The Gumps
The Gumps
by Sidney Smith

The Gumps was created by Sidney Smith in 1917, launching a 42-year run in newspapers from February 12, 1917 until October 17, 1959. The Gumps were utterly ordinary: chinless, bombastic blowhard Andy Gump, who is intimidated by his wife, Min (short for Minerva), their son Chester, rich Uncle Bim and their annoying maid Tilda. The idea was envisioned by Captain Joseph M. Patterson. He hired Smith to write and draw the strip, and it was Smith who breathed life into the characters. The Gumps made its debut in an unusual way. Cartoonist Sidney Smith had previously drawn and written Old Doc Yak, a talking-animal strip that sustained only a brief run. The very last Old Doc Yak strip depicted the Yak and his family moving out of their house, while wondering who might move into the house next. The last panel showed only the empty house. The next day’s newspapers, in the space formerly occupied by Old Doc Yak, printed the very first strip of The Gumps, showing the Gumps moving into the house formerly occupied by the Yak family. Robert Sidney Smith (1877-1935), was born in Bloomington, Illinois. The son of a dentist, Smith never finished high school and began drawing cartoons for his hometown newspaper when he was 18. He also delivered chalk talks and worked in various newspaper art departments. In 1908, he signed on as a sports cartoonist at the Chicago Examiner where he created a talking goat in a feature, Buck Nix, which involved continuity: “What will tomorrow bring?” He continued the goat character in Old Doc Yak when he moved to the Chicago Tribune. The strip, its merchandising (toys, games, a popular song, playing cards, food products) and media adaptations made Smith a wealthy man. In addition to his townhouse, he had a large estate near Chicago and a 2,200-acre farm. He believed in physical fitness, keeping in shape with amateur boxing and long-distance running. On his way home from signing a $150,000-a-year contract in 1935, he crashed his new Rolls-Royce and died in a head-on collision at the age of 58.
The Gumps reprinting strips from 1928. Available on Complete Inventory USB, 62 black & white pages.

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