Ponytail and Donald. Artist: Lee Holley.


Original Medium: Newspaper comics
Distributed by: Publishers Syndicate
First Appeared: 1960
Creator: Lee Holley
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For a guy who's practically unknown to the general public, cartoonist Lee Holley has done an awful lot of high-profile work, spanning an awful lot of years. He's done Bugs and Daffy, for …

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… example, in animation for Warner Bros. (Speedy Gonzales, Tweety Bird), in newspaper comics for Newspaper Enterprise Association (Wash Tubbs, Alley Oop), and in comic books for Gold Key (Woody Woodpecker, Pink Panther), without ever getting a credit for them either on screen or in print. And when, in 1960, King Features Syndicate (Popeye, Prince Valiant) accepted his proposal for a daily panel about a teenage girl, he'd already had years of experience in syndicated comics, drawing the Sunday Dennis the Menace for Hank Ketcham.

Ponytail was a late entry into the field of female, teenage comics protagonists, which included Penny, Teena and Emmy Lou, all of which were well established by then. In fact, Susie Q. Smith had already come and gone. But Ponytail (with her boyfriend, Donald) was a success, adding a Sunday version in 1963 and eventually reaching a peak of over 300 papers.

A couple of years later, Dell Comics published a series of Ponytail comic books, consisting of new stories. Holley did some of the work on it, but the bulk of it was by Frank Hill (Short Ribs). It ran 12 issues, with cover dates from September, 1962 through December, 1965. Starting a couple of years after that, its corporate sibling, Dell Books, published a series of paperbacks reprinting the panel. Between 1969 and '71, Charlton put out another eight issues of the comic book. In the '70s, Holley created a second teenage feature, Tom, Dick & Harriet, for Gold Key.

In newspapers, Ponytail ran steadily for more than a quarter of a century. But when, in 1989, King editor Bill Yates (the small society) informed Holley it was getting down into the marginally-viable circulation range, the cartoonist wasn't disappointed. It had had a good run, and he was ready to retire.

Since then, Lee Holley has concerned himself with flying his own airplane, giving talks about cartooning at local schools, an occasional painting, and that sort of thing. His advice to young cartoonists is to be ready at any time to move into another field, because things are changing too fast to count on this one.


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Text ©2007 Donald D. Markstein. Art © King Features.