On History: Comic Strip Continuity

By | Tuesday, September 09, 2014 Leave a Comment
Here's today's Nancy...
We have a young Fritzi watching cartoons, specifically, Spider-Man and Scooby-Doo, Where Are You? The shows debuted in 1967 and 1969 respectively. That Fritzi was watching them as a young girl suggests she was born no earlier than 1960.

Although since both have been in syndication almost continuously since their debuts, it could theoretically have been much later. According to Wikipedia, she's ostensibly in her late 50s (despite a youthful appearance), so the cartoon references hold up pretty well from a continuity perspective. (A 2012 strip cited Fritzi as "Miss Junior Three Rocks 1978" which implies a 1960 birthdate.)

Except, of course, that she debuted as a 19-year-old in her own strip, Fritzi Ritz, in 1922. Which means she's been in newspapers for 92 years, and would have been born 111 years ago! Fritzi's newspaper debut in fact pre-dates the invention of television by a few years (depending on how you define the 'invention' of TV) and pre-dates commercial network broadcasting by over a decade!

What strikes me as interesting, though, is that Guy Gilchrist, since taking over the strip in the 1990s, has given the strip more continuity and the trappings of serial comics than its origins as a fairly simple gag-a-day strip. Despite the long history the strip has, he's deliberately made the strip something different than what it had been. And yet, with the return of characters like Fritzi (who was absent from the strip throughout the 1980s and early 1990s) and Phil Fumble (who had been absent since the 1960s), Gilchrist has created a greater sense of continuity with the strip's origins than it had previously.

I remarked back when Phil was re-introduced that I didn't really see the point of bringing the long-forgotten character back, but I think I get it now. Despite the strip taking a new style and direction, Gilchrist is using the old characters and establishing a fairly solid continuity specifically to honor the work of the previous creators. One could argue that the guys working at Marvel and DC are often trying to do the same thing, but I think, somewhat strangely, that Gilchrist is doing a better job of it than them.
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