Jane states her goals. Artist: Chic Young.


Medium: Newspaper comics
Distributed by: Newspaper Enterprise Association
First Appeared: 1921
Creator: Murat Young
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In 1921, 20-year-old Murat Young, who had been trained in the illustrative arts but was working as a stenographer for a Chicago railroad tycoon, heard Newspaper Enterprise Association, the Cleveland distributor of newspaper features that was already handling Freckles & His Friends, The Outbursts of Everett True and other comics, and would soon add Wash Tubbs to its offerings, was in the market for a new strip about a pretty girl. Before long, he'd relocated to Cleveland and was working …

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for NEA as a cartoonist, pulling down meager salary of $22 per week. Young's The Affairs of Jane (no relation) began on September 26, 1921, the same day as NEA's Our Boarding House.

The post-World War I flapper era was just starting, and young women frequently flouted the rules of decorum — drinking and smoking and doing any number of things women used to avoid, especially in public. Worse (in the eyes of many old-fashioned people), Jane herself was a Hollywood starlet, and true to type, more vain, flirty and even vulgar than the average member of her generation. Jane appeared mostly in what we would now call "B" movies, but fancied herself one of the Big Names.

Unfortunately, NEA sold its features mostly to rural and suburban newspapers. While Jane may have found greater audience acceptance in the larger urban centers, the small town people who mostly saw her tended to turn up their noses. She never said or did anything that would cause even the most blue-nosed modern reader to look askance, but still, she was gone as of the following March 18. NEA had greater success with Boots & Her Buddies, a pretty girl strip that started in 1924.

Meanwhile, Young moved to Bell Syndicate (Don Winslow, The Nebbs), where he started Beautiful Babs, another comic with a flapper protagonist. That one was no more successful, and shortly after, he started yet another, Dumb Dora, for King Features (Katzenjammer Kids, Little Jimmy).

Still at King, Young (who changed his byline's first name to the nickname "Chic") next tried another comic about what had become a specialty for him, a pretty girl with a lot of boyfriends. But this one settled down with one of them, and became the most successful domestic comedy strip star of all time — Blondie.

The cartoonist later characterized his comics leading up to Blondie as "best not remembered." But the world isn't likely to forget the early work of a superstar like Chic Young — especially The Affairs of Jane, his very first published comic.


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Text ©2010 Donald D. Markstein. Art © Newspaper Enterprise Association.