Tuesday, July 23, 2013


Obscurity of the Day: World Citizen

Sometimes I wonder, if we dig deep enough, whether we could find a comic strip series by every editorial cartoonist in the world. You sure could have knocked me over with a feather when I stumbled across this rarity, a comic strip by one of the most celebrated political cartoonists in the world, David Low.

According to a Time magazine article, the famed cartoonist decided he wanted a "try at new things and a change of air." Low created World Citizen, a politically charged but non-topical feature, while cartooning for the London Daily Herald. The weekly strip was syndicated all over the world, and in the U.S. distribution was handled by the Register & Tribune Syndicate.

The pantomine strip featured a mild-mannered everyman character who was apparently nude under his oversized trenchcoat. The inky black authority figures of the strip, whether politicians, police or bosses, subject our protagonist to all sorts of Kafka-esque mistreatment.

The strip debuted in the Sydney (Australia) Herald and other foreign papers on or about September 16 1951, but doesn't seem to have debuted in the U.S. until November 11 of that year (has anyone seen it earlier?).

Low's strip had the same problem here that any weekly strip would -- newspaper editors don't seem to have a readily open slot for such an animal. It doesn't really fit in the weekday papers, where 6-day a week features are the norm, and it doesn't really fit in the Sunday paper either, where comic strips are supposed to be clad in gay colors for the comics section. The stature of Low stimulated some papers to figure out how to make it work, but very few editors were up to the apparently monstrous difficult  task.

In the U.S., World Citizen was advertised until 1954, though I haven't found it running in a paper later than 1952. I don't know how long the weekly strip ran in foreign markets.


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