Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Saturday, February 24, 2018


Cartoonist Clifford McBride (1901-1951) used his uncle, former lumberjack Henry Elbe Eastman, as the prototype for Elby, a character who sometimes appeared in his early comic strips.  From there it was a simple step to include his uncle's dog, Napoleon.  The dog got his own daily comic strip, Napoleon in 1932.  McBride added a Sunday strip (signing it as Clifford M'Bride) in 1933 and in 1934 the title was changed to Napoleon and Uncle Elby.  The comic strip, once carried in over 80 newspapers, lasted for 29 years, ending in 1961.

Uncle Elby was an overweight, natty-dressing bachelor.  Napoleon was maybe an Irish wolfhound...or maybe not.  A big, playful, kindly but clumsy animal who was often oblivious to the consequences of his actions, Napoleon was a good companion to Elby, who had a lot of patience when it came to his pet.  Elby lived alone with Napoleon and (sometimes) other dogs.although young nephew Willie bolstered the cast.  There were also a lot of puppies and a panda who keep Napoleon company and several goats for Willie to play with.

McBride's artwork was clean but detailed where it needed to be.  He was able to have Napoleon's facial expressions display a wide range of emotions -- see the January 26 strip for a good example.  His humor was quiet and often centered on the unpredictability of his star canine; it was the gentle type of humor that is often seen in some of today's comic strips like Mutts.

Here are the 234 dailies from 1948.  I think you will get a kick out of them.

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