At eight o’clock Wednesday morning, Sept. 25, Merrill Blosser, NEA service creator-cartoonist of “Freckles and his Friends,” sat down to his drawing board and began working on his strip. He sketched until two that afternoon, covered his board and relaxed. It was his way of observing “Freckles” and himself entering their 25th year as a daily newspaper feature.
“Freckles” made his first appearance in strip form (he had appeared a few weeks earlier as a panel) on Sept. 20, 1915, and very few of the present-day readers would be able to recognize him. When he made his newspaper bow, “Freckles” was about six or seven years old. Now he is 17, a high school senior, and captain of the football team.
Blosser Is NEA “Old-Timer”
In point of service, Blosser is the “old-timer” among NEA Service comic artists, “Freckles” being the oldest NEA strip. Yet Blosser, in his middle forties, looks 10 years younger both in his appearance and outlook. Enthusiastic, he has the drive and love for fun of the high school youngsters he draws.
His chief hobby, he tells you, is “living.” He likes to take moving pictures, to go to football games, to mingle with kids, go for long automobile drives, which he and his wife do several times a week.
He closes up shop every day at about two in the afternoon, which leaves him the rest of the day for recreation.
Because he is able to do this, Blosser is the envy of virtually every other comic artist of his acquaintance, not one of whom has been able to master the deadline bugaboo the way he has.
Has Licked Deadline Bugaboo
In nearly a quarter of a century of drawing for daily publication, Blosser never has permitted himself to get behind. He tells you that he realized early in his career that he would never have any fun, or peace of mind, unless he licked the deadline problem at the start by staying religiously ahead of his schedules.
Consequently, he sets aside a certain period each day for drawing and planning and sticks to it as meticulously as though he were punching a time-clock in an office.
The NEA cartoonist was born in Nappanee, Ind., where he grew up in a small town community much like the Shadyside locale of “Freckles and His Friends.” For the last dozen years or so he and his wife have lived in Los Angeles.
Blosser’s daily strip now is used by more than 500 newspapers, while his Sunday page appears in 130, NEA says.
Note from Allan: actually Freckles and his Friends debuted on August 16, 1915.