Cover of Cairo's only comic book. Artist: Bob Oksner.


Medium: Newspaper comics
Distributed by: Associated Newspapers
First Appeared: 1945
Creator: Bob Oksner
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Like Little Orphan Annie, Miss Cairo Jones underwent a sex change before her newspaper comics debut. Annie had originally been …

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… Little Orphan Otto, but her syndicate's editor, Captain Joe Patterson, told creator Harold Gray to put a skirt on him.

Cairo Jones's name didn't change, but the character did start out male. The switch came when Bell Syndicate editor John Wheeler decided he liked the submission of cartoonist Bob Oksner (whose later work includes Leave It to Binky and some of the writing on Dondi), but wasn't really in the market for a strip about a two-fisted he-man like Steve Roper or Johnny Hazard. He'd rather the adventure hero be a good-looking woman, like Brenda Starr or Connie.

Oksner complied. "Miss" was added in front of the title (allegedly inspired by a contemporary Bell Syndicate offering, Miss Fury). Writer Jerry Albert was brought in to script the altered character. Miss Cairo Jones debuted from Associated Newspapers (a Bell subsidiary) on Sunday, July 29, 1945. Albert and Oksner made full use of her new gender — by the end of that first episode, they had her down to her underwear, just in time for a kidnapping attempt.

And so it went, with a daily strip added a year afterward. She didn't go to ridiculous extremes to get out of her clothes, like Sally the Sleuth or Jane, but she did tend to be wearing less at any given time on-stage than most male adventurers this side of Tarzan. Albert left the strip after its first year, but Oksner remained and became very adept at drawing the female form (as he showed a few years later in DC Comics' Lady Danger, Angel & the Ape etc.).

Despite this — or possibly because the cheesecake aspects overwhelmed the story values — Miss Cairo Jones was not a raging success, appearing in about a hundred papers at its very peak. Her only penetration into other media was a single comic book, published in 1945 by Croydon Publications, a very minor player in the industry. The strip ended before it was even two years old.

Bob Oksner went back to comic books, tho he did return to newspaper comics in the '50s when the TV show I Love Lucy was adapted into that form, and the '60s with another creation of his own, Soozi. Jerry Albert has no other known credits in comics.


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Text ©2004-06 Donald D. Markstein. Art © Bell Syndicate.