Fred Neher

Fred Neher

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Fred Neher was an American cartoonist best known for his syndicated gag panel, Life’s Like That
Life’s Like That
Life’s Like That was a gag panel by Fred Neher which found humor in life's foibles. Spanning five decades, the series was initially distributed by the Bell Syndicate and later by Consolidated News Features and the United Features Syndicate....

, which offered a humorous look at human nature, with a focus on American society and family life, for more than five decades.

Growing up in Nappanee, Indiana
Nappanee, Indiana
-Demographics:As of the census of 2000, there were 6,710 people, 2,521 households, and 1,792 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,818.9 people per square mile . There were 2,647 housing units at an average density of 717.5 per square mile...

, Neher was 12 years old when he was paid $2.00 for doing a drawing of a woman hanging clothes with a new type of clothespin. While he was a student at Nappanee High School, he took the Landon School of Illustration and Cartooning correspondence course.

Neher succeeded in selling a cartoon to the popular humor magazine Judge before he graduated from high school in 1922. He furthered his art study at the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts, and after graduation, he worked as an assistant to cartoonist Arch Dale, doing lettering and backgrounds on Dale's comic strip Doo-Dads. Neher recalled:
Several years of work on this strip gave me experience enough to attempt my own strip, Otto Wall, a radio strip. A golf strip, Layon McDuff, came next, followed by Goofey Movies, an animal strip, and Just Like Us, a kid strip, which appeared in the first issue of Family Circle
Family Circle
Family Circle is an American women's magazine published 15 times a year by Meredith Corporation. It began publication in 1932 as a magazine distributed at supermarkets such as Piggly Wiggly and Safeway. Cowles Magazines and Broadcasting bought the magazine in 1962. The New York Times Company bought...

magazine and thereafter for four years. From 1930 to 1934, I freelanced to magazines, having some 40 markets, including Punch, the English magazine. I was the first American to sell to Punch in 20 years.

The radio-themed cartoons of Otto Watt ran adjacent to newspaper radio program listings. Neher drew Goofey Movies for five years, along with gag cartoons for 42 magazines, including Collier's
Collier's Weekly
Collier's Weekly was an American magazine founded by Peter Fenelon Collier and published from 1888 to 1957. With the passage of decades, the title was shortened to Collier's....

and The New Yorker
The New Yorker
The New Yorker is an American magazine of reportage, commentary, criticism, essays, fiction, satire, cartoons and poetry published by Condé Nast...

, when the Bell Syndicate launched Life's Like That on October 1, 1934. It ran until 1941, disappearing from newspapers during World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, but returning in 1945.

In 1951, Neher and his family moved to Boulder, Colorado
Boulder, Colorado
Boulder is the county seat and most populous city of Boulder County and the 11th most populous city in the U.S. state of Colorado. Boulder is located at the base of the foothills of the Rocky Mountains at an elevation of...

 where he taught cartooning at the University of Colorado
University of Colorado at Boulder
The University of Colorado Boulder is a public research university located in Boulder, Colorado...

 for 12 years.


Neher's cartoons were reprinted in various books and publications, such as Thomas Craven's Cartoon Cavalcade (1943) and the November 1945 issue of Cartoon Digest. His 96-page book Will-yum was published by Berkley Books in 1958, followed by Hi-Teens (Berkley, 1959).


Neher stopped doing the Life's Like That Sunday half-page in October 1972, and he retired five years later, devoting his energy to playing golf, raising roses and growing tomatoes. When he died at age 98 in Boulder, Colorado in 2001, Owen S. Good wrote in the Rocky Mountain News
Rocky Mountain News
The Rocky Mountain News was a daily newspaper published in Denver, Colorado, United States from April 23, 1859, until February 27, 2009. It was owned by the E. W. Scripps Company from 1926 until its closing. As of March 2006, the Monday-Friday circulation was 255,427...

He is survived by pot-bellied businessmen, henpecked husbands, worldly-wise goldfish and babies with thin curlicues of hair, all actors in the everyday comedies he staged on the funny pages.


He donated his Life's Like That cartoon originals, scrapbooks, published books, magazines and correspondence to the University of Colorado Library Archives (where they fill 36 linear feet). As he described it, "Univ. of Colo. ask to have all my original drawings for safe keeping... came in a truck and left me only my shorts."

At the Syracuse University Special Collections, the Fred Neher Papers collection contains correspondence, clippings, published material and approximately 100 original cartoons from the 1960-65 run of Life's Like That.

External links