Obscurity of the Day: Generals Who Became President

Since 1904 the NEA syndicate (NEA stands for Newspaper Enterprise Association) has provided a daily package of features for newspapers. Along with their regular menu of comics, columns, editorials, news stories and photos, they often add special bonus items for their subscribing newspapers. One of their popular bonuses used to be short run closed-end comic strips. Often these strips commemorated a holiday (NEA still distributes a special Christmas series each year), others graphically discussed hot topics in the news, or tales from history.

These specials had their heyday in the 40s and 50s, when NEA was issuing them quite often, as much as three or four per year. Here we see the first episode of Generals Who Became President, a graphical history of, well, what the title says. This was a particularly short series, running just seven episodes from 1/12 – 1/19/1953. Most such special offerings lasted 2-4 weeks. This series was timed to run the week before the presidential inauguration of one Dwight Eisenhower. Art was by Ed Kudlaty, story by Ray Ellis.

Surprisingly enough, many subscribing papers did not run these specials, making them very tough to document for Stripper’s Guide. Ironically, the newer ones are the toughest to find. Even the otherwise excellent NEA archives housed at Ohio State University’s Cartoon Research Library has few of these special strips represented.

7 comments on “Obscurity of the Day: Generals Who Became President

  1. my grandfather Ed Kudlaty worked for NEA for many years. he was a phenominal artist and i have many of his comics/drawings at home.

  2. Hi Anon –
    I’m sure eveyone reading the blog would love for you to share some info about your granddad. According to my records he contributed the art on just three of these closed-end strips. What other work was he doing at NEA, and did he do cartooning elsewhere as well?


  3. he (edward kudlaty) did a lot of political cartoon work… won quite a few awards for them, though he never talked about that much. somewhere in there he did artwork for a kit karson comic. he also was the court artist for the sam sheppard trial. long link http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/S?pp/ils:@FILREQ(@OR(@field(AUTHOR+@od1(Kudlaty,+Ed,+1916-+artist+))+@field(OTHER+@od1(Kudlaty,+Ed,+1916-+artist+)))+@FIELD(COLLID+cph)
    from what i gather he did a little bit of everything during his time with NEA. always doing his own art on his own time.
    in addition he had a portrait of pope pius XII that was the cover of time/newsweek(cant remember which). i believe it was in 58. after the closing of the cleveland nea branch and subsequent early retirement he continued with watercolors (think french impressionist stye), oils and woodcarving until his death in 2007 at the age of 91.

  4. Ironically, I worked with Ed's grand daughter in early 04-05. I bragged about a beautiful snowy farm type painting the my siblings argued about "who would get" that hung over the fireplace. It turns out Ed shared the same house number a couple of streets away as my in-laws. My father in law worked for several newspapers wrote "Woman's Wear Daily" at some point in time. Ed & dad founded the church in in their neighborhood. I showed Ed's grand daughter the painting and she said "Oh yes, that's my grandpa's painting." She told me he put tons of artwork in the attic and was focusing on wood carvings, which I can only image are terrific! BTW: The beautiful painting is now hanging over my fireplace!

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