Hubert and Trudy. Artist: Dick Wingert.


Medium: Newspaper comics
Distributed by: King Features Syndicate
First Appeared: 1942
Creator: Dick Wingert
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Hubert is one of a long line of hapless comic strip schlubs with a less-than-ideal life — not, of course, as low on the totem pole as Brutus P. Thornapple or Henry Tremblechin, but right …

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… down there with A. Mutt, Casper Hawkins and E. Pluribus Dingbat. He had a dull job with an overbearing boss, a dull home life including a mother-in-law he didn't like very much, and all the other accoutrements of a regular guy burdened by life.

Like Mr. Breger, another ordinary guy who held down a syndicated comic, Hubert started out as a World War II bottom-level soldier. There, too, he wasn't as bad off as Sad Sack, a regular in Yank magazine, but easily held his own against Half Hitch or even Private Snafu. Starting in 1942, Hubert appeared in Stars & Stripes, alongside Bill Mauldin's Willie & Joe. There, he didn't simply start off fully formed in his single-panel feature, but evolved over time. He didn't even have a name at first, but was identified mainly by the unique cartooning style of his creator, Dick Wingert. Among his salient characteristics was an ability to take an amazing amount of punishment without keeling over, such as when he woke up with tank tracks running across his chest, and remarked he'd gotten so he could sleep anywhere.

In the Army, Wingert took most of his inspiration from talking with the soldiers around him. He tried to get inspired by visiting the front a couple of times, but found that didn't help much, because "It wasn't very funny." The panel itself, however, was funny enough that its first book collection came out as early as 1944.

In civilian life, King Features Syndicate (Blondie, Prince Valiant) again ran Hubert as a panel, starting in 1945, but it soon became a full-sized daily strip. On February 2, 1946, King added a Sunday. The character looked the same and acted the same, but now he had a full name, Hubert Dooley. He also had a boss, Dexter Baxter, and a wife, Trudy. Later he acquired a young daughter, Ellie, and a dog, Freddy. He retained his ability to stand up to any amount of adversity, which is a good thing, because he got a lot of it.

Wingert had a few assistants over the years, such as Tex Blaisdell (Manhunter) and Frank Johnson (Boner's Ark), but remained the main cartoonist behind the Hubert strip for its entire run (tho his art style steadily became more mainstream). It never became a media sensation (tho it did get adapted into a Dell comic book in 1949), nor was it one of King's stand-outs, either in terms of critical acclaim or circulation. But it delivered laughs on a steady, reliable basis for almost half a century, ending in 1994.


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Text ©2006-07 Donald D. Markstein. Art © King Features.