SWEETIE PIEMedium: Newspaper comics
Distributed by: Newspaper Enterprise Association
First Appeared: 1954
Creator: Nadine Seltzer
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Comics about reasonably mischievous kids have been with us from the beginning, even if Hans and Fritz are disqualified on grounds of being more than reasonably mischievous. Little Jimmy is almost as old, and he's an example of a mostly-good kid who got in trouble a lot just because he had a kid's understanding of how things worked. Same with Buster Brown. Henry, Skippy, Little Lulu all stand as testament to the timeless appeal of kids and their kid-like ways in the comics. But the peak of the kid characters' popularity was probably the 1950s, when Dennis the Menace was the hottest thing on the
American funnies page (while the British Dennis wasn't doing too badly either), and editors were vying to get competing kid properties into print.
That was when Peanuts began its rise to fame, and Miss Peach started teaching students in that age group. In comic books, Li'l Jinx, Li'l Genius and Sugar & Spike all started, and Archie started being marketed in his Little Archie aspect.
But they weren't all well-known characters that made a real impact on the cartoon world. Some were more like Sweetie Pie, whom Newspaper Enterprise Association (Alley Oop, Frank & Ernest) launched without fanfare in 1954, and which provided laughs for a little over a dozen years, had a couple of very minor spin-offs, then was forgotten.
Sweetie Pie was created by cartoonist Nadine Seltzer, who isn't known for other work in the field. She was a typical kid with typical parents, except that when Dad joked about how nice it would be to send her far, far away, one got an impression he meant it. He wasn't the only one, either. Her teacher, Miss Fossle, wouldn't have minded sending her in particular, of all the kids in her class, far away. Her dog, Schultz, didn't express himself on the subject.
Sweetie Pie was apparently her actual name, not just a term of endearment she was called. Not only authority figures like Mom, Dad and Miss Fossle called her that, but also contemporaries like her pal Lester and the school bully Gas House did too.
Sweetie's first spin-off was a comic book from Ajax/Farrel (Phantom Lady, The Lone Rider), which lasted two issues in 1955-56. A third issue, designated #15, was published by Pines (Supermouse, Jetta of the 21st Century) in 1957. A couple of Sweetie Pie coloring books came out about the same time. Then Dell Comics got into the act, devoting two issues of Four Color Comics, #s 1165 and 1241, dated July 1961 and January '62, to Sweetie Pie.
A larger (but still minor) media spin-off was a pair of standard paperbacks published by Berkeley Books (Mopsy, Classics Illustrated) in the late 1950s and early '60s, titled Sweetie Pie and More Sweetie Pie. They're not exactly classics, but they went through several printings over the years and now stand as the principle way people remember the character at all.
NEA continued distributing Sweetie Pie to newspapers until 1967. After that, it sank without a trace.