The first regular comic strip appeared in the Los Angeles Times on Sunday, August 21, 1904. ‘Buster Brown’ was joined that day by five other less memorable strips. Since then, comic strips and panels have appeared every day in the Times, about 965 individual named strips and panels over the last century. This longevity probably makes the Times the longest continuous source of newspaper comic strips for the modern reader (although the Chicago Tribune may challenge this mark).
The following index is a detailed inventory of all those strips, from that 1904 beginning through right now. This is a living index. We update it with modern changes every day. You can search for your favorite strip by title, artist, or keyword, or you can browse alphabetically.
A few words on the rationale for this indexing project. The United States has five major national newspapers with long back runs widely available nationwide in microfilm. Three of these newspapers have never carried comics (New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Christian Science Monitor), and one has carried comics only sporadically (Washington Post). That leaves the Los Angeles Times as the only newspaper with comics in the United States with a long back run that is widely available. (ProQuest has recently released the Times from 1881 to 1984 in full page facsimile form online, transcending microfilm; see http://www.il.proquest.com/proquest/histdemo/. ) Hence, the Times is the best source, all other things being equal, for full runs of historical comic strips
This is not to imply that the Times carried every strip ever published, of course. In 2004, the Times was regularly carrying only about 30 Sunday and 40 daily comic strips and panels. But for the reader who wishes to read every episode of such greats as ‘The Gumps,’ ‘Gasoline Alley,’ ‘Love Is…‘ and ‘Peanuts,’ the Times is the place.
Knowing that a strip was carried in the Times constitutes only half the battle, however. The reader also needs to know when the strip appeared. This index shows the start and end dates of strips and panels, as well as significant gaps in their runs. It also points out when strips can be found in unexpected places in the paper off the comics page, like the Classified section.
Four other quick notes. First, this map to comics in the Times does not cover every single appearance of every single strip. Most strips failed to appeared occasionally, or even frequently. To list every single appearance and omission is more than we want to publish and more than you want to read. That detailed information is available, however; email us if you are interested in a specific strip on a specific date.
Second, abbreviations: [NA] means Not Attributed, i.e., that there was no signature nor author label on the strip. DNA is Did Not Appear, usually with regard to extended periods of time. AKA means Also Known As.
Now that indexing of the Los Angeles Times is out of major construction and into maintenance mode, we’ve begun to develop an index to the characters of all comic strips. This database contains more than 32,000 names, dates, and descriptions, and grows every day. Its future public availability is yet to be decided, but questions about characters are always welcome.
Finally, appreciation is extended to the management and staff of the Reference Department of the Kennedy Library of Cal Poly University, San Luis Obispo, California, and of the Newspaper section of the Doe Library, University of California, Berkeley, for their willingness to allow me to take microfilm reels of the Times home to read. Their cooperation has sped this project incalculably.
Dave Strickler, San Simeon, California