Obscurity of the Day: Jerry MacJunk

Walter Hoban’s first known syndicated strip was Jerry MacJunk from the North American Syndicate, publishers of the Philadelphia North American.

According to the World Encyclopedia of Comics, Hoban was born and bred in Philadelphia, and started as an office boy at the North American with no particular interest in pursuing a career in cartooning. However, his abilities in this area were noted and he was pressed into service as a sports cartoonist. In 1910, May 1st to be exact, he made the jump to the Sunday funnies with Jerry MacJunk. Hoban was just 20 years old.

Jerry was a put-upon everyman, a Born Loser type that has always been a fixture of the comics page. What distinguished this strip was Hoban’s energetic drawing style; a style that seemed to spring fully-formed from the young Hoban, and would serve him well over his 30 year newspaper cartooning career.

Jerry MacJunk was a successful strip, running every Sunday in the North American and their few syndicated client papers until January 11, 1914. The strip came to a halt when Hoban left Philadelphia for the higher paychecks of the Hearst organization in New York (not 1912 as claimed in Bill Blackbeard’s Hoban entry in the World Encyclopedia). There Hoban found much wider success with another Jerry, Jerry On The Job.

The Jerry MacJunk strip had a second life when World Color Printing obtained the rights to reprint much of the North American’s output of the early teens. The strip ran in the WCP preprint section from 1915-1918.

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