From the cover of a book collection. Artist: Clare Briggs.

MR. AND MRS.

Original Medium: Newspaper comics
Published by: The New York Herald
First Appeared: 1919
Creator: Clare Briggs
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By 1919, the domestic comedy — the genre that on TV, we call sitcom — was well on its way to becoming an established part of every newspaper's comics line-up. Both Toots & Casper and The Bungle Family had started the year before, joining Keeping Up with the Joneses and Bringing Up Father on the …

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… comics page — to say nothing of George Herriman's The Dingbat Family. But as yet, nobody had laid claim to that quintessential domestic title, Mr. & Mrs., for a comic strip.

That lack was remedied on Sunday, April 12, 1919, when The New York Herald (Betty, Mr. Twee Deedle) launched a nationally-syndicated, seven-day comic of that hame. The cartoonist behind it was Clare Briggs, who had already achieved at least a footnote in comics history with A. Piker Clerk, then went on to create When a Feller Needs a Friend, Danny Dreamer and more. His longest-lasting and most famous comic was Mr. & Mrs.

"Mr." was Joe Green, and "Mrs." was his wife, Vi. They also had a young son named Roscoe. Joe and Vi argued a lot. They weren't as bad as Leroy and Loretta Lockhorn, but their relationship was characterized more by mutual antagonism than affection. Neither was especially good-looking, or appealing in any other way. They were middle-aged and dumpy, and seldom made clever or interesting remarks, unless you count their barbs at each other. Roscoe was de-emphasized except in the early years, and virtually disappeared as the series went on.

Briggs was in his mid-30s when he started cartooning about Joe and Vi trading zingers; and he kept it up for the rest of his life.

He died in 1930, only 54 years of age but having long since become one of America's most beloved comics creators. The Herald got his his long-time friend, former drama critic Arthur Folwell, to replace him as scripter. For the art, they got Frank Fogarty (Clarence) for the Sunday page and Ellison Hoover (Outline of Oscar) for the daily. In 1947, comic book man Kin Platt (Supermouse) took over both.

Mr. & Mrs. ended in 1963.

— DDM

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Text ©2010 Donald D. Markstein. Art © Clare Briggs estate.