Monday, December 26, 2022
Obscurity of the Day: The Fumble Family
Courtney Dunkel had a very long career in newspaper comics, but he never had a real hit. Even his long-running series were of the throwaway variety. Which is a shame, because I think Dunkel's art was superb, one of those guys who just know how to 'draw funny'. Even when his gags were second-rate, Dunkel's art brings a smile and maybe even a chuckle all by itself.
The Fumble Family is, as far as I've been able to find, his first published newspaper feature. An earlier one, Radio Bugs, was advertised in E&P in 1925 but has not yet been found running in a newspaper. The Fumble Family debuted on March 8 1928* through the auspices of Autocaster Service. That company was primarily engaged in the technical end of newspaper production, but they also dabbled in feature syndication, generally material for weekly papers. The Fumble Family was one of those weekly offerings, an absolute delight that appeared in vanishingly few newspapers. The strip ended on June 6 1929**, replaced in Autocaster's small line-up with Pinky Dinky, a strip by Terry Gilkison.
As regards the dates, keep in mind that with weekly strips, client newspapers may be published on any day of the week. I generally offer dates that relate to the particular newpspaper in which I find the information. In this case the papers I used to document start and end dates both happen to have been published on Thursdays, thus the dates given are Thursdays.
* Source: Oxford Leader
** Source: Nemaha County Republican