Cover of the first 'Brownies' comic book. Artist: Walt Kelly.


Original Medium: Comic books
Published by: Dell Comics
First Appeared: 1942
Creator: George Kerr
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Features about communities of tiny people have been part of the comics scene since the very beginning — The Teenie Weenies, by William Donahey, was a Sunday page for generations; and the series that …

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… inspired it goes back decades beyond The Yellow Kid himself. That very early series, by the way, had the same name as this one — The Brownies.

This version of The Brownies began in the November, 1942 issue of New Funnies, a Dell comic book which at the time featured Andy Panda, Li'l Eight Ball and other Walter Lantz cartoon characters, along with a few other series. This one was the creation of cartoonist George Kerr, whose unusual, old-fashioned style was also seen in Dell's version of Raggedy Ann.

While Kerr was doing the feature, it somewhat resembled Palmer Cox's earlier version, which had last been seen almost a quarter century before. But later, in the hands of Walt Kelly, creator of Pogo, it took on a completely new appearance. Kelly, who gained much of his early experience at Disney, brought a lush, rich and altogether more modern look to the feature. He began writing and drawing it in New Funnies #82, December, 1943.

Kelly's New Funnies tenure lasted only four issues. By mid-1944, the non-Lantz features had been completely crowded out by the likes of Homer Pigeon and Woody Woodpecker. "The Brownies" wasn't seen again until July, 1948, when Kelly's version was featured in Four Color Comics #192.

Four Color was Dell's catch-all series, where the publisher put characters and concepts not deemed strong enough to sustain regularly-published titles of their own. Another Kelly-crafted issue came out in 1949 and a third in 1950. Then Kelly moved on, concentrating mostly on Pogo. The series was continued by lesser artists, who produced seven more issues over the next few years. But before long, The Brownies began suffering from competition with another Dell comic.

In 1952, Walt Scott, another Disney man, launched a Sunday comic strip titled The Little People, which not only duplicated the theme of The Brownies — it also duplicated the comic's look. The Little People was licensed to Dell in 1953, and Scott himself wrote and drew the comic book version. Syndicated nationally, it was a higher-profile feature than The Brownies, and seems to have been a more successful one in comic book form.

The Little People was published by Dell for the rest of the 1950s. The Brownies succumbed with Four Color Comics #605 (December, 1954).


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