Brutus puts one over on Gladys. Artist: Art Sansom.


Medium: Newspaper comics
Distributed by: Newspaper Enterprise Association
First Appeared: 1965
Creator: Art Sansom
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The Born Loser, one of the more reliable laugh getters on the comics pages of today's newspapers, started out in 1965 as a strip with a theme, but no central character — sort of …

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… like They'll Do It Every Time and its most successful imitator, There Oughta Be a Law!, both of which concerned the ironies and hypocrisies of everyday life. In cartoonist Art Sansom's comic, the theme was losing — not in the sense of coming in second in an athletic competition, but, as implied by the title, that of simply being a loser.

They'll Do It Every Time soon fielded the recurring character Henry Tremblechin, a typical working schlub, and his entourage (domineering boss, equally domineering wife, impossible kid); and There Oughtta Be a Law did the same except the schlub's name was Amos Cringely. And in The Born Loser, a particular loser began standing out — Brutus P. Thornapple (no relation), who quickly became the star of the strip.

Brutus and his wife, Gladys, have a relationship that tends more toward the Lockhorns end of the spectrum than that of the cute little naked people who star in Love Is … — sort of like Blondie & Dagwood or Hi & Lois but with a good deal less harmony. Brutus is also tyrannized by his mother-in-law (Ramona Gargle), his boss (Rancid W. Veeblefester), neighborhood kids, and practically everybody else he comes into contact with. His not-so-bright son, Wilberforce, being the offspring of a born loser and therefore a born loser in his own right, isn't quite so tyrannical.

Newspaper Enterprise Association (Frank & Ernest, Red Ryder) began distributing the daily Born Loser on May 10, 1965, and the Sunday version on June 27 of the same year. It caught on fast, and within a few years had ascended to the rarefied heights of four-figure circulation — that is, it was appearing in more than 1,000 newspapers. It's currently distributed to about 1,300, in 35 countries, and translated into nine languages.

Art Sansom, its creator, worked on a few minor strips before launching this one, including Chris Welkin, Planeteer and Vic Flint. His son, Chip, who was 14 years old when The Born Loser began, became his assistant in 1979, and started signing the strip with him in the mid-1980s. The elder Sansom died in 1991, and Chip continues to write and draw the strip today.


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Text ©2005-10 Donald D. Markstein. Art © Newspaper Enterprise Association.