On Strips: Foxy Grandpa

By | Friday, September 26, 2014 Leave a Comment
Debuting in early 1900, Carl "Bunny" Schultze's Foxy Grandpa took the New York comics scene by storm. The strip generally centered around Foxy Grandpa's two grandchildren, Chub and Bunt, trying to play tricks on him. But Foxy Grandpa was always a step or two ahead of the kids and was able to prank them first, often with a very similar gag. I suspect the notion of "these kids today" always getting what's coming to them was a large part of the appeal.

The strip, as I said, was immediately popular. Licensed games started appearing within a year. The strips were collected in bound editions beginning in 1901; there were 30 volumes of them ultimately. The stuffed toy pattern shown below was produced around 1910. The strip was adapted into Broadway shows and some early silent films, portions of which still survive.

The strip ended in 1918. (Given that it was essentially a one-note gag, I'm surprised it lasted that long!) But it's cropped up every now and then since. It ran briefly in The Funnies in 1929, and there's some quick allusions to it in the movies Crashing Hollywood (1938) and Murder My Sweet (1944). Most recently, it was referenced on a trucker cap in SpongeBob SquarePants.

Although Schultze lived very handsomely while the strip was still running, he evidently spent most of his income so that he was hit especially hard by the Great Depression. He did little drawing work during the 1920s, and while he was able to illustrate a few books in the 1930s, he spent much of that decade relying on President Franklin D. Roosevelt's Works Progress Administration for income. He died of a heart attack in 1939, at the age of 73, nearly penniless and with only one living relative still near his hometown back in Kentucky.
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