Ernie Bushmiller with a couple of gags about words… and other stuff.

Researching my magnum opus on the Ben Day dot, looking for some 1940s Sunday strips to put under the microscope, the first pages out of the box were from the St Paul Pioneer Press, November 8th 1942.

By pure dumb luck I found myself reading a genius page by Ernie Bushmiller. Two half pages, in fact, starting with Fritzi Ritz. Fritzi of course used to be a carefree flapper. Then she was Nancy’s Aunt Fritzi, living with her rotund niece for reasons never explained (though Unca’ Mickey and Unca’ Donald would probably have understood).

By 1942 Nancy had her own Sunday strip (it started in 1938) and it was often (not always by any means) on the same page as Fritzi’s. Then Nancy was in more papers and Fritzi was in fewer, until Fritzi finally bowed out in 1968.

Both these strips are about language. The Fritzi gag, involving longstanding boyfriend Phil Fumble, is pretty good.

It’s the Nancy strip which I find really outstanding.

Citizens of the USA & elsewhere often think that we British, subjects of Her Majesty, obsess endlessly about the issue of Class.

Here, in a riff on My Fair Lady, is the Queen of Manhattan trying to educate her boyfriend Sluggo how to talk proper.

If the final gag isn’t about Class (though a very NYC take on the subject) then as I’m sure one will agree, it ain’t about nothin’, buster.

FRITZI RITZ Nov 8 1942 St Paul Pioneer Press 144dpi

NANCY Nov 8 1942 St Paul Pioneer Press 144dpi

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