Beautiful 1912 newspaper comic panel by Johnny Gruelle

Thomas Haller Buchanan posted this scan from a 1912 comic strip panel by Raggedy Ann and Andy artist Johnny Gruelle. He says, "Time to isolate another panel from the comics to celebrate its stand-alone beauty. This panel from the newspaper comics of 1912 looks more like an elegant kid's book illustration."


  1. I love this style of illustration, fondly remembered from the many old children’s books I read at my grandparents’ homes. Does anyone know of any old books that teach this style?

  2. This panel may well have ended up in a Gruelle book as well – later in his career he recycled his newspaper work into his books (which eventually became noticeably repetitive and formulaic, although this  is not necessarily a detriment given the intended audience).

    I read my children all the Raggedy Ann and Andy stories when they were toddlers, just as my father read them to my sisters and I, and just as his father read them to him.  The books are tattered and worn but the wonderful illustrations are all intact.

    Nowadays some editorializing is required if you want to avoid censoring.  Johnny Gruelle was ahead of his time, in terms of racial sensitivities, but that’s not saying a whole lot.  And you want to be able to explain why Dinah talks in dialect (and the mammy doll Beloved Belindy doesn’t) when the kids ask you.

  3. I love that this was posted on the same day as the Dan Clowes video, in which he laments the loss of such great work in the newspaper’s comic pages. His quote was along the lines of  “Once we had the greatest talents in illustration in the papers… here’s a whole full-color page to go to work with… and now, maybe it’s three panels of a guy talking to a cat, or something”.

  4. I’ve seen other examples of Gruelle’s comic strip Mr. Twee Deedle that are similarly gorgeous. I was happy to hear that many of these strips will soon no longer be living in obscurity, as Fantagraphics has a big Mr. Twee Deedle book in the works coming out sometime this year…

    Have you ever considered interviewing some of the folks at Fantagraphics for your Gweek podcast, Mark? Besides publishing so many of the greatest modern cartoonists, they sure are publishing an overwhelming amount of wonderful comics reprints these days. Besides the long running standbys of Schulz’s Peanuts, Herriman’s Kat, Segar’s Popeye, and Foster’s Prince Valiant, they now have Gottfredson’s Mickey Mouse, Barks’ Ducks, Kelly’s Pogo (and Our Gang), Johnson’s Barnaby, Crane’s Captain Easy, the non-Mad EC Comics, various Wolverton books… and more. It’s just nuts. There is an astounding amount of the greatest comics of all time being reprinted by them.

    1.  If I’m remembering correctly, some of the Fantagraphics reprint books you mention have been discussed on Gweek, though he hasn’t talked to someone from the company.

    2. We’ve not yet had a guest Fanta, but that’s a great idea. Who should I talk to: Gary, Kim, Jacq, Eric, Jacob…?

  5. I’d most like to hear details about their vintage comics reprint projects… from what I gather, Gary Groth and Kim Thompson are both heavily involved in those. I met Eric Reynolds once, and he seemed like a delightful guy, and it would be fun to hear him interviewed as well. Maybe see what they suggest? Thanks for considering it, Mark!

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