New York City newspaper strikes were and are a predictable factor of the New York City labor situation. In the modern era, after several earlier strikes, there was the two week long 1899 Newsboy's Strike against Joseph Pulitzer, publisher of the New York World, and William Randolph Hearst, publisher of the New York Journal. The strike lasted from July 21 to August 2. This strike struck such a cultural chord that it inspired both Simon & Kirby's Newsboy Legion for National in Star Spangled Comics #7 (April, 1942) as well as the Disney film Newsies in 1992 (and the 2012-2014 Broadway production).
The famous 17 day Newspaper Strike of 1945 from June 30 to July 16 is notable in that 7 daily papers went down as 1700 delivery men walked out. All 7 papers were still actually published and sold out of their plant factories, causing massive lines all around the city as readers waited for as long as two hours in snaking, block-long lines, to get their favorite papers. Wonderful to us is the history that New York City mayor Fiorello LaGuardia read the newspaper comics over the radio, going so far as to do all the sound effects necessary in Chester Gould's Dick Tracy strip on Sundays.
Of course I already covered the 88 day 1978 New York City Newspaper Strike of August 10 to November 5, HERE.
The strike that precipitated the exclamation at the start of this article was the devastating 114 day Strike of 1962-63, from December 8, 1962 to March 31, 1963. I say devastating because the aftermath of the intense labor dispute between the publishers and typographers had the unprecedented consequence of ultimately dooming four of the eight New York daily newspapers. When the work-stoppage ended on March 31, 1963, the strike losses compounded the already existing financial hardships and took down the New York Daily Mirror on October 16, 1963. The New York Daily News bought the Mirror's name and good will, with several of the Mirror's successful comics strips jumping over to the News, including Al Capp's Li'l Abner, Harry Hanan's Louie, and Kerry Drake.
In addition to the Mirror in 1963, the lasting effects of the strike took down in April, 1966, the New York World Telegram, New York Sun, New York Journal-American and the New York Herald Tribune, several of which attempted mergers to stave off the end, but ultimately unsuccessful. The proposed mergers set off another strike that doomed all 4 papers.
This left only The New York Times, The New York Post and The New York Daily News. The Times carried no comics, the Post didn't have a Sunday edition and the sole remaining color Sunday comics section in New York City, by mid 1966, belonged to the New York Daily News.
Now let's get back to the end of the 1962-63 strike. By my calculations, the stoppage bookends 12/8/62 to 3/31/63, and took out 17 color Sunday sections that did not get published. (As I related in my last post HERE, Sunday comics sections were prepared and shipped to newsstands in advance and I was able to procure the Sunday August 13th section that post-dated the 1978 strike by 3 days. So it's not impossible that the first Sunday section of the strike exists)
Looking at the date involved, the strike ended on Sunday, March 31, 1963. Below I will present in its entirety, the very first Sunday section following that strike. But there are problems.
- The Sunday Comics section is not dated anywhere.
- The section is short by at least a third, only the top features were published
- Nearly all of the features concern themselves with the newspaper strike!
At the bottom of the page is another Martin Branner feature, the humor strip Looie. Looie was soon gone and shortly the News received another, differently spelled Louie from The Mirror, the classic pantomime strip by Harry Hannan. Looie was possibly a revival of sorts of one of Branner's earliest features for the Bell Syndicate in 1919, Looie The Lawyer.
Neither of the above Branner features mention the Strike or newspapers in any way.
Page 3: Terry And The Pirates by George Wunder (Chicago Tribune Syndicate)
The first incarnation of this classic strip was launched in 1934 by the great Milton Caniff. The feature was one of the most celebrated of its time and Caniff's style the inspiration of scores of adventure strip and comic book artists for decades to come. Caniff would leave the feature at the end of 1946 due to creative and control differences with the syndicate and launch Steve Canyon in January of 1947. George Wunder replaced Canniff on Terry, continuing on until February 25, 1973. The Sunday News carried the feature until the month before its demise, January 1973.
This installment does mention newspapers, including the 8th panel with an image of the New York Daily News, and a mention of "it's like being without the papers" in panel 6, a deliberate strike reference.
Page 4: Brenda Starr Reporter by Dale Messick (Chicago Tribune Syndicate)
Launched in 1940, this very popular feature ran until January of 2011, with Messick retiring from the art chores in 1980, and full relinquishing in 1982. Ramona Fradon was the second artist on the feature until being replaced by June Brigman in 1995.
This one is easy! A full page montage of the newspaper strike being over!
Page 5: Beany by Frank Johnson (Chicago Tribune Syndicate)
Frank Johnson was an assistant to Mort Walker who ghosted on Beetle Bailey, Hi and Lois, and a long run Boner's Ark, both credited and uncredited. According to online sources, Beany incorrectly is credited to have run from 1968 to 1974. As this is 1963, we know the 1968 reference is incorrect. Beany ran sporadically in the Sunday news, usually running vertically against a 3/4 page ad (as seen here), only when ad pages ran (which was not every week). It would alternate with Tweety-Pie by Roy Fox (not the bird!). Beany ran as late as 1979, last seen in the Sunday News Comics on August 19, 1979. Given the incorrect start date in the references, the end date of 1974 is likely incorrect also. Either that or the News ran reprints.
This Beany installment does not mention the strike nor anything about newspapers.
Smitty by Walter Berndt (Chicago Tribune Syndicate)
Pottsy by Jay Irving (Irving Joel Rafsky) (Chicago Tribune-News Syndicate)
Walter Berndt's Smitty ran 51 years between 1922 and 1973, ending its New York Daily News Sunday run on March 7, 1971.
Jay Irving's Pottsy ran from 1955 to 1970, ending upon Irving's sudden death. Pottsy continued to appear in the Sunday News for about 2 months before Irving's inventory ran out.
Both Smitty and Pottsy installments below dealt with the end of the newspaper strike.
Page 7: Moon Mullins by Ferd Johnson (Chicago Tribune Syndicate)
The strip below as well as the "topper" Kitty Higgins by Johnson, do not deal with the strike or newspapers.
Smilin' Jack by Jack Mosley (Chicago Tribune Syndicate)
Smokey Stover by Bill Hollman (Chicago Tribune Syndicate)
Smokey Stover by Bill Hollman ran from 1935 to his retirement in 1973, last seen the New York Daily News Sunday section in September, 1972 (as did his topper Spooky). This entry did not reference the newspaper strike in any way. I have a brief connection to Hollman in that his wife was one of my first patients back in the day.
Little Orphan Annie by Harold Gray (Chicago Tribune Syndicate)
The strip below makes a reference to Annie's paper route, which may or not be a strike influenced comment.
Launched in 1946 by Hal Rassmusson, Roy Fox took over the feature in 1962 upon Rasmusson's death. It appeared sporadically as an emergency filler until it's last New York Daily News Sunday appearance on June 18, 1972, with a title shortened to just Aggie. (It's previous appearance was on December 26, 1971!) Fox had another infrequently appearing strip called Tweety-Pie that similarly ran as a filler, last appearing In the daily News Sunday section dated February 25, 1979.
The Aggie Mack below does reference the newspaper strike.
One of my all-time favorite continued adventure strips! The late Irwin Hasen was a friend of mine and we discussed the feature innumerable times. Unfortunately, one thing I never asked him was about "this" entry, whether it was a one-off or part of the Dondi continuity.
Dondi ran from 1955 to 1986, starting inside, and then was a mainstay of the Daily News Sunday Comics back page from about 1965 to May 1, 1977, when it was supplanted by Charles Schulz's Peanuts. When Edson died in 1966, Bob Oksner assisted Hasen until the strip's end. Ben Oda was the predominant letter of the feature.
Gasoline Alley is one of the granddaddies of newspaper strips, created by Frank King as a single panel feature debuting on November 24, 1918 and still running today. The original premise of the strip was lifelong bachelor Walt Wallet and his gang of friends (Avery and Doc) hanging around their garage. Most of the gags were of the automotive variety. But on February 14, 1921, Walt found an abandoned baby on his doorstep in the middle of the night, named him Skeezix, and the strip took off into the stratosphere. King had his characters age in real time, with his resulting genius depiction slice of Americana during the early and mid part of the 20th century, never surpassed by anyone.
Frank King handled the feature from 1918 to 1959. His assistant Bill Perry did the Sunday strips only from 1951 to 1975. Dick Moores did the daily continuity from 1959 to 1986 and Jim Scancarelli has produced the feature from 1986 to present.
The strongest recommendation I can make to readers is to look for the 5 volume reprinting of the earliest years of the strip by Drawn and Quarterly entitled Walt and Skeezix. A 6th precursor volume is called Walt before Skeezix, and reprints all the non-continuity automobile gag-a-day strips from 1918 to 1920. The most recent volume from 2011 carries the series up to 1930. (with a new one due in November).Walt and Skeezix, edited by Chris Ware, with annotations and introductions by historian Jeet Heer, and family archive articles and artifacts from the King family, is the finest collection of perhaps the grandest newspaper strip ever presented. Two over-sized volumes of King's fantastic Sunday pages have also been published by Dark Horse, covering the years 1920-1925. Everything can be bought here: Walt and Skeezix
One thing I have found, is a similar Chester Gould Dick Tracy specialty drawing announcing the end of a New York City newspaper strike, this one in 1966. (From "Dick Tracy, America's Favorite Detective", Citadel Press). So he did it once in 1963 and apparently did it again in 1966.
I welcome all comments and suggestions.