Ah, now here we have the real goodies! Alma & Oliver is by all reports George McManus’ very first continuing comic strip. I’ve been looking for a sample of this strip for years now without any luck. Cole Johnson to the rescue!
Though the strip is mentioned in practically every cartoon history ever written I was beginning to think it never actually existed, much like the oft-mentioned Swinnerton’s “Little Bears and Tigers” which just turned out to be a misheard reference to Little Bears and Tykes. These same cartoon histories usually cite Alma & Oliver as running in 1900, but Cole informs me that this is definitely not the case. He cites running dates of September 28 1902 to April 12 1903. Swift-thinking blog readers will already realize that makes Alma & Oliver McManus’ second strip — Burglar Pete turns out to be his very first! At least ’tis so until Cole comes across with some other undocumented rarity!
By the way, this strip is a great example of needing to see samples. I always assumed, and I think some histories may even indicate, that the titular Alma was a woman. Given McManus’ minor fame in St. Louis for his Gibsonesque glamor girl drawings it seemed a reasonable assumption that his first strip would feature a pretty gal. Not so, not so!