On Strips: Miss Cairo Jones

By | Friday, October 23, 2015 Leave a Comment
Miss Cairo Jones
I was noticing yesterday women walking around downtown in some fantastic fall fashions. And as I reflected on what exactly I liked about them, I realized that a good chunk of the types of clothing I like to see on women was originally informed by the early 1970s comic artwork of Bob Oksner. His Lois Lane and Supergirl in particular. Beautifully drawn women in some wonderfully designed clothes.

In any event, it got me to thinking that I wasn't all that familiar with Oksner's work outside of that brief period. And while I'm mostly familiar with him through his superhero material at DC, it turns out that he also had a few turns as a newspaper strip artist. He co-created a short-lived (only lasting a few months) strip called Soozi in 1967 and was the writer on Dondi from 1967 (I've also seen 1965 and 1966 cited) until his retirement in 1986. But the one that strikes me as interesting as Miss Cairo Jones, which ran from July 1945 until April 1947.

Oksner and co-creator Jerry Albert had the idea for a comic strip featuring Cairo Jones, an action hero type not wholly unlike Captain Easy or Buz Sawyer. Bell Syndicate president John Wheeler liked what he saw, but seemed to have felt that there wasn't room for another action hero, so he suggested switching the character's gender. Cairo Jones was renamed Steve Racy and his girlfriend was thrust into the newly feminized title role of Miss Cairo Jones.

The strip was pretty much just straight-up action with razor-thin plots and minimal, if any, characterization. But since Oksner drew attractive women even back then, and Miss Jones would ocassionally be the victim of wardrobe malfunctions, no one seemed to mind. In fact, Albert -- who had been writing strip -- dropped entirely after about year, right around the time it went from Sundays-only to a full daily, and Oksner continued on as the sole creator.

Some of the early strips were collected in comic book form in (presumably) late 1945. Croydon Publishing put out a single issue of Miss Cairo Jones Comics. It relayed the closest thing to an origin story she had, as she tracked down her husband who was a suspected Nazi war criminal. Though she had hoped to prove his innocence, she discovered he had indeed been helping to fund the Nazi party. When she finally found and confronted him, however, he chose to hang himself rather than be taken in.

The daily strips evidently weren't terribly popular. Perhaps because there was less space to see the primary draw of the strip: Oksner's art. Bell Syndicate seems to have taken the commercial failure of the daily strip as an indication of the strip as a whole, and canned the whole thing in mid-1947. Although some conflicting dates suggest that the daily may have been canceled several months earlier. So maybe Oksner's art alone wasn't enough to keep even the Sundays going. In any event, while it was still a relatively short-lived strip, it's some of Oksner's earliest comic work and probably helped him get in the door with Sheldon Mayer and DC.
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