Friday, November 23, 2012


Obscurity of the Day: Radio Ralf

One of the very earliest radio-related comics is Radio Ralf, which arrived on the scene just three years after the first commercial-style radio broadcasts in 1919. Newspapers were quick to get on the radio hobby bandwagon, instituting weekly or even daily radio pages. Of course, where there's a radio page there must be a comic strip. That was the thinking of Jack Wilson and the McClure Syndicate when they offered Radio Ralf, starting April 10 1922.

Perhaps Radio Ralf didn't pique the fancy of newspaper editors on its own merits, or the offering was made earlier than there was any real demand for it, but the original daily run of the strip was extremely short, apparently ending on July 8, a mere three months later.

Although the strip seems to have ended with only 70-some installments under its belt, the burgeoning interest in radio kept it from going peacefully into the comic strip graveyard. In 1922-23, Western Newspaper Union added reprints of the feature to their weekly line-up. Then McClure itself started selling the strip in batches, where it was snapped up by economically minded newspapers well into the mid-1920s.

Thanks to Mark Johnson for the samples!


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