SLIM JIM AND THE FORCEMedium: Newspaper comics
Distributed by: World Color Press
First Appeared: 1910
Creator: Charles (or George) Frink
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Road Runner/Coyote cartoons, which were all chase — no beginning, no end, just chase. But director Chuck Jones wasn't the first toon practitioner to eschew such niceties as motive, resolution etc., and "cut to the chase". Decades earlier, cartoonist George (or Charles — sources disagree) Frink was doing exactly that in newspaper comics.
Slim Jim was the star of a Sunday page created by Frink in 1910. It was distributed by World Color Press, the printing company for many Sunday comics sections, which distributed several features to its clients. These included Main Street by Gus Mager (Hawkshaw the Detective), Mike & Ike by Rube Goldberg (Boob Mcnutt) and Jolly Jingles by Dudley Fisher (Right Around Home). Slim Jim's schtick was, he was constantly being pursued by three policemen. They didn't appear to have individual names (tho the one in charge was addressed as "Cap"), but were collectively known as "The Force". The feature's name was sometimes given as Slim Jim & the Force.
Exactly why they were after Jim isn't entirely clear. They occasionally referred to him as a scofflaw, vicious criminal or the like, but he didn't seem to commit any actual crimes — in fact, it looked like he was just having fun. Whatever the reason, they were very persistent, running after him all over the countryside, through cities, even across oceans. Jim and his pursuers were frequently seen running through foreign lands, in every part of the world.
Jim wasn't quite a new character in 1910. As early as 1904, Frink had done a page for The Chicago Daily News about a hobo named Circus Solly, who looked and acted just like Jim; and the cops who chased Solly were just as similar to The Force. Just as Hogan's Alley became McFadden's Row of Flats and The Katzenjammer Kids became The Captain & the Kids when they switched publishers, Circus Solly became Slim Jim when it moved into syndication. Comics historians tend to treat them separately, and Slim Jim is by far the better known incarnation.
Frink died in 1912, but Slim Jim continued. It had already, the previous year, come under the direction of cartoonist Raymond Crawford Ewer. Ewer died in 1914, then it was taken over by Stanley Armstrong, who kept it as long as it lasted. It was Armstrong who brought the series to the height of its fame — which wasn't very high, because World Color Press distributed mostly to rural papers. It was quite popular, but didn't became as well known as comics with big-city exposure.
Slim Jim ended in 1937. None of the three cartoonists who worked on it is well remembered for any other work.