Curly Kayoe in action.


Medium: Newspaper comics
Distributed by: United Feature Syndicate
First Appeared: 1944
Creators: Sam and Mo Leff
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Curly Kayoe wasn't the most successful comic strip about a boxer the world ever saw — that would undoubtedly be Joe Palooka. Nor was it …

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… second — that would probably be Big Ben Bolt. But it was a strip about a boxer, and it did keep a sizeable audience entertained for a goodly number of years.

It didn't start out as a strip about a boxer. In fact, it didn't even start out as a strip about a character named Curly Kayoe. Its original title was Joe's Car, and the star was a short but determined man named Joe Jinks, whose main focus had nothing to do with boxing. Joe became a fight promoter in the late 1920s, and hooked up with Curly during September, 1944.

At the time, Sam Leff was signing the strip (which had long since been retitled Joe Jinks), and United Feature Syndicate (Gordo, Ferd'nand) was distributing it. Leff, whose other credits in comics are sparse, was writing and inking it, with his brother Mo (who had assisted Al Capp on Li'l Abner and done a children's fantasy Sunday page called Peter Pat on his own) doing the pencil art.

Curly Kayoe was a big, blond-headed guy, good-hearted but not extremely bright — very much like Joe Palooka, who by that time was well established as the #1 boxing strip star. And the resemblance is no coincidence, because even as he came onto the scene, Mo Leff was ghosting the Palooka strip for its creator, Ham Fisher (which may be why Sam was the one signing Jinks).

Curly became such a prominent character that on December 31, 1945, the title of the strip was changed to Curly Kayoe. Early in 1947, Joe moved out west, and Curly was the star indeed. (He never did, however, take over the Sunday version, which remained focused on Joe's home life.) From 1946-50, United Feature published eight issues of a Curly Kayoe comic book; and in 1958, Dell Comics published an issue as part of its Four Color Comics series.

His adventures continued for well over a decade, but then the same thing happened to him as had happened to Joe — a secondary character named Davy Jones, a seaman, became more and more prominent; and in 1961, the title was changed once again. Under Davy's name, the strip continued until 1971, but during its last decade, Curly Kayoe was no longer a part of it.


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Text ©2002-09 Donald D. Markstein. Art © United Feature Syndicate.