Collecting comics can have a strange way of leading you down various paths – one day you’re collecting good girl art (gga), the next motorcycle covers, then superheroes, and then superheroes on motorcycles, etc., until before you know it you are also adding football covers!
Which leads us to the “unloved” in the modern era Mutt & Jeff. From December 1948 and December 1950 respectively these covers give us a glimpse into the rough and tumble gridiron game from the very early “leather helmet days.” But mid-century sports is not all Mutt & Jeff conjure up for comic historians.
Mutt & Jeff are virtually unknown today, but back in the day there were so popular they became a slang term to mean a tall person paired with a short one – a real “Mutt & Jeff.” The strip actually is frequently credited with being the first in newspapers, beginning all the way back in 1907 and running an amazing 75-years. It really helped start the whole Daily/Sunday newspaper strips which become commonplace in the industry. Mutt & Jeff also became a success in silent cartoon animation, releasing hundreds of shorts beginning in 1913 and making creator Harry Fisher a rich man. Al Smith wrote and drew the strip from 1932 to 1980.
They graced the cover of Famous Funnies #1 (July 1934) – widely considered the first version of a true comic book. The venerable DC Comics ran Mutt & Jeff for 103 issues from 1939 to 1958, the first issue actually launching the same month as Superman’s own title. Mutt & Jeff later moved to Dell and then Harvey, running as a comic book to 1965.