Clyde Lewis jumped ship from NEA, where he helmed the daily panel Hold Everything and the Sunday strip Herky, in early 1940. He went to King Features to start a new panel, much in the same vein as Hold Everything, titled Snickeroos. The market, overloaded with such fodder, didn’t respond with much enthusiasm, though, and within six months Lewis had come up with a new tack. The panel was renamed Private Buck and a diminutive army private was installed as the daily gag fodder.
The change didn’t liven up sales one iota, but Lewis gamely hung on with a tiny list of papers all through 1941. As of December 7th he suddenly had a big hit on his hands. As the US entered the war papers were scrambling for military material and Private Buck was happy to oblige. Unfortunately for Lewis, the US Army was also interested in him and he was inducted shortly after his panel turned into an overnight hit.
Like some other GI cartoonists, Lewis somehow managed to keep up the daily grind despite being overseas. Some Private Buck cartoons bear the names European locales next to Lewis’ signature, indicating that he wasn’t one of the lucky ones to score a desk job.
When the war ended, Private Buck went back to civilian life and the panel was rechristened Private Life of Buck. The feature shed papers pretty quickly, though, and was finally cancelled on April 19 1952.