Doc Wright. Artist: Rube Goldberg.


Medium: Newspaper comics
Distributed by: McNaught Syndicate
First Appeared: 1933
Creator: Rube Goldberg
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Rube Goldberg (1883-1970) is remembered as one of the greatest masters of humor of all American cartoonists. By the 1930s, with Mike & Ike (They Look Alike) Bobo Baxter, Foolish Questions and much …

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… more to his credit, that reputation was already firmly in place. His wonderful inventions alone would have been enough for a dozen careers of master humorists. So when McNaught Syndicate (Dixie Dugan, Cranberry Boggs) launched his new comic, Doc Wright, on January 29, 1933, people expected it to be funny.

A story is told of Goldberg being offered The Gumps after creator Sidney Smith's death, but turning it down because he had no interest in working with other people's characters (which, in fact, he never did do during his long and stellar career), so he created Doc Wright instead. The story seems unlikely because no editor would think of Goldberg in connection with a non-humorous comic strip, but what really sinks it is the timing. Smith was still very much alive in 1933.

If true (or even possible — Smith was immensely popular, so replacing him would have been out of the question), this story would explain why Goldberg, whose work had already made him wealthy, might have done so uncharacteristic a thing as create a soap opera comic. But no, it was more likely an attempt to broaden his repertoire while crafting a replacement in his work schedule for Boob McNutt, which was apparently beginning to bore him.

A couple of hundred newspapers signed up for the new feature. When it turned out to involve human interest instead of the wildly inventive goings-on they were expecting, editors expressed a certain amount of disappointment. So did readers. After about ten months, Goldberg pulled the plug and started a new comic about a wealthy idiot named Lala Palooza.

At the time of its demise, Sidney Smith was still flying high on The Gumps.


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Text ©2010 Donald D. Markstein. Art © Rube Goldberg estate.