Mike and Ike, from the cover of Comic Monthly #2. Artist: Rube Goldberg.


Original medium: Newspaper comics
Distributed by: World Color Printing Co.
First Appeared: 1907
Creator: Rube Goldberg
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In a visual medium like cartoons, identical twins seem like a natural motif. In fact, their use goes back to the early days of the last century, just a little more than a decade after comics became a prominent part of Americam newspapers. Rube Goldberg, most famous for his fabulous inventions, introduced Mike & Ike (They Look Alike) on September 29, 1907, anticipating DC Comics'

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Dover & Clover, Terrytoons' Heckle & Jeckle and all the rest. In fact, they were Goldberg's own breakthrough feature, predating Lala Palooza, Bobo Baxter and even his first big hit, Foolish Questions.

Mike & Ike started while Goldberg was in San Francisco, working as sports cartoonist for that city's Bulletin (where he'd replaced another great, Thomas A. "Tad" Dorgan, creator of Judge Rummy and his pals). The identical twin morons were originally done as a half-page Sunday series for World Color Printing Co., which later printed most of America's comic books. At the time, it was functioning as both a printer and a syndicate for Sunday comics, distributing Slim Jim, Major Ozone and several others.

They didn't have much impact there, but the concept hung around. For years afterward, Goldberg often slipped Mike & Ike panels, in which they played straight man and gag man, onto the ends of his daily comics, keeping them in the public eye. They were well enough known to have starred in the second issue of Comic Monthly (February, 1922) a short-lived magazine that reprinted various King Features offerings, such as Polly & Her Pals in #1 and S'matter, Pop? in #3. Tho it didn't use what later became the standard format for comic books, Comic Monthly, which flitted across the publishing scene in a single year, long predated Famous Funnies as America's first periodic comic book.

In the late 1920s, Goldberg asserted they were uncles of Boob McNutt, and they became supporting characters in Boob's Sunday page. That was also approximately when they made their big move out of comics. Universal Pictures (which later distributed the cartoons of Walter Lantz) released Dancing Fools, their first movie, on September 21, 1927.

Of course, actors Charles King (as Mike) and Charles Dorety (as Ike) were made up to, as the title goes, look alike. But inasmuch as King was noticeably taller than Dorety, make-up could only go so far. But they played the parts only in eight of the 24 "Mike & Ike" comedy shorts (which ended with Good Skates, released August 28, 1929). Most of the time the parts were played by Joe Young and Ned La Salle, respectively, so possibly the series was salvaged. (By the way, Young and La Salle had no other toon connections, but King was later in movies about Superman, Congo Bill and others; and Dorety had parts in Mandrake the Magician and Dick Tracy serials. Both were in Tailspin Tommy.)

After Boob McNutt folded and the film series ran its course, Mike & Ike faded from view. They were long gone by 1940, when the Just Born candy company introduced a jellybean-like confection with that name. But the name was just a coincidence. Goldberg had moved on to other endeavors.


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Text ©2007 Donald D. Markstein. Art ©: "Mike & Ike" is in the public domain. This image has been modified. Modified version © Donald D. Markstein.