Little Joe (comic strip)

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Little Joe
Author(s) Ed Leffingwell
Current status / schedule Sunday (ended)
Launch date October 1, 1933
End date 1972
Syndicate(s) Chicago Tribune Syndicate
Genre(s) Western

Little Joe was a Western comic strip, created in the early 1930s by Ed Leffingwell and later continued by his brother, Robert Leffingwell. Distributed by the Chicago Tribune Syndicate, this Sunday strip had a long run spanning four decades. It was never a daily strip.

Ed Leffingwell's cousin was Harold Gray, and he began in comics as Gray's assistant on Little Orphan Annie, which explains why the artwork on Little Joe curiously resembled Little Orphan Annie. Little Joe began October 1, 1933, but Ed Leffingwell worked on the strip for only three years. When he died in 1936, Bob Leffingwell (also a Gray assistant) stepped in, continuing the strip until its conclusion in 1974. The resemblance to Little Orphan Annie began to fade away during the 1950s.

Characters and story[edit]

Comics historian Don Markstein described the storyline:

Joe Oak was 13 years old, though he looked younger, especially at first. He was an only child and his father had been murdered, leaving him and Mom to run the Oak Ranch by themselves. They were assisted by a white-moustached man named Utah, who had been a gunslinger in his youth. Utah was their foreman and, when times were rough, only employee. He assumed the paternal role when it came to teaching Joe proper behavior for a man, and the survival skills he'd need to become one. Other than that, the strip was populated by outlaws, corrupt businessmen and politicians, Indians both good and bad, and similar staples of the genre. Later on, an old friend of Utah's, a charming rogue known only as "Ze Gen'ral", joined the cast... helping the protagonists out of jams and occasionally (when opportunity permitted) cheating them.[1]

Eventually, Ze Gen'ral became a topper strip above Little Joe.

Bob Leffingwell continued to work on Little Orphan Annie as well as Little Joe, which was reprinted in Dell's Popular Comics, Super Comics and Dell's Four Color Comics series (1942). A CD-ROM reprinting early Little Joe strips was released in 2002.


  1. ^ Little Joe at Don Markstein's Toonopedia, Archived from the original on September 3, 2015.