Saturday, October 24, 2020

OT : Tales from the New York Daily News Sunday Comics (#10) : Happy 100th Anniversary to WINNIE WINKLE by Martin Branner!


A happy 100th anniversary to the long-running classic News comic strip, Winnie Winkle, debuting as a daily strip on September 20, 1920 in the Chicago Tribune and the New York Daily News and ending a 75 year run on July 28, 1996, in that self-same New York Daily News.


From my pal, John Wells:

"One hundred years ago, cartoonist Martin Branner introduced 'Winnie Winkle the Breadwinner' in the pages of the Chicago Tribune and the New York Daily News. Developed from a concept of newspaper syndicate head Joseph Patterson, Winnie was a trailblazing early example of the working girl strip. While her less-than-ambitious father sat at home, Winnie supported the family for the likes of safety pin manufacturer Barnaby Bibbs and fashion king Edwin Bonnaz. Under Branner, the series was a comedy, albeit one that was interspersed with melodrama and tragedy. Winnie's husband, Bill Wright, was presumed dead four times during the feature's run, the first instance occurring as the blonde stenographer gave birth to twins. The strip transitioned to dramatic soap opera in the 1950's with a more dramatic art style by Branner assistants like Jack Berrill and Max Van Bibber. Following a series of strokes in the early 1960's, Branner effectively retired with Van Bibber and writer Henry Raduta as the new creative team. Van Bibber in turn, was succeeded by students of the Joe Kubert School and Frank Bolle in the early 1980's while Leonard Starr came aboard to ghost-write the feature in 1985. Now the head of a major fashion company, Winnie had come a long way since she was a stenographer for Mr. Bibbs. Unfortunately, her popularity was a shadow of its former self. Once flagship paper The Chicago Tribune dropped the strip on November 26, 1994, the writing was on the wall. Winnie Winkle ended its run on July 28, 1996 in the New York Sunday News and a relative handful of other papers."

I'm going to limit the history lesson to John's words above and post a long sample of Sunday pages, one per year, through the decades of this iconic feature as it ran in the New York Sunday News comics, depicting the changes through the 3/4 century. The Sunday page debuted on April 2, 1922. The topper Looie Blooie, which became just Looie, came and went over the decades in this paper, finally petering out by the early 1960's, by which time it was done in a black "silhouette" style for approximately the last 5 years. The mid 1930's, mostly 1935, also had "Fashion Cut-Out" and "Style Story" features for a short while. Two "Style Story" examples are below, both from 1935, not placed into the yearly survey I've assembled here.


And sadly, by the 1970's and beyond, editors would frequently truncate the Sunday page from 3 tiers to 2 tiers in order to fit 3 strips per page. A practice amounting to highway robbery, in my humble opinion. The practice varied from week to week depending on ads and space.

[*** Warning...Newspaper comic strips of certain earlier decades, specifically the 1910's, 1920's, 1930's, and 1940's, often depicted racial stereotypes in a manner completely unacceptable today. As they were common across all media of the time, pretending they didn't exist, or censoring them, would be an injustice to accurate history. Please keep this context in mind. ***] 

[*** Additional note... The Sunday pages of the early 1940's through the early 1950's primarily featured the character and family of Denny Dimwit, a pin-head shaped dunce whose fractured syntax and coarse misadventures were very popular (even spawning toy dolls). From today's perspective, the character stereotypes of an uneducated, poverty-stricken family comes across somewhat less amusing and a bit awkward than as humorously originally perceived in mid 20th century popular culture. ***]

A Winnie Winkle themed illustrated envelope for a 1944 letter from Martin Branner to his son Bernard during the war.....


The 1920's


April 2, 1922 (debut Sunday page)

April 1, 1923 (original art)

April 26, 1924

March 1, 1925 (original art)

October 3, 1926

October 16, 1927 

February 26, 1928 (original art)

April 28, 1929

The 1930's:

August 10, 1930

April 5, 1931

March 13, 1932

January 1, 1933 (original art)

October 29, 1933

March 11, 1934 

June 23, 1935 (with "Fashion Cut-out")

September 20, 1936 

April 4, 1937

March 27, 1938

July 23, 1939

The 1940's:

January 21, 1940

December 7, 1941

October 18, 1942

March 28, 1943

February 27, 1944

December 23, 1945

November 10, 1946

December 28, 1947

April 4, 1948

October 30, 1949

 The 1950's:

December 3, 1950

February 18, 1951

June 15, 1952

April 5, 1953

June 20, 1954 (last Denny Dimwit Sunday)

November 20, 1955

May 13, 1956

February 17, 1957

March 30, 1958

May 31, 1959

The 1960's:

October 2, 1960

December 17, 1961

October 7, 1962

November 3, 1963

March 22, 1964

January 24, 1965

December 25, 1966

November 12, 1967

September 29, 1968

November 2, 1969

The 1970's:

March 15, 1970

December 26, 1971

July 30, 1972

July 1, 1973

July 28, 1974

November 2, 1975

March 7, 1976

November 13, 1977

December 17, 1978

November 18, 1979

August 31, 1980

December 12, 1981

December 19, 1982

April 17, 1983

August 5, 1984

September 1, 1985

March 9, 1986

August 30, 1987

September 25, 1988

July 23, 1989

November 11, 1990

June 16, 1991

September 6, 1992

November 14, 1993

December 18, 1994 

July 9, 1995

July 28, 1996 (final Sunday page)


  1. All scans are from the author's personal collection of the New York Sunday News Comics except for 10 scans, including the debut Sunday, which came from the collection of my friend John Wells, whose help was much appreciated. Thanks also to John for guest writing the strip's history at the top of this page. 
  2. Original art scans courtesy of Heritage Auctions.
  3. Photo of Martin Branner and scan of illustrated envelope from my friend  Shaun Clancy, both used with his permission.