Al Smith (cartoonist)
March 21, 1902|
Brooklyn, New York
|Died||November 24, 1986
Born in Brooklyn, New York, Smith was the art editor for the syndication department of the New York World from 1920 to 1930. Bud Fisher appeared to lose all interest in his Mutt and Jeff strip during the 1930s, and after his assistant Ed Mack died in 1932, the job of creating the strip fell to Al Smith. The strip retained Fisher's signature until his death, however, and not until December 7, 1954 was the strip signed by Smith.
In the introduction to Forever Nuts: The Early Years of Mutt & Jeff, comic strip historian Allan Holtz gave the following reason for the strip's longevity and demise:
- The strip's waning circulation got a shot in the arm in the 1950s when President Eisenhower sang its praises, and then again in the 1970s when a nostalgia craze swept the nation. It took the 1980s, a decade focused on the here and now, and a final creative change on the strip when even Al Smith had had enough, to finally allow the strip the rest it had deserved for decades.
Smith continued to draw the strip until 1980, when George Breisacher took over for its final two years. Smith also drew the strips Rural Delivery and Cicero's Cat, the topper strip accompanying Mutt and Jeff.
He died November 24, 1986.
Al Smith received the National Cartoonists Society's Humor Comic Strip Award in 1968 for his work on Mutt and Jeff.
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