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Sam’s Strip: The Comic About Comics

J. Caleb Mozzocco

How on earth did Sam’s Strip, created by Mort Walker and his then-Beetle Bailey and Hi and Lois partner Jerry Dumas, fail to set the funny pages on fire back in 1961, so much so that the creators themselves decided to pull the plug 20 months later? The answer—provided through this complete collection of 500 strips—is that the time just wasn’t right. Well, it’s certainly right now.

The Details

Sam’s Strip: The Comic About Comics
Four stars
By Mort Walker and Jerry Dumas
Fantagraphics Books, $23
Sam’s Strip: The Comic About Comics

The premise was simple: Sam was a comic-strip character who owned and operated his own four-panel comic strip as if it was a business. The gags revolved around Sam and his assistant trying to think of a way to compete with other strips, berating artist Dumas, raiding the prop closet and, most memorably, interacting with other strip stars from the past and present. If it seemed like too much of an inside joke in the early ’60s, well, there are a lot more people on the inside now that we’re in a golden age of strip reprints.


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  • An offhand touch and the plot's peculiar circumstances help lighten the sometimes dark story.

  • The author's new collection is creepy, titillating and impossible to put down.

  • Art history as a continual unfolding of ideas and forms is just one of the author's concerns.

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