Dick and Columbus stride through the town prior to the famous voyage. Artist: Neil O'Keefe.


Medium: Newspaper comics
Distributed by: King Features Syndicate
First Appeared: 1947
Creators: Max Trell (writer) and Neil O’Keefe (artist)
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Dick's Adventures in Dreamland, a mid-century Sunday comic from King Features Syndicate, was sort of a cross between Dickie Dare and Little Nemo in Slumberland. But according to correspondence between King editor Ward Greene (co-creator of Rip Kirby) …

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… and corporate honcho William Randolph Hearst (the man who turned The Yellow Kid into a phenomenon), as reported in a 1946 issue of Time magazine, neither comic had anything to do with the decision to create and market the new comic. It was actually an attempt to make American history entertaining to young readers.

King Features hired writer Max Trell (formerly a reporter for Captain Joe Patterson's New York Daily News, and artist Neil O'Keefe (whose other comics credits include a King Features strip based on Edgar Wallace's Inspector Wade of Scotland Yard), to flesh out the feature. It debuted on Sunday, January 12, 1947. It was done in the style of Prince Valiant and the early Flash Gordon, with large, balloon-less drawings above paragraphs of text.

Dick's first dream teamed him up with Columbus. After that, he had adventures with the Pilgrims, Mad Anthony Wayne, Stephen Decatur, and other historical figures. His only foray outside Sunday newspapers was a Dell comic book, published in 1949, which reprinted a couple of early stories.

That was far from the 20th century's only attempt to teach history with comics. Texas History Movies and America's Best Buy: The Louisiana Purchase, while limited in their scope, received accolades from educators for exactly that, to say nothing of Larry Gonick's Cartoon History of the Universe. This one did a pretty good job of conveying accurate historical information, but apparently didn't have a great deal of long-term success in entertaining young readers. It ended in 1956.


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