Dinglehoofer prepares for an ordeal, as Taddy looks on. Artist: H.H. Knerr.


Original Medium: Newspaper comics
Distributed by: King Features Syndicate
First Appeared: 1926
Creator: Harold H. Knerr
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Companies that sell to the public tend to want to advertise more for the consumers' money, but at the same time the companies generally don't like paying for it. Newspapers in the early decades of the 20th century were caught in that dilemma — listing more Sunday comics in their …

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… promotional materials translated into selling more papers, but with Sunday comics usually taking up a whole page, adding them could be expensive. In the mid-1920s, King Features Syndicate devised a solution — get the cartoonist to devote a small part of his page to a second comic; thus, two could be advertised for each page the newspaper printed. Other syndicates followed suit, and the topper quickly became a standard part of the funnies section. King's Thimble Theatre added John Sappo, which metamorphosed into O.G. Wotasnozzle; Bringing Up Father added Rosie's Beau, which was eventually replaced with Snookums; and The Katzenjammer Kids added Dinglehoofer und His Dog.

May 16, 1926 was the day the Katzies stopped being a full-page feature — the same day Barney Google added Parlor, Bedroom & Sink, by the way. The Dinglehoofer series had at least one thematic element in common with the main comic, poking fun at German immigrants, in a way that would probably not be acceptable today despite the fact that no offense was intended or, apparently, taken. The main human character, a bachelor in late middle age, spoke perfectly understandable English, but still retained his accent. Several variations of the title were used over the years, including anglicizing the conjunction. During the early '30s, it sometimes included the name of the dog, Adolph.

Political correctitude first reared its head in 1936, when the rise of Adolph Hitler made Americans less comfortable with cute, cuddly (if humorously mischievous) characters named Adolph. That's when a dachshund named Schnappsy was added to the cast, and Adolph was written out. Other cast members included an orphan boy called Taddy (short for "Tadpole" (no relation) Doogan, who came to live with "Mr. Dingy" (as he called the protagonist) in 1934. Lily, a very badly stereotyped black woman, did the household's cooking and cleaning, but she wasn't seen too often.

Dinglehoofer and Adolph were popular enough to be featured in one big little book during the early 1930s; and during the following decade, his adventures with Schnappsy were reprinted, along with other King Features characters such as Henry and Mandrake, in Magic Comics.

World War II paper shortages made full-page Sunday comics much more scarce, and toppers began to fall by the wayside. Some hung on for a few years, but the last of them succumbed to shrinking comics sections during the 1950s. Dinglehoofer und His Dog ended in 1951.


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Text ©2007-09 Donald D. Markstein. Art © King Features Syndicate.