Jeff drives into the sound of gunfire. Artist: Pete Hoffman.

JEFF COBB

Medium: Newspaper comics
Distributed by: General Features Corp.
First Appeared: 1954
Creator: Pete Hoffman
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The years following World War II were not kind to story comics in American newspapers. There were some notable postwar successes, such …

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… as Steve Canyon and The Heart of Juliet Jones, but it was nothing like the prewar years, when Dick Tracy, Terry & the Pirates and many more got their starts.

Jeff Cobb wasn't as great a success as Steve Canyon or Juliet Jones — or Rip Kirby, Mary Perkins On Stage or a lot of other successful postwar story comics, for that matter, but it did succeed. For almost a quarter of a century, it steadily delivered excitement and thrills to readers of as many as a hundred newspapers around the country.

Cartoonist Pete Hoffman, Jeff's creator, got his start with in ccomics with a lengthy stint as ghost artist of the Steve Roper comic, back when Steve's partner in adventure was Big Chief Wahoo, not Mike Nomad. His drawing of the series was credited to co-creator Elmer Woggon, whose style was deemed too cartoony to convey the more serious storylines the Roper feature was starting to turn to. This led to his 1950 take-over of the art on a daily panel called Why We Say, where each day, he'd illustrate a factoid about word origins. The distributor was General Features Corp., whose syndicated features included mostly columns and other prose offerings, but did handle an occasional comic such as Cotton Woods and Drift Marlo.

A few years later, he got ambitious to create a comic of his own. General Features head Gordon Little was on board with the idea of Hoffman doing his own strip. The result, the adventures of investigative reporter Jeff Cobb, who worked for his city's Daily Guardian, debuted from General Features on June 28, 1954, daily only. Tho Hoffman considered the story more important than the art to a comic's success, he met the challenge.

But when a Sunday was added in 1955, he began to find it hard to make his deadlines, especially since that ran a separate story from the dailies. He kept it up for a couple of years, then dropped the Sunday. It became a familiar part of the daily paper, but didn't try going to seven days again.

In the mid-1960s, Jeff sustained the injury that became identified with his appearance. He was sifting through the ashes of a burned building, looking for clues it had been destroyed by arson, when the roof suddenly caved in and took out his right eye. At least one assistant editor at the syndicate objected to making the injury permanent, but no readers did. From then on, like Johnny Dynamite, his distinctive look included an eye patch.

Jeff Cobb wasn't spun off into movies, TV shows or even comic books. But he stayed on the newspaper page, entertaining readers, until 1978. After that, Hoffman went into semi-retirement.

— DDM

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Text ©2009 Donald D. Markstein. Art © Watkins Syndicate.