A Century of Fritzi Ritz The Daily Cartoonist

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A century of Fritzi Ritz

Fritzi Ritz was introduced to New York World comic book readers a hundred years ago – October 9, 1922 – and still appears in the fun pages, admittedly as second fiddle to his niece Nancy instead of the comic star these days. Although on occasion she does get the spotlight.

Although the strip is most closely associated with Ernie Bushmiller, it was cartoonist Larry Whittington who created the character. Hogan’s Alley features Larry and Fritzi as a prelude to the publication of the 1922 dailies.

Whittington’s work reflected his skill as a journeyman but without distinction; his Fritzi Ritz was firmly rooted in the idioms of the time. Flapper humor was one of the pop-art signatures of the Jazz Age, and strips featuring attractive ditzes, especially written by men working in an industry almost completely devoid of women, were commonplace.

In 1925 Whittington sought fame and fortune with the Hearst organization and left Fritzi. Pulitzer’s press publications replaced him with Ernie Bushmiller, a New York World staffer, who would indeed go on to fame and fortune as a cartoonist, but not with Fritzi.

The last Fritzi Ritz signed by Larry was on May 14, 1925 (Thursday),
Ernie’s first signed Fritzi Ritz was on May 18, 1925 (Monday):

You think it’s as good as anyone on the two unsigned tapes – Did Press Publ. erase Larry’s name from the 15th and 16th tapes? Did they ask an artist from the New York World bullpen to do two tapes? Did Ernie Bushmiller do them without signing them?

Anyway, as mentioned above, Fritzi didn’t suddenly start appearing in dozens of newspapers when Ernie took over, although the comic had a Sunday page in 1929. The 6 October of that year to be exact.

It was in 1933 that Ernie introduced the spark that made the comic a best-seller.

On January 2, 1933, Nancy moved in with Fritzi and a legend was born.

As with Snuffy Smith and Barney Google, Steve Roper and Chief Wahoo, Winthrop and Morty Meekle, and many others, the new character became the star attraction. Within a few years Fritzi was taking a back seat in Nancy and by the end of the decade the daily strip was renamed Nancy (gradually and at different times in different newspapers).

Below, from The Ventura County Star Free-Press, are the daily newspapers for September 9 and 10, 1938.

Although others would run with the Fritzi Ritz title for years after 1938.

1938 is an important year for another reason – it was the year Nancy got a Sunday page. But the Fritzi Ritz Sunday page continued Nancy after replacing Bushmiller’s Phil Fumble Sunday band. Fritzi Ritz would continue as a Sunday comic until September 24, 1967 (below) as much as possible.

Now stripped of her own tape, Fritzi continued as a supporting character in Nancy. Over time, Fritzi became a less frequent presence depending on the artist and Nancy’s stripping ghosts. In the mid-1980s, Jerry Scott took over and gradually changed the art to a bigfoot style where Fritzi and the adults didn’t fit. Once fully commissioned by Jerry, Fritzi, when she made the tape, became a voice-over panel.

When the Gilchrist brothers, Brad and Guy, were brought in in 1995 to recreate Nancy in a more retro style, Fritzi returned in a grander (and sexier) way.

And while Gilchrist ended his tenure on the strip with Fritzi marrying Phil, this was acknowledged and only one Fritzi is still part of today’s Nancy strip, but once again back to a supporting character rather than a co-star.

Fritzi Ritz now joins Walt and Skeezix Wallet and Olive Oyl and Barney Google and Ginger Meggs as characters who continue to appear in new comic book episodes a century after their debut.

Longest running newspaper comic with 100 years of new comics now stands at

The Katzenjammer children 1897 – 2006
Essence Alley 1918–present
Champs and Chumps / Ripley’s Believe It or Not 1918 – present
Barney Google and Snuffy Smith 1919 – present
Thimble Theater / Popeye 1919 – present
Ginger Meggs 1921 – present
Fritzi Ritz/Nancy 1922-present

The next centenarian is Blondie which debuted on September 8, 1930.

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