Thursday, November 17, 2011


Obscurity of the Day: Miss Pippin

Single women more and more were making their presence felt in the workforce in the 1910s, and strips about their experiences in the working world were starting to pop up. By the 20s and 30s they were well on the way to being a comics page staple, but in the 1910s J.P. Arnot's Miss Pippin, the tale of a lady school principal, was still at least a little bit of a novelty. Better yet, Hearst bullpenner Arnot didn't react to the continued rise of women's rights advocacy in the 1910s as most of the male breed did, with indulgent sugar-coated derision.

Arnot's strip didn't make fun of this working woman the way most did. The typical jokes about women having no head for business, being too frail of spirit and too tender of heart to survive in the world of men were seldom used in Miss Pippin. Arnot's protagonist was portrayed as an intelligent and resourceful woman who effortlessly turns aside male chauvinism with her demure good manners and wit.

Perhaps newspaper readers in the 1910s weren't ready for this 'foremother' of Brenda Starr, because the strip didn't run for long. Hearst strips from the latter half of the teens are devilishly hard to track, but I believe the strip began on September 29 1917 and seems to have sputtered out by December of that year. I have yet to find a paper that printed the strip on a consistent daily basis, so it may have been one of the last of what I term 'weekday strips', daily-style strips that were not issued on a regular 6-day per week basis. If anyone has located a true daily run of it, please let me know.


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