The 1930s were the golden age of the adventure strip, and with so many new strips vying for the attention of newspaper editors and readers, it is inevitable that some worthy ones fell through the cracks. That, I think, was the fate of Mo Leff’s Peter Pat.
Created by Leff for United Feature Syndicate shortly before he switched to a long career as an assistant/ghost for others, this strip is really our only opportunity to see where Mo’s own creative impulses would lead him. And wow, what a creative mind he had. Peter Pat reads like a combination of J.R.R. Tolkein, wacky 1930s cliffhanger radio and movie serials, and Dungeons and Dragons-type role-playing games. Leff is so brimming with creativity that he can’t seem to cram enough adventure onto each page to suit himself, and we readers have to hang on tight for the thrill ride.
The protagonists are Peter Pat, a kid who looks more like a miniaturized adult, and his pal Pom, who looks like an even more miniaturized senior with the legs of an athlete. They go on a breakneck adventure through fantasy land that unfortunately didn’t last long. The Sunday-only strip began on June 3 1934 and ended barely more than a year later, on July 28 1935. Some histories have mistakenly claimed that the strip ran until 1938, but those late appearances were from World Color Printing, which distributed the strip in reprints.
Mo Leff went on to a distinguished career assisting on Li’l Abner, then taking over Joe Jinks for a time from Pete Llanuza, and finally helming Joe Palooka for about twenty years, uncredited on that strip until the last few years.