What fun it was to discover a modern day artist’s homage to Fritz Ritz. Of course, that is not to overlook the great original gag on the cover of the comic book. Fritzi Ritz assumes the gawkers are focused on Phil Fumble’s tasteless tie and not her red skirt waving like a flag in the wind. Ernie Bushmiller was such a master at this type of set up he even went to Hollywood in 1931 to write for silent film great Harold Lloyd on his feature “Movie Crazy.”
The Fritzi character debuted way back in October 1922 in newspaper The New York Evening World’s funny pages. By 1925 the original artist was replaced by a 20-year-old Bushmiller, quite a promotion from working as copy-boy in the art department since the age of fourteen. Eventually he took the strip to new heights, getting national distribution through United Feature Syndicate.
Under Bushmiller new characters were introduced. These included steady boyfriend Phil Fumble and most importantly (in 1933) a seven-year-old niece named Nancy. Nancy would propel Bushmiller to new levels of fame and fortune. Over that time, Fritzi slowly lost her flapper girl vivaciousness as her role morphed into an, albeit still good-looking, “Aunty” figure. I suppose to some degree that was quite fitting. It follows the truth of the arch time on both a individual human scale and that of the larger American culture. We all grow up from the carefree days of young adulthood (roaring 20’s America) into roles of career and financial responsibility (50’s post war baby-boom family formation era).
United Comics #8 and #26 below are actually the first and last in the series which continued on as Fritzi Ritz. Aside from the motorcycle cover on #26, it also contains early Peanuts by Charles Schulz.
* Sold United Comics #17