THE OUTBURSTS OF EVERETT TRUEMedium: Newspaper comics
Distributed by: Newspaper Enterprise Association
First Appeared: 1905
Creators: A.D. Condo and J.W. Raper
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reluctant to express, they turn to Bitchy Bitch. In the early part of the 20th century, the character who occupied that position in the hearts of his fans was Everett True.
Everett True was about as big across as he was tall, and his clothing (which he never varied) was retro even then. He was often seen smoking a short cigar (sometimes used by artists of the time to indicate short temper) and/or carrying an umbrella (useful for bashing those unlucky enough to appear in his strip). His story formula was simplicity itself. Panel one, something makes him angry (aside from personal inconvenience, his peeves included hypocrisy and cruelty to animals); panel two, he lashes out at the source of his irritation (often both physically and, in extravagant but not uncertain terms, verbally). There was no panel three. The only variation on the theme was when Mrs. True appeared — when that happened, she took his role and Ev became the victim.
A Chapter from the Career of Everett True, as the series was originally titled (it was quickly shortened to The Outbursts of Everett True), was created by A.D. Condo and J.W. Raper. It first appeared on July 22, 1905, a Saturday. (Back then, there was no requirement that a non-Sunday cartoon appear every weekday — that trend started two years later, with Mutt & Jeff.) It was distributed by Newspaper Enterprise Association, a mid-size syndicate that also handled Out Our Way, Alley Oop, Our Boarding House and various others over the years.
Everett True ran a couple of decades, ending in 1927 when Condo had to give it up for health reasons. It was fairly popular at the time, and samples of it were reprinted in two collections (1907 and 1921). It was even spun off into a brief series of silent comedies from American Bioscope Films, the first of which was released on May 14, 1916. But it seems to have made little long-lasting impact on the toon world — it isn't even mentioned in such early comics histories as Martin Sheridan's Comics & Their Creators and Coulton Waugh's The Comics; and there are no known surviving prints of his movies.
But the character was eventually rediscovered. One of the collections was reprinted in 1983, sparking a minor flurry of new interest in Ev. He'd long since fallen into the public domain, so others were free to use him — and comic book writer Tony Isabella (creator of Black Lightning, The Champions and It, the Living Colossus), collaborating with several artists, did. Isabella's new series ran for a time in Comics Buyer's Guide, the industry trade paper, and later in Comics Journal, a magazine devoted to review and criticism of the field. In it, Ev — looking the same as ever, right down to the striped pants and bowler hat — turned out to be a comic book fan, and his outbursts were directed at the infuriating practices of the artists, writers, publishers, distributors, etc. who make up the comics community. When fans were the targets of outrage, naturally, it was Mrs. True who delivered the "punch" line.
Since then, Ev's name (tho not his image) has been appropriated by a music critic, presumably because his criticisms resemble his namesake's righteous attacks. In comics, he's gone back to limbo — but the popularity of the revival indicates that his is a message which speaks to generation after generation.