Broom-Hilda. Artist: Russell Myers.


Medium: Newspaper comics
Distributed by: Chicago Tribune Syndicate
First Appeared: 1970
Creator: Russell Myers
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Comic strips, these days, are marketed to specific demographics. For example, Baby Blues is marketed to parents of small children, Cathy is marketed to …

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… young working women, and Dilbert is marketed to those unfortunate souls who have to deal with large corporations on a daily basis.

So — who's the target audience for a strip about a cigar-chomping, green-skinned, nasty old witch whose best friends are a buzzard and a troll?

Whoever it might be marketed to, Broom-Hilda has been an very popular strip ever since it began, on April 19, 1970. It wasn't the first one submitted for publication by cartoonist Russell Myers — in fact, he tried quite a few before this one was accepted by The Chicago Tribune Syndicate. But when he did come up with one that clicked, it really clicked.

The old witch and her friends operate in a magical forest whose shifting landscapes are strongly reminiscent of Krazy Kat's Kokonino Kounty, where backgrounds would often undergo extreme metamorphosis just from one panel to the next. If the characters are walking alongside a brook at the beginning of a daily episode, that doesn't mean they won't be standing next to a cliff at the end of it, with a middle panel taking place under the spreading branches of a large tree. A realistic setting is not among the strip's virtues, but readers seem to consider that one of its charms.

Broom-Hilda has been animated, but not very prominently. Archie's 1971 Saturday morning show, produced by Filmation, had rotating segments starring several comic strip characters, and Broom-Hilda was one of them. Others in the mix included Nancy, Moon Mullins, Alley Oop, The Captain & the Kids, Smokey Stover and Dick Tracy. Jane Webb did Broom-Hilda's voice in these cartoons. The strip segments were brought back, without Archie, in Fabulous Funnies, which aired on NBC in 1978 and was then quickly forgotten.

But on the comics page, Broom-Hilda keeps chugging along, with at least a dozen paperback collections having come out over the years. The character claims to be 1500 years old, but that doesn't seem to slow her down.


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