Will-Yum and friend. Artist: Dave Gerard.


Medium: Newspaper comics
Distributed by: National News Syndicate
First Appeared: 1953
Creator: Dave Gerard
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The amusing adventures of little boys have been prominent in comics since the very early days, as shown by, among others, Little Jimmy, by James Swinnerton. To judge from Marvel's recent comics starring Fantastic Four offspring Franklin Richards, even modern superhero producers aren't immune to that type of protagonist's appeal. A major attraction of Will-Yum,

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… a syndicated newspaper comic by cartoonist Dave Gerard, was that it starred a little boy. That's what sustained the strip for almost a decade and a half.

Dave Gerard was making his living as a freelance cartoonist for Colliers, The Saturday Evening Post and other nationally-distributed magazines, starting in the 1920s and '30s. Will-Yum started out as a recurring character in cartoons he did for The Women's Home Companion.

Meanwhile, starting on January 9, 1950, he did a panel called Viewpoint for The National News Syndicate, a very small comics distributor with corporate ties to The John F. Dille Co., which had handled Buck Rogers and Skyroads. On March 3, 1952, the title was changed, for unknown reasons, to the rather ungainly It's All in the Point of View. (Comics historian Allan Holtz, discoverer of Bobby the Boy Scout, speculates this move, which he characterized as "hardly a marketing plus", was probably made in response to a writer's complaint that it duplicated his own title.) In 1953, whatever the title, its plug was pulled.

The syndicate replaced it with Will-Yum, converted from a single panel to a full-fledged daily strip. The earlier cartoon, which contrasted different ways of seeing the same event, seems to have struck readers as overly wordy, but little boys and their everyday neighborhood adventures never go out of style. This series met with much more widespread acceptance.

It wasn't exactly awash in media spin-offs, but it did spawn a comic book. Between 1956 and '58, Dell Comics devoted three issues of Four Color Comics, the title where the company placed Tiny Tim, Lolly & Pepper, Morty Meekle and just about everything else it had that wasn't quite strong enough to hold down a monthly title of its own, to Will-Yum. Gerard handled the scripts and art himself.

In the newspapers, Will-Yum lasted until 1966. After that, Gerard replaced it with Citizen Smith, a comic about an ordinary guy, the "everyman" whom most readers could identify with. That ran until 1984, after which Gerard, by then in his middle 70s, retired.


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Text ©2009-10 Donald D. Markstein. Art © Dave Gerard estate.