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George McManus

George McManus was born in St.Louis, Missouri on January 23, 1884. In 1900, when he was just 16 years old he became both the fashion editor and a cartoonist for the St.Louis Republic. At the Republic he created "Alma & Oliver", his first comic strip.

He went to New York in 1904 and joined Joseph Pulitzer's "The World", where he would create several different strips for the next eight years. These strips are largely forgotten, but a couple of them, notably "Cheerful Charley" and "Panhandle Pete" are remembered for their wit. He also created a strip in 1904 called "The Newlyweds" which he would revive several times over the next dozen years under different titles, in part due to experimentation and in part to his leaving the World for Hearst's "Journal American" in 1912.

At the Journal he created several other strips, and it would be these that he is most remembered for. "Spareribs & Gravy" about a Mutt & Jeff team of world explorers, which was quite a funny strip; "Rosie's Beau"; and finally the immortal Bringing Up Father starring the unflapable Maggie and the ever miscievous Jiggs, which began in 1913 as an intermitent daily strip before establishing permanent status in 1916. The first Sunday episode appearing on April 14, 1918.

Bringing Up Father was a conceptual burlesque of American life in the early part of this century. Maggie was an ordinary washlady and Jiggs a mason when the couple wins the Irish sweepstakes and become rich. Though Maggie's snobery might have fit nicely into her mansion, Jiggs on the other hand never pretended to be anything but a simple Irishman wanting to drink an ale at Dinty Moore's tavern and play poker at his friend's home. These opposites quite frequently led to the tossing of a rolling pin at Jiggs' head, and Jiggs' need to hide his many transgressions from his over vigilante wife.

McManus was a magnificent humorist, and his daily offerings were joys to read, but there was more to this strip than humor! One of the most striking characteristics of the strip was the outstanding Art Deco backgrounding. Large chandeliers, flowing staircases, modernist designs and fabulous decorations were placed carefully throughout, and if you looked closely at the pictures on the walls you could see the characters within them moving and changing.

The resulting combinations of art, design and wit made Bringing Up Father one of the most popular comic strips of all time and appeared on the first page of Hearst's comic section for many years. It is reported to be the first comic strip that achieved fame world wide.

In the 1920's, a play called "Father" made a tour of the country and McManus played the lead character in some of it's productions.

In the forties, McManus turned over most of the artistic chores over to cartoonist Vern Greene, the former artist of the Shadow daily strip and brother of DC comic artist Sid Greene.

A characterization of Jiggs carrying a bomb adorned all the B-25's in the 11th Bomb Squadron. The plane that my Dad and crew flew in the most was called 'The Battlin' Buckeye'.

McManus died October 22, 1954 in Santa Monica, California.

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