Mopsy finds a new swimsuit. Artist: Gladys Parker.


Original Medium: Newspaper comics
Distributed by: Associated Newspapers
First Appeared: 1939
Creator: Gladys Parker
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Comic strips about pretty girls and their adventures as social butterflies gained popularity as early as 1912, with Cliff Sterrett's Polly & Her Pals, and flourished through the 1920s. As the late '20s gave way to the '30s they tended to fall by the wayside (like Dumb Dora

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… and Mazie the Model) or go domestic (like Fritzi Ritz and Boots & Her Buddies). But the genre wasn't dead. Mopsy, a single-panel feature by cartoonist Gladys Parker (whose first comic, Gay & Her Gang, was also one of them) didn't begin until 1939.

Mopsy, a petite brunette with short-cut curls, was modeled after the cartoonist herself — not just in looks but also in her propensity for uttering clever quips which, in the character's case, often referred to the men who inevitably hung around. But Parker was careful not to make Mopsy as smart as herself because she believed too intelligent a protagonist would be unattractive to readers, who are flattered by a comparison between the character's brains and their own.

In the tradition of Winnie Winkle and Tillie the Toiler, Mopsy was a working woman. When the United States got involved in World War II, she was frequently seen as a nurse, working in a munitions factory, or in some other role typical of the time. She continued working after the war, when money and her job situation became the focus of many gags. Throughout her existence, however, clothes and men occupied the bulk of her attention. It seemed to be a winning formula, because by the end of the '40s, she was reportedly appearing in about 300 papers.

A Sunday version was added in 1945, and with it, a series of paper dolls that became the primary focus of many later collectors. In '47, she made her comic book debut in Pageant of Comics #1. Two years later the same publisher, St. John Publishing Co. (licensor of United Feature properties such as Nancy, Famous Studios properties such as Casper and Terrytoons properties such as Little Roquefort), gave her a title of her own. Mopsy ran 19 issues, February 1949 through September 1953. Two years later, Charlton Comics (The Gunmaster, Timmy the Timid Ghost) reprinted a half-dozen of them. In 1955, Berkeley Books (later involved in an ill-fated revival of Classics Illustrated) brought out a paperback collection of Mopsy cartoons.

Gladys Parker retired in 1965, and Mopsy ended. The following year, Parker died, only 56 years of age, and Mopsy hasn't been seen since.


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Text ©2006-07 Donald D. Markstein. Art © Gladys Parker estate.