Bobby making-believe. Artist: Frank King.


Medium: Newspaper comics
Distributed by: Chicago Tribune Syndicate
First Appeared: 1915
Creator: Frank King
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Fantasy was quite the thing in early comics, usually an attempt to compete with Winsor McCay's Little Nemo in Slumberland. Frank King's Bobby Make-Believe came along …

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… about a decade after Nemo's sensational run started, but still showed definite signs of having been inspired by McCay's work. But Bobby's making-believe was more down-to-earth tham Nemo's Slumberland. He did his share of daydreaming about magical adventures, but his more common subject matter concerned bravery in battle or intrepid exploring. His series, which has been compared with James Thurber's "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty", was more like the later Dickie Dare or Dick's Adventures in Dreamland than the earlier Nibsy the Newsboy or Mr. Twee Deedle.

The Chicago Tribune (Dick Tracy, Winnie Winkle) launched Bobby's Sunday page on January 31, 1915. It was the first successful comic for King, whose earlier tries included Tough Teddy and Here Comes Motorcycle Mike, but whose true claim to fame as a cartoonist was Gasoline Alley.

Bobby continued as a weekly series for a few years, never transferring to other media or even to the daily newspaper. Then King's more famous creation hit it big, becoming a seven-day comic. The exact date of Bobby's demise isn't known, but it probably took place in 1919. It was briefly revived in 1940, while over at United Feature Syndicate (Peanuts, Drago) was running its near-namesake, Billy Make Believe, had already come and gone, making at least a minor splash. But Bobby was revived only in reprint form. After a few months of that, it disappeared forever.


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