Sally here with Caitlin McGurk talking Edwina Dumm, the Apple Mary/Mary Worth comic strip story, and Six Chix!
Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum Associate Curator Caitlin McGurk was a guest on Episode 4 of the Library of American Comics & EuroComics Podcast, with Dean Mullaney and Kurtis Findlay. She talked about the upcoming American Comics Essentials Vol. 11, which collects Edwina Dumm‘s “Tippie” comic strip from 1945. Listen to the podcast HERE.
Check out the Edwina Dumm LOAC Essentials book HERE – it will be coming out soon, and features an introduction by Caitlin McGurk. I am a huge fan of Edwina Dumm and am personally so excited for this collection!
I like to root around in the archives of the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum, both in person and online. I was systematically going through the list of creators the other day, looking for WOMEN, and I came across June Brigman. I remembered that she was the last artist who worked on the comic Brenda Starr, Reporter (a long-running strip that has a fantastic, complete history of female creators – but that’s a tale for another day!) I looked into what she is currently working on, and noted that she is the artist behind the strip Mary Worth (syndicated by King Features).
Mary Worth is an interesting comic strip. It’s been around since 1938 or so, making it one of the longest running “continuity” strips ever. It’s like a soap opera, with loads of characters and swirling plot lines, but it is centered on Mary – a 60-something widow and former teacher. Currently written by Karen Moy and drawn since 2016 by Brigman, it touches on all sorts of social issues and features classic cliff-hanger endings. You can read it HERE.
Mary Worth was created by writer Allen Saunders and artist Dale Connor in 1938, but it has an interesting and somewhat debated connection to an earlier strip called Apple Mary.
Martha Orr (the niece of Carey Orr, a cartoonist with the Chicago Tribune) started Apple Mary in 1934. It was about an old woman named Mary, who sold apples out of a pushcart, and tended to her crippled grandson Dennie. (You can see an example of the strip at the top of this section.) The strip was successful, but Martha had to quit making it after about 4 years, in favor of raising her own family. This is when Mary Worth appeared, but whether it was made to fill the popular hole that Apple Mary had left, maintaining some of the same tone and subjects, or whether it was the true evolution of Apple Mary, is up for continuing debate. Don Markstein notes on his Toonopida page for Apple Mary that “Whatever the case may be, as the Great Depression lifted, Apple Mary was left behind. There is little to be seen of her in the Mary Worth of today.”
Here’s another Apple Mary strip by Martha Orr, one that does feature her being called Mary Worth by name.
I like the idea of this character existing for 84 years, bookended by female creators.
Next time I’m at the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum I’ll have to take a look at the one original Apple Mary strip by Martha Orr that they house in the archive! See it online HERE.
I recently discovered a really unique comic strip called Six Chix. It’s a daily strip syndicated by King Features and created by six women cartoonists – they each have their assigned day, and then they rotate for the Sunday strip.
“Isabella Bannerman draws Mondays; Martha Gradisher draws Tuesdays; Susan Camilleri Konar draws Wednesdays; Mary Lawton draws Thursdays; Benita Epstein draws Fridays; and Stephanie Piro draws Saturdays. Each cartoonist writes and draws with her own style and perspective. In any given week, you might find gags about the economy, technology, zombies, pirates or health care — and the main characters will be female and funny.“
The strip began in 2000 and was the idea of Jay Kennedy, the editor-in-chief at King Features at the time. You can read it online at the Six Chix website and learn more about the cartoonists HERE.
Collected from the thousands of pages of material that Frank has left scattered all over the digital landscape, these 4 PDF collections contain Frank’s best writing on comics and comics making from the past decade. Theory and process, reviews and discoveries, journeys both physical and spiritual.
Suzy and Cecil – 2-9-2018 – by Gabriella Tito