THE PUSSYCAT PRINCESSMedium: Newspaper comics
Distributed by: King Features Syndicate
First Appeared: 1935
Creators: Edward Anthony (writer) and Grace G. Drayton (artist)
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From the beginning, comics in newspapers were aimed at adults. There were even a few hardier examples like Mr. Jack that were banished to the sports pages, where they'd only be seen by he-men, because they were just to raw for women and children. And even on the comics page, features like The Katzenjammer Kids and Happy Hooligan contained the sort of humor that
tends to appeal to grown-ups. Even fantasy comics like Little Nemo in Slumberland and The Explorigator, ostensibly for kids, had largely adult audiences.
But even then, there were cartoonists who specialized in reaching a juvenile audience. One of them was Grace G. Drayton, a contemporary of pioneering female artist Rose O'Neil (Kewpies) who, under her maiden name (Grace Gebbie), her first married name (Grace Weidersheim) or the Drayton name, was responsible for Kittens, Dimples, Dolly & Bobby and more. Drayton's most famous creation is the advertising icon, The Campbell Kids. All displayed her characteristic round-cheeked, wide-eyed faces.
But the Great Depression wasn't kind to Drayton's smiling cherubs. By the middle of the 1930s, like most other Americans, she was feeling real financial hardship. Unlike most, hers were lifted when King Features Syndicate (Flash Gordon, Blondie) launched The Pussycat Princess, written by Ed Anthony (Animal Antics) and illustrated by Drayton, as a Sunday page, on March 10, 1935.
The Princess, whose actual name wasn't given, was the daughter of the King, also nameless, of Tabbyland. Her other associates, such as Sir Archibald Tinkle (Poet Laureate), Sergeant Snoop (a policeman who investigated crimes) and The Earl of Sourface (an "old crab", according to the king, who was always telling people what not to do) weren't so nameless. All were proper funny animals, human enough to get reader identification, but pussycat enough to consider fish the finest of foods.
Drayton's name was a major factor in selling the comic. A year later, when she had a heart attack and died at age 59, it lost a large portion of its subscriber base. Her replacement, Ruth Carroll, an author and illustrator of children's books, continued to draw it in a similar style, but it never did regain its lost circulation.
The Pussycat Princess was never made into a major motion picture, a radio show or even a Big Little Book. But starting in the 10th issue (January, 1937) it joined Popeye, Brick Bradford, Henry and others being reprinted by King Comics. That lasted only a couple of years, and afterward, the comic was confined to the Sunday funnies.
There, the cast all stayed until July of 1947, when King Features canceled the series.