It certainly wasn’t a fully matured, stodgy and profit-centric comic strip world back in 1918, when the biggest newspaper conglomerate in the world would allow one of their star cartoonists to simply say the heck with his world famous comic strip, and try something else on for size. But that’s exactly what Hearst allowed Jimmy Swinnerton to do when he put Little Jimmy on the shelf for six months to try his hand at something a little different.
On June 23 1918, readers opening their Star Company comics section found that In the Good Old Days was in and Little Jimmy was out. Why the switch was made is impossible for me to say for sure, but I suspect that Swinnerton, after churning out the same strip since 1904 (granted there were other strips along the way), wanted a break.
In the Good Old Days was set aboard Noah’s ark. After a very promising, jazzy and energetic debut episode (above), the humor slowly but surely devolved. It became very much remindful of the old-fashioned ‘in the jungle’ comics of the 1890s, where an entire zoology of anthropomorphic animals formed a society based on their stereotypical traits. These weren’t especially funny in the 1890s, and I doubt readers were clamoring to get them back in 1918.
It took Jimmy Swinnerton six months to get the animal gags out of his system, and on January 19 1919 he had the ark ram into Mount Ararat. That was the end of In the Good Old Days, and readers were presumably delighted when Little Jimmy was back in the next week’s funnies section.
Thanks to Cole Johnson for the sample scan.