Reg'lar Fellers was a long-running newspaper comic strip adapted into a feature film, a radio series on NBC, and two animated cartoons. Created by Gene Byrnes (1889-1974), the comic strip offered a humorous look at a gang of suburban children (who nevertheless spoke like New York street kids). Syndicated from 1917 to 1949, Byrnes' strip was collected into several books.
While working as a sports cartoonist with the New York Telegram, Byrnes created his cartoon panel It's a Great Life If You Don't Weaken which introduced the Reg'lar Fellers characters in 1917. He began Wide Awake Willie as a New York Herald Sunday page in 1919, and this too featured Reg'lar Fellers characters. With Reg'lar Fellers distributed by the Bell Syndicate as a daily strip in 1920, Byrnes changed the name of the Sunday strip to Reg'lar Fellers. At its peak, the strip was syndicated in 800 newspapers. It was imitated by other strips, notably Ad Carter's Just Kids.
Characters and story
The characters include leader Jimmy Dugan, sidekick Puddinhead Duffy, Puddinhead's little brother Pinhead, Bullseye the dog and the gang's girl member, Angie Riley. Reg'lar Fellers had at least two topper strips—Daisybelle and Zoolie.
Cupples & Leon published four collections of Reg'lar Fellers reprints between 1921 and 1929. Two Big Little Books, from different publishers, were published during the 1930s. Reg'lar Fellers Story Paint Book was published by Whitman in 1932. One curious hardcover book published during World War II brought together colorful Reg'lar Fellers episodes of kids playing soldiers in backyards with black-and-white WWII combat photographs.
In addition to book reprints and comic books, the strip was adapted to both animation and live-action films.
Walter Lantz also produced an animated short, Boy Meets Dog, an unreleased 1938 commercial for Ipana toothpaste. It eventually got released on the home-movie market (with the Ipana toothpaste billboard scene removed) by Castle Films.
Reg'lar Fellers of America was an athletic organization founded by Clair F. Bee, the Director of Health Education at Long Island University. Reg'lar Fellers of America was planned to develop summer recreation for 12 to 15-year-olds through competitive sports, and Eastern Color Printing's Reg'lar Fellers Heroic Comics promoted the organization to the nation's youth beginning in 1940. Reg'lar Fellers remained in the title logo for the first 15 issues, which also displayed a seal with an eagle and a shield along with the words "Reg'lar Fellers of America". "The Official Publication of Reg'lar Fellers" was the cover blurb until issue 15; the title was shortened to Heroic Comics with issue 16.
In other comic books, Reg'lar Fellers was reprinted in Dell's Popular Comics beginniing in #9 (November, 1936), which also featured reprints of Dick Tracy, Tailspin Tommy, Winnie Winkle and other strips. Reg'lar Fellers next appeared in the first issue (April, 1939) of DC's All-American Comics. Standard Comics published two issues of Reg'lar Fellers in its own 1946-47 title.
The Reg'lar Fellers comedy radio series, sponsored by Jello, aired Sunday nights on NBC from June 8, 1941 to August 31, 1941, as a summer replacement for The Jack Benny Program. Dickie Van Patten and Dickie Monahan starred as Jimmy and Dinky Dugan. Others in the cast included Joyce Van Patten, Patsy O'Shea and Skippy Homeier.
Branding also extended to such items as baseball bats and breakfast cereal.