Morty acting typical as Winthrop looks on. Artist: Dick Cavalli.


Medium: Newspaper comics
Distributed by: Newspaper Enterprise Association
First Appeared: 1956
Creator: Dick Cavalli
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Comic strips about courtship haven't been all that common in the history of the medium, and with good reason — the situation is by …

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… no means stable. After a while, either they tie the knot (as Lulu & Leander, possibly the first of the genre, eventually did) or break up (a less satisfying, and therefore less frequent, outcome). One of the longer-lived, Rosie's Beau, didn't look all that long-lived at first, being one of the minor creations of George McManus before hitting it big with Bringing Up Father. What little success it had came during the 1930s, when it was revived as the scarcely noticeable topper to that strip's Sunday page.

Morty Meekle was a strip about courtship. The eponymous star was rather a laconic boyfriend, not officially engaged to Jill Wortle, but it was more-or-less assumed they eventually would be — especially by the elder Mr. and Mrs. Wortle, who evidentally thought it was high time their daughter became somebody else's responsibility. Morty wasn't in a very felicitous position as regards marriage, since his job (undefined but definitely low-level office worker, boss's name E.G. Boomer) didn't pay very much. The cast was rounded out by Jill's kid brother, Winthrop.

The strip was created by cartoonist Dick Cavalli, who started out freelancing in magazines before opting for the steady work of a daily strip. He launched it on on January 9, 1956 through Newspaper Enterprise Association, a syndicate that's been responsible for strips as prominent as Wash Tubbs and as run-of-the-mill as Priscilla's Pop. Morty's great media breakout was a Dell comic book, which came out in 1957.

This series got past the "stagnant relationship" problem by de-emphasizing it. Gradually, the focus shifted to Winthrop and his pals, chief among them the germophobic Spotless McPartland. They didn't go for much action humor, but got their laughs mostly through wry observation. On Feb. 27, 1967, Winthrop officially became the star.

As a kid strip, Winthrop continued under Cavalli until 1994. It ended May 14 of that year.


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Text ©2007 Donald D. Markstein. Art © Dick Cavalli.