The crew poses beside the fabulous vehicle. Artist: Harry Grant Dart.


Medium: Newspaper comics
Appearing in: The New York World
First Appeared: 1908
Creator: Harry Grant Dart
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The 20th century's first couple of decades offered an environment in which fantasy-oriented comics could flourish in American newspapers' Sunday pages. Features like Little Nemo in Slumberland

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… and Mr. Twee Deedle, to name only a couple of prominent ones, abounded — and so did some serious obscurities. One of the obscuros was The New York World's fantasy comic, The Explorigator.

The World was the paper that later contributed such classics as Caspar Milkquetoast and Keeping Up with the Joneses to the cartoon field. Most of its surviving comics were picked up by United Feature Syndicate (Li'l Abner, Ferd'nand) when it folded, but that was still decades away in The Explorigator's time.

The comic was created in 1908 by cartoonist Harry Grant Dart, The World's art director. Dart's work in newspaper art departments precedes the use of photographs, rather than cartoons, to illustrate news stories. He also did the later (and even less famous) comic strips Boys Will Be Boys and The Joy Family, and contributed many cartoons to Punch, Judge and Life magazines.

The Explorigator itself was a fabulous vehicle, like The Blue Tracer or The Time Top (topper to Brick Bradford), which also starred in comics where the human characters were of less importance. It was an airship capable or going anywhere — in fact, its first voyage was to The Moon.

The fabulous vehicle was built by Admiral Fudge, who showed remarkable precocity in accomplishing such a task at his age, about 9 or 10. The admiral was also commander of the ship's crew, which consisted of boys about his own age. They were Detective Rubbersole, Maurice Mizzentop, Grenadier Shift, Nicholas Nohooks, Teddy Typewriter and Ah Fergetitt. The boys all dressed flamboyantly, looking and acting like adult functionaries, usually suggested by their names. Ah Fergetitt was the crew's Chinese stereotype.

The boys had wonderful adventures together, but not for long. The Explorigator lasted only 14 weeks.


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Text ©2010 Donald D. Markstein. Art: The Explorigator is in the public domain. This image has been modified. Modified version © Donald D. Markstein.