Little Dot.

LITTLE DOT

Medium: Comic books
Published by: Harvey Comics
First Appeared: 1949
Creator: Vic Herman
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Little Dot started as a lowly back-up feature, written and drawn by cartoonist Vic Herman, in several of Harvey Comics' licensed titles. But as the first of the …

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… publisher's "kid with a quirk" characters, she was a harbinger of the direction the entire company would take during the 1950s and beyond.

Dot's first appearance (along with her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Polka) was in Sad Sack #1 (September, 1949), a comic book based on a newspaper strip. A month later, she appeared in the back pages of Humphrey and Little Max, both of which were spin-offs of Harvey's long-running comic-book version of Joe Palooka, another syndicated newspaper strip. Over the next few years, she continued to appear in those titles, as well as Jiggs & Maggie and a few others, on a regular basis. For such a one-note character (Little Dot likes things with dots, and that's it), one would think even that would constitute remarkable success.

But Harvey Comics was to make a career out of such one-note characters as Casper the Friendly Ghost, Jackie Jokers, Wendy the Good Little Witch, etc. In 1953, they re-designed Little Dot, making her softer, rounder and cuter, and gave her a comic of her own — and both of the one-note characters they introduced there as back-up series, Little Lotta (who eats a lot) and Richie Rich (whose family has a big pile of money) went on to become stars in their own right.

Unlike most of the Harvey characters, Little Dot added a second note to her repertoire. Early on, it turned out she had an endless supply of oddball uncles and aunts, most of whom she'd never met until they showed up in the comics, and all of whom were as obsessive, about one thing or another, as was Dot herself. Each of these characters was a one-note too, but since they were all different notes, and since none appeared in more than one story, they added some variety to the series — not an excessive amount of variety, since meeting these relatives and learning about their eccentricities became a rigid formula in itself — but some.

Dot's weird relatives even headlined comics of their own — "Little Dot's Uncles" was the theme of three issues of Harvey Hits (1957, '58 and '59); and from 1961-74, Harvey published an extra-thick comic titled Little Dot's Uncles & Aunts.

Little Dot lasted decades as a comics star; but by the 1980s, it was getting hard for a comic book company that had no popular superheroes to sustain itself. Dot's comics, along with the rest of the Harvey titles, went on hiatus from 1982-86, and ceased entirely in 1994. And she never did become a star outside of comic books.

Harvey is still in business, with plans to exploit its long-lasting characters. Little Dot's chances in the modern world may seem spotty at best, but she's long since proven that repetition and formula are no barriers to her success.

— DDM

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Text ©2000-07 Donald D. Markstein. Art © Harvey Entertainment.