Early “Connie” Sunday strips . . .

I notice that Charles Pelto, of the Classic Comics Press (which has published a Rusty Riley reprint book that I discussed in an earlier post), has posted a panel from the August 9, 1931, Sunday Connie comic-strip.  I also notice that the “Stripper’s Guide” blog has posted many Sunday examples from the first Sunday Connie science-fiction story, which started on August 2, 1936.  I’m not sure whether that all represents a renewed interest in the strip.

There is little or no doubt that the August 2, 1936, strip was the first episode of the first real Connie Sunday science-fiction story, or adventure story, for that matter — unless you consider the Connie detective stories to be adventures.  (I doubt that any of the detective stories lasted more than one Sunday.)

As to the 1936 Sunday Connie strips that preceded August 2, 1936 — seven months of strips — I have examples of all but three, and all of the ones I have are “gag” strips.  And I have enough of the pre-1936 Sundays to be pretty sure that there are no science-fiction strips that preceded the August 2, 1936, strip, although there are a couple of gag strips that flirted with being science fiction (one of which involved a dream).

I don’t know whether I have made much of a point of it on this blog, but I personally have been perhaps as interested in the earlier Sunday strips as I am in the science-fiction or adventure Sundays.  I think part of my interest was due to the mysteries that formerly shrouded the early months of the Sunday strip.  It appeared that no one was able to state — with proof — “when” the Sunday strip began.  For probably many years I was convinced that the Sunday strip started in 1929, though I could not figure out exactly when.  Allan Holtz nailed down the exact date of the first Sunday strip as April 28, 1929, as stated on his blog.

That is completely consistent with everything I know about the strip.  The earliest example in my collection — a strip which I obtained on eBay recently — is the May 5, 1929, strip.  So, there isn’t any mystery any more, but I think it will be a long time — if ever — before the April 28, 1929, date gains universal acceptance, in part because a date in 1927 has been stated in so many places.

Below is an image of the first panel of the May 5, 1929, Sunday.  It’s particularly interesting, because it shows that Connie was portrayed as an aviatrix very early in the Sunday strip (as well as in the daily strip).  Also, notice the skillful rendering of Connie in the second panel — especially her pilot’s coat or jacket.  Also notable is the apparently casual lettering which was a staple of a great many Connie episodes.  This image also shows (in part) the general kind of “title panel” that Connie used in the early days.  Also, though you can’t tell from this image, in those days, the Sunday Connie was truly a “full,” because there was no “bottom-strip.”

Connie 5 5 29

Incidentally, I should mention that this particular episode is definitely a gag strip.

—Tom Sawyer

April 18, 2014


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