Ozark Ike was a newspaper comic strip about dumb but likable Ozark Ike McBatt, a youth from a rural area in the mountains. The strip was created by Rufus A. ("Ray") Gotto while he was serving in the Navy during World War II in Washington, D.C. as an illustrator for Navy instruction manuals.
Characters and story
Strong-but-simple Ike McBatt is from a hillbilly family living in the small backwoods community of Wildweed Run (pop. 49). Ozark Ike is an all-around athlete, playing baseball, football and basketball. Between seasons, he enters the boxing ring. 
Ozark Ike's girlfriend is Dinah Fatfield, whose family has been involved in a feud with the McBatt clan for several generations. As is evident in the names, this background situation was inspired by the Hatfield-McCoy feud.
Gotto is famous for using extreme perspectives to achieve great drama an action in sports. As such Ozark Ike attracted publisher Stephen Slesinger's attention. Slesinger also owned Red Ryder, King of the Royal Mounted, US and Canadian rights to Winnie-the-Pooh, and had exclusive licensing arrangements for other notable fictional characters including Tarzan and all of the NEA newspaper comics. Slesinger produced the cartoon for distribution through King Features Syndicate, and it debuted November 12, 1945.
One of the assistants on the strip was Fred Rhoads. Gotto left in 1954, but the strip continued until 1959 under Bill Lignante and George Olesen. Lignante was also a leading courtroom artist for network television, and is most famous as the artist who created hundreds of drawings of famous patrons that decorate the Palm Restaurants.
Gotto eventually went on to design the New York Mets logo.
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