Archive | 12:04 am

The Saturday Comics: Ching Chow

27 Aug

August 27, 2011

Ching Chow was an unusual strip, in more ways than one. It wasn’t as much a strip as it was a daily fortune cookie. Each day, Ching Chow, in the midst of some strange predicament, would dispense some old-fashioned wisdom, philosophy, or aphorism. The strip began in 1927 and ran with little change until 1980 and it is easy to see why it ended. Ching Chow was a typical Chinese stereotype from back in the 1920’s and didn’t change much over the years. He was originally created by Sidney Smith and Stanley Link, but by the time it was over Henri Arnold was doing the strip. When Ching Chow was cancelled, it was apparently still popular enough that it was replaced by Meet Mr. Luckey, an almost identical though less-offensive Henri Arnold creation. Mr. Luckey seems to be a leprechaun, thus explaining the lucky aspect of his name, but in the strip I’ve included below he doesn’t seem very lucky.

Ching Chow was also unusual in that, at least in New York, it didn’t run in the comics section. It was an anomaly in the modern era because of its size. Unlike most other single-panel strips, this one was one newspaper column wide. That was a popular size in 1904, for example, because most papers didn’t have a comics section but could easily drop a comic panel into a column of newsprint. Today that makes it hard to fit into a comics page where all the other comics have standard sizes and Ching Chow/Meet Mr. Luckey don’t fit. In the New York Daily News it was always placed somewhere in the sports section among the statistics.

I have also included the only instance I found of a Ching Chow topper, placed at the bottom (yet still technically a “topper”) of a Tiny Tim strip. It is easy to see why Tiny Tim doesn’t run today. The Ching Chow strip below it is far better, playing off the panel borders for its gag.

I also really appreciate this patriotic strip from World War Two:

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