Harry Mace, who was a prolific magazine gag cartoonist in the 1950s, began to make a concerted switch to newspaper work as the magazine markets started to dry up. He hooked up with the Register & Tribune Syndicate in 1957, and did a kid panel titled Junior Grade for them. It didn’t really seem to be going anywhere fast, and was dumped in 1960. However, Mace and R&T seemed to be set on the idea of making a kid panel work, and on September 25 1961, Mace was back with Amy, a daily gag panel about a sassy tomboy. Amy’s personality was a mix of Dennis the Menace and Lucy from Peanuts — comparisons that probably didn’t hurt a bit in the feature’s marketing. The feature suffered from an overabundance of weak gags in my opinion, but the crisp artwork and aura of other successful comic characters seems to have turned on enough newspaper editors to call itself at least a modest success. The panel debuted with a client list of a little under fifty papers.
Unfortunately for Mace, he was not going to bask in his success for long. After a brief illness of some kind, Mace died at the age of 41 in December 1963. That could have easily been the end of Amy, which was not setting the world on fire, except that Mace’s close friend and neighbor, fellow gag cartoonist Jack Tippit, had been assisting on the feature. At first Tippit had supplied occasional gags, but when Mace got sick Tippit took over the entire production. Register & Tribune was so impressed with the perfect match between Mace’s style and Tippit’s that they saw no reason to drop the feature, and Jack Tippit’s byline started appearing on the strip on January 27 1964.
Tippit, obviously seeing the same writing on the wall regarding the decline of the magazine gag market, readily accepted the assignment and continued Amy. He shepherded the feature to a thirty year run, never in a lot of papers, but enough to make the feature worth producing, ending sometime in 1991. By then the feature had outlasted it’s own syndicate, and had been taken over by King Features for the final half-decade of its run.
Despite its long run, Amy was only once collected in book form, an Ace/Grosset & Dunlap paperback issued in 1978.