Cam O'Flage and co-workers.


Medium: Newspaper comics
Distributed by: Ledger Syndicate
First Appeared: 1918
Creator: A.E. Hayward
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From Tillie the Toiler to Cathy, the theme of working women has been a common one in the comics. Nowadays, even Blondie works (tho that's still not a major focus of her strip). In fact, women on the job have been part of the comics scene about as long as they've been a highly visible part of society as a whole. The first regular, syndicated comic set in an office full …

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… of females was Somebody's Stenog, by cartoonist Alfred Earle (better known as A.E.) Hayward, which began Monday, December 16, 1918.

In fact, it goes back a little farther. For six weeks in November-December, 1916, Hayward devoted his daily panel, Padded Cell, to a series titled "Somebody's Stenographer". When, two years later, he launched a full-length strip along those lines, he chose a snappier, slangier, shortened version for the title. The Sunday page began April 30, 1922. The distributor was The Ledger Syndicate, which also handled Hairbreadth Harry and a late incarnation of Lady Bountiful, and would later do War on Crime and Connie.

The Stenog in question was Miss Cam O'Flage, who didn't exactly live up to her name. A tall, slender, leggy blonde, she was unlikely to blend into the background in most settings. "Somebody" of the title was her boss, Sam Smithers, who owned the manufacturing company that employed Cam and her co-workers. These included best friend Mary Doodle (short and chubby) and rival stenographer Kitty Scratch (dark-haired and curvy). Most of the action took place in the office, but they'd occasionally venture out together, sometimes as far as Europe.

Some sources credit cartoonist Dink Shannon with Cam's creation, saying Hayward took over early on, but only after the strip was a going concern. This isn't supported by the best authorities. Actually, Shannon did a strip titled Sallie Snooks, Stenographer, in 1907, but doesn't seem to have had anything to do with Somebody's Stenog — or with anything else very far into the 19-teens, for that matter.

In any event, A.E. Hayward remained with Somebody's Stenog for years, finally relinquishing it, for health reasons, in 1933. Among the ghosts who did it for him afterward was Ray Thompson, who co-created Myra North, Special Nurse, about the same time. Officially, Hayward remained in control until his death in 1939. After that, the strip was taken over by Sam Nichols, who isn't well known for any other work in comics.

There were no movies, animated cartoons, radio shows or Big Little Books adapted from Somebody's Stenog. The only comic book appearances were a few reprints in early issues of Famous Funnies. The strip ended on Saturday, May 10, 1941.


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Text ©2005-10 Donald D. Markstein. Art © Ledger Syndicate.