CLAIRE VOYANTMedium: Newspaper comics
Appearing in: PM
First Appeared: 1943
Creator: Jack Sparling
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In a comics environment where The Whizzer could move super-fast, Answer Man was super-good at answering questions, and Superman was just plain super, you'd think a woman calling herself Claire Voyant would have some kind of super-psychic powers. But no. Claire Voyant, who starred in a newspaper comic strip during the mid-1940s, just happened to hear someone use that word in conversation
as she woke up after being rescued at sea, drifting unconscious in a lifeboat, and gave that as her name because she couldn't remember the one she'd had before.
The rescue occurred when this Claire's series opened, on Monday, May 10, 1943. According to comics historian Coulton Waugh, her creator, cartoonist Jack Sparling (fresh from a stint on Hap Hopper and later responsible for The Pirana and Tiger Girl) said he made his adventure protagonist female because that seemed to be what newspaper editors were looking for at the time (cf., Debbie Dean, Miss Cairo Jones), and gave her amnesia because World War II was going on and he wanted to keep his options on her background open, pending how things would sort themselves out when it ended.
Claire Voyant appeared in the New York newspaper PM, and was syndicated nationwide by The Chicago Sun Times Syndicate. PM wasn't famous as a hotbed of cartooning, but did field a half-dozen or so strips over the years including Hank, by Coulton Waugh (the same historian, who had also taken over Dickie Dare when creator Milton Caniff moved on) and Vic Jordan, drawn by Paul Norris (Aquaman). The syndicate was only a slightly more prolific comics producer, but did manage, among others, to field Invisible Scarlet O'Neil and Betsy & Me.
Two years after she started, a story of hers was reprinted in a girls' magazine published by Magazine Enterprises (Funnyman). A couple of years after that, Standard Comics (The Woman in Red, Jetta of the 21st Century) gave her a title of her own for four issues. Most had covers by Jack Kamen (EC Comics) with reprinted Sparling strips inside. That was the entirety of her media spin-off career.
The war did end, and Claire learned a lot about her earlier life. She was Lyn Hall, a chorus girl who had been touring with the USO, when the ship she was coming home on was torpedoed by Nazis. She was given up for dead but, two years later, mysteriously turned up in that lifeboat. Hints about those missing years tantalized her, but she never did fill them in. She'd become a popular singer in her new life, and kept "Claire Voyant" as a stage name.
During the war years, she busied her offstage hours with adventuring, generally at sea. Afterward, with her usual villains now engaged in peacetime pursuits, she got more interested in soap opera plotlines, usually revolving around show business and romantic entanglements. She became less personally involved, evolving in the direction of Mary Worth, whose stories tended to be less about her, than about the people who came and went in her life.
Thus transformed, the strip lasted until 1948. Claire Voyant hasn't been seen since.