, by Brian Anderson, premieres.

2006


Lio
Mark Tatulli unveils Lio, a pantomime strip.

2007


Cul de Sac, Richard Thompson's strip about  four-year-old Alice Otterloop and her family and friends, goes into syndication. Thompson discontinued the strip in September, 2012, because of health problems.
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The information presented here comes from various sources, including Wikipedia; "Masters of American Comics," edited by John Carlin, Paul Karasik, and Brian Walker; "100 Years of American Newspaper Comics," edited by Maurice Horn; and Don Markstein's Toonopedia.