Tailspin Tommy, Day 3

The start date of Tailspin Tommy is a bit of a mystery, mostly because Bell Syndicate was smart enough to have the strip numbered instead of dated. If a newspaper started the strip late it was no problem – just start at strip #1 and continue accordingly. This scheme became quite common with adventure strips, and it’s a pretty smart way of doing things. It completely eliminates the problem of a newspaper being interested in running the strip, but having to wait weeks or even months to pick it up so that they can start at the beginning of a new story.

The particular run of Tailspin Tommy that I’m scanning for this series is from the Seattle Times. They started the strip on May 23 1928, in the middle of the week. Other sources quote a start date of May 14th, and Ron Schwartz in The Funnies Paper claims a start date in April. The only start date I can document from primary sources being mid-week, I presume one of these other dates is more likely to be correct. Can anyone name a paper that started Tailspin Tommy before May 23rd?

4 comments on “Tailspin Tommy, Day 3

  1. No evidence (again), just counting backwards. The Spokane Daily Chronicle has Tailspin Tommy #23 on June 15 (http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=InoSAAAAIBAJ&sjid=o_QDAAAAIBAJ&pg=3173,3758493&dq=spokane-daily-chronicle), meaning that (if they ran it six times a week) they started it at or about May 19th (a Saturday). The May 18 edition (http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=xYQSAAAAIBAJ&sjid=pfQDAAAAIBAJ&pg=6295,3288771&dq=spokane-daily-chronicle) has many comics, but no Tailspin Tommy.

  2. Hi Fram —
    Actually counting back from that date gives us a start date of 5/21/28, a Monday. While still not as early as others have claimed, that's the earliest documented start yet. Thanks for the link – I seldom have any luck using that darn Google archive search to find anything.


  3. The 1928 and 1929 dailies have been posted on "The strip collectors swap group" on Facebook. Looking very carefully at the copyright dates, it appears that the first 1929 date is on strip #217. The date is in very small print and hard to see, but assuming that is correct, the start date for the daily strip is April 23, 1928.

  4. Hi Bill —
    Thanks for reminding me about the Tailspin Tommy start date being up in the air (ha!). 12 years later, checking the digital offerings I find that the Oakland Tribune started the strip on April 30 1928, the earliest found yet. However, I will make a note on my listing about your calculation based on copyright dates. Thanks!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *