Betty and Lester. Artist: Charles Voight


Original medium: Newspaper comics
Published by: The New York Herald
First Appeared: 1920
Creator: C.A. Voight
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The American newspaper comics page abounded with comics about pretty girls during the 1920s — Polly, Dora, Fritzi, etc. But most of those were middle-class at their most affluent, while some,…

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… such as the early Blondie, were definitely declassé. Some didn't seem to worry too much about money, but they didn't make a schtick about traveling in wealthy circles and being a part of monied Society. An exception was cartoonist C.A. (Charles) Voight's Betty.

Betty Thompson's life was filled with cocktail parties, cotillions and affairs of that nature. She wore all the latest high-class fashions, amply displayed by Voight's lush, stylish and highly individual illustration. While Tillie the Toiler, very much a working girl, may seem to have little in common with Betty, they had one strong point of similarity. Both went through handsome, dashing men by the carload, but through the years stuck with one short, dumpy, seemingly uninteresting guy. Betty's equivalent of Tillie's Mac was Lester DePester, who had little going for him besides loyalty.

Betty's Sunday page — there was no daily — began April 4, 1920 in The New York Herald (later Herald-Tribune), which syndicated it nationwide. Other comics syndicated by the Herald include The Timid Soul and Mr. Twee Deedle.

During the 1930s, heyday of the adventure comic (lesser ones including Dan Dunn and Red Barry), Voight experimented with storylines about crime and sci-fi. But this didn't stop the page from looking like a 1920s period piece. Its datedness may have had something to do with the fact that despite the obvious quality of the work, Betty never moved out into other media, such as movies and radio shows. Or it may have been more attributable to the times, in which stories about rich people didn't speak to the American public.

In 1943, the Herald replaced the aging comic with a more up-to-date strip about a pretty girl, Penny. Voight gave up newspaper comics (where his other credits included the long-running daily variously named anything from Pete to Petey Dink), moving into comic books. There he worked in the shop run by Bernard Baily (The Spectre). He never revisted Betty. He died in 1947, at the age of 60.


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Text ©2006 Donald D. Markstein. Art © Estate of Charles Voight.