The Born Loser

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The Born Loser
The Born Loser Logo.png
The Born Loser logo (used on Sunday strips)
Author(s)Art Sansom (1965–1991); Chip Sansom (1989–present)
Current status/scheduleDaily
Launch dateMay 10, 1965
Syndicate(s)Newspaper Enterprise Association
Genre(s)Humor, family life, work

The Born Loser is a newspaper comic strip created by Art Sansom in 1965. His son, Chip Sansom, who started assisting on the strip in 1989, is the current artist. The strip is distributed by Newspaper Enterprise Association. The Sansoms won the 1987 National Cartoonists Society Humor Comic Strip Award and the 1990 Newspaper Comic Strip Award.[1]


Art Sansom created The Born Loser after spending 20 years churning out the illustrations on his syndicate's serious strips. He originally titled it The Loser, but under the urging of the syndicate, renamed it The Born Loser. The dailies started May 10, 1965 while the Sundays premiered on June 27.[2] Initially, the strip had no recurring characters but now focuses on the Thornapple family and the few people in their lives.


Main characters[edit]

Brutus Perry "Thorny" Thornapple – As the name of the comic implies, he's a born loser. He simply can't get a break, whether it involves his job, his family, or just plain everyday life. He's rather old-fashioned, perhaps explaining why the modern times seem to be running him over. His birthday is November 29, 1951, though the May 10, 2011 edition proclaimed it to be his 46th birthday.

Gladys "Hornet" Thornapple – Brutus's wife, she's even more old fashioned than Brutus and doesn't seem to be very bright, especially with popular culture or technology. Taller than Brutus, with blond hair, she's rather similar to Edith "Dingbat" Bunker. She can be a bit critical of Brutus, often scolding him or getting into fights with him that he simply cannot win. Nevertheless, their relationship always seems to be intact.

Wilberforce Thornapple – The son of the Thornapple family, he's a very curious boy who looks up to his father and often turns to him for advice. He is friends with his neighbor Hurricane Hattie and enjoys baseball, but he's not very good at it. He currently wears his blond hair in a crew cut but in the 1970s, when boys and men tended to wear much longer hair, he wore his hair in sausage curls, and wore sailor-type suits with shorts. His appearance looked much more boyish with the new hairstyle as his wardrobe was updated with jeans, sweatshirts, and tennis shoes.

Secondary characters[edit]

Rancid W. "Rank" Veeblefester – Brutus's boss, a rich tycoon. A very cranky, unpleasant man, he works in an office surrounded by money bags and doesn't seem to do any real work. He always scolds Brutus for being incompetent and seems to enjoy tormenting him. He loves to give a seemingly nice remark to Brutus to get his hopes up, and then turn it around as an insult (one example being that the only empty cubicle in the entire office belongs to Brutus). It's often a wonder how Brutus, who dubs him "Chief," manages to escape being fired by him; this implies that Veeblefester is satisfied with Brutus' work and simply enjoys terrorizing him. Even in their home lives, nothing changes (such as when Brutus wants to borrow the lawnmower and Veeblefester tells him not to take it out of the yard). His wife's name is "Lividea",[3] a play on the word "livid"; presumably she is as unpleasant as her husband. The character's name is a variation on veeblefetzer, a word popularized in the 1950s by Harvey Kurtzman in early issues of Mad.

Ramona Gargle – Gladys's mother. A stereotypical mother-in-law, she often visits to pepper Brutus with insults and emotional anguish and criticizes Brutus over his weight. However, Brutus does occasionally gets his own jibes back at "Mother Gargle".

"Hurricane" Hattie O'Hara – The mischievous girl next door, she delights in menacing pretty much any adult she encounters, namely Brutus and her teacher.

Other characters regularly featured are the Thornapple family dog, Kewpie; Miss Fungus, Wilberforce and Hattie's school teacher; and Wastrel P. Gravesite, a bum who regularly hounds Brutus for money.

Kewpie the Dog – Voice of reason, basically the Thornapple version of Garfield.

Uncle Ted – Brutus's uncle, who often visits to hang out with him at dinner and watch TV with him.

Elmer Twit – Brutus's cousin, who died and sent Brutus a letter.[4]


Brutus insult jokes to Gladys[edit]

A common theme occurs in the strip where Gladys celebrates Mother's Day or explains the homework topics to their son Wilberforce, and Brutus often replies with an insult joke which often annoys Gladys. Also Brutus and Gladys are often arguing to each other in the recurrence.

Canyon echo's different replies[edit]

The comic features Brutus yelling into the canyon with the echo often laughing at him or hearing different words coming at him.

Bad customer service[edit]

Another common theme that occurs is the bad customer service Brutus, Veeblefester, or Gladys gets when they order food or coffee.

Golf course game[edit]

Another common theme is Brutus going out on the golf course and playing golf with either his coworkers or his boss Veeblefester. Brutus often has bad luck playing golf and is made fun of for losing the game.

Fat shaming[edit]

The strip often features a recurring theme of fat shaming where Brutus is criticized for being overweight by Ramona Gargle and Veeblefester, who tell him to go on a diet. Also, Brutus and Gladys are commonly told to lose weight or go on a diet when they go to the doctor's office.

Bullying at work[edit]

The strip often features bullying at work where Brutus confronts his boss Veeblefester and threatens to quit his job, but always gets roped into staying. Sometimes Brutus tries to get out of work and play golf instead.

Hurricane Hattie prank visits[edit]

Hurricane Hattie is often portrayed as a schoolgirl with a short skirt and school hat as seen in the 1960s outfits. She often pranks Brutus and her school teachers. She is best friends with Wilberforce even though they fight with each other.

Wilberforce's life[edit]

Wilberforce is the son of Brutus and Gladys. He often asks Brutus and Ted for advice. He hates doing homework and tries to get out of school. He is friends with Hurricane Hattie, even though they fight with each other.


On November 1, 2021, Chip Sansom took a two-month sabbatical from the daily requirements of producing the strip due to the unexpected surgery he underwent. As a result, The Born Loser panels were temporary reruns from past strips. On December 27, 2021, he returned to the daily strips. Later on in January 30, 2022, he returned to the Sunday strips.[5]


  1. ^ NCS Awards National Cartoonist Society, 2008, Retrieved November 30, 2010
  2. ^ Holtz, Allan (2012). American Newspaper Comics: An Encyclopedic Reference Guide. Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press. p. 80. ISBN 9780472117567.
  3. ^ "The Born Loser Comic Strip". August 4, 2013. Retrieved August 6, 2013.
  4. ^ "Pin on Genealogy".
  5. ^ "Healthwatch: Mallard Fillmore, the Born Loser". November 30, 2021.

External links[edit]