GAMIN AND PATCHESMedium: Newspaper comics
Distributed by: United Feature Syndicate
First Appeared: 1988
Creator: Mort Walker
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In the history of comics in American newspapers, lots of cartoonists have been responsible for a large number of strips. But most of them have been serial cartoonists, doing several in succession but never more than one or two at a time. Milton Caniff is a good example, not starting Steve Canyon
until he was finished with Terry & the Pirates, and not getting involved with Terry until Dickie Dare was out of the way; and the only time he did two at once was during World War II, when he donated Male Call to Army camp papers in addition to doing Terry for commercial syndication. But Mort Walker didn't do it that way. His Beetle Bailey was as strong as ever when he spun Hi & Lois off into its own daily and Sunday series, and he's remained involved with both while, with a plethora of collaborators and assistants, Boner's Ark, Mrs. Fitz's Flats, Sam's Strip and more have come and gone.
Gamin and Patches was the last of Walker's strips, and one of the shortest-lived. While Walker did some of his other strips in collaboration with Dik Browne (Hagar the Horrible), Frank Johnson (Bringing Up Father) and others, he did this one all by himself, with only Bill Janocha, who assisted him in his studio, doing the lettering and other touch-up work. He signed it with the name "Addison" (his actual first name).
Another way Gamin and Patches stood out from Walker's other work was in the choice of distributor. Most Walker comics were distributed by King Features Syndicate, the largest of the newspaper syndicates, which also handled such multiple-work cartoonists as George Herriman (The Dingbat Family, Gooseberry Sprigg) and Jimmy Swinnerton (Little Jimmy, Canyon Kiddies). This one, alone among his works, was handled by King's early rival, United Feature Syndicate, which is also known for Fritzi Ritz, Ferd'nand and Gordo.
The word "gamin" is defined as a street urchin, one of those unattached boys who inhabit densely-packed urban areas and don't seem to have much supervision. "Patches" is a name that might be given to a mutt of uncertain extraction, the sort of heterogenously-bred dog that a gamin might associate with. Both names appropriately described their owners. Together, they were one of the classic boy-dog comics duos, comparable to Cap Stubbs and Tippy, Charlie Brown and Snoopy, or Danny Dennis and Rex the Wonder Dog.
United Feature launched the strip on Monday, April 27, 1987. The following year, they brought it out in book form, both hardcover and paperback. But it wasn't the success they hoped. 1988 was the final year it was distributed.