Obscurity of the Day: Bill and Budd the Bird Boys

The only thing less than absolutely delightful about this comic strip is its title, a run-on sentence all on its own. Here we go — it’s The Exciting Adventures of Bill and Budd the Bird Boys in the Good Airship Flying Fish. Whew!

Americans were utterly fascinated with airplanes in the years immediately after the Wrights soared above Kitty Hawk, and The Bird Boys were one of dozens of features that capitalized on that interest. Bill and Budd had a rather odd flying machine — theirs resembled a submarine with venetian blinds for wings. The youngsters used their surprisingly airworthy contraption to pull pranks, as in the sample above, but also had adventures in strange lands (oh, okay, they also pulled pranks there).

The art was phenomenal on this series — whimsical and sumptuous. If Winsor McCay, Lyonel Feininger and William Marriner had a child (granted a rather unlikely event) this would be the comic strip their progeny would have penned. So who is the master that actually drew this series? Nope, sorry, wish I could tell you. Although this delightful strip ran in the Chicago Tribune for a full year (September 12 1909 – August 21 1910) never once was it signed by the creator.

Perhaps because the creator chose to be anonymous this wonderful strip, a real classic, has been ignored by all of the standard comic strip histories. I guess they feel that a strip without a known creator just doesn’t count for much.

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