Joe Cunningham was a journeyman cartoonist who spent most of his career kicking around at the Philadelphia papers. His earliest comic strip series were at the North American, but his most successful, Rufus McGoofus, came after he switched over to the Ledger.
Joe may not have learned cartooning at the Landon school, but you’d never know it from his style. It was prototypical Landon and never really got much better over his long career. Cunningham did a lot of sports cartooning, and any minor flash of brilliance, or at least pushing the envelope of basic competence, came in that venue. Rufus McGoofus (also various titled Rufus M’Goofus for no particular reason) started as a mascot of sorts in Cunningham’s sports cartoons before getting a berth in his own comic strip. The feature was, as can be seen in this better than average example, hastily drawn with gags that rarely rose above jokebook level.
Cunningham drew the strip first as a daily starting November 6 1922 in the Evening Ledger. A Sunday strip was added on January 28 1923; it appeared in the Public Ledger (the morning and Sunday issued paper). The daily ran for nearly three years, ending on May 16 1925, while the Sunday soldiered on a little longer, ending September 6 of that year.
Rufus came out of retirement a few years later as the second banana in a short-lived revival, but we’ll cover that in another post one of these days.