was a popular newspaper
A newspaper is a scheduled publication containing news of current events, informative articles, diverse features and advertising. It usually is printed on relatively inexpensive, low-grade paper such as newsprint. By 2007, there were 6580 daily newspapers in the world selling 395 million copies a...
cartoon feature by Fontaine Fox
Fontaine Talbot Fox Jr. was an American cartoonist and illustrator born near Louisville, Kentucky.Fox is best known for writing and illustrating his Toonerville Folks comic panel. It ran from 1913 to 1955 in 250 to 300 newspapers across North America.The cartoons are set in the small town of...
, which ran from 1908 to 1955. It began in 1908 in the Chicago Post
, and by 1913, it was syndicated nationally by the Wheeler Syndicate. From the 1930s on, it was distributed by the McNaught Syndicate
The McNaught Syndicate was an American newspaper syndicate founded in 1922. It was established by Virgil Venice McNitt and Charles V. McAdam. Its best known contents were the columns by Will Rogers and O. O. McIntyre, the Dear Abby letters section and comic strips, including Joe Palooka and...
Characters and story
The single-panel gag cartoon was a daily look at Toonerville, situated in what are now called the suburbs. Central to the strip was the rickety little trolley called the "Toonerville Trolley that met all the trains," driven in a frenzy by the grizzly old Skipper to meet each commuter train as it arrived in town. A few of the many richly formed characters included the Terrible-Tempered Mr. Bang, the Physically Powerful Katrinka, Little Woo-Woo Wortle, Aunt Eppie Hogg (The Fattest Lady in 3 Counties) and Mickey McGuire, the town bully.
Fox described the inspiration for the cartoon series in an article he wrote for The Saturday Evening Post
titled "A Queer Way to Make a Living" (February 11, 1928, page six):
- After years of gestation, the idea for the Toonerville Trolley was born one day up in Westchester County when my wife and I had left New York City to visit Charlie Voight, the cartoonist, in the Pelhams
Pelham, New York is the name of two locations in Westchester County, New York:*Pelham , New York, the Town of Pelham*Pelham Manor , New York, the Village of Pelham Manor*Pelham , New York, the Village of Pelham...
. At the station, we saw a rattletrap of a streetcar, which had as its crew and skipper a wistful old codger with an Airedale beard
The Airedale Terrier is a breed of the terrier type that originated in Airedale, a geographic area in Yorkshire, England. It is traditionally called the "King of Terriers" because it is the largest of the terrier breeds...
. He showed as much concern in the performance of his job as you might expect from Captain Hartley when docking the Leviathan.
Between 1920 and 1922, 17 Toonerville
silent film comedy adaptations were scripted by Fox for Philadelphia's Betzwood Film Company. These starred Dan Mason as the Skipper with Wilna Hervey as Katrinka. Only seven of those 17 shorts survive today. Four are preserved in the Betzwood Film Archive at Montgomery County Community College, Blue Bell, Pennsylvania.
Mickey Rooney is an American film actor and entertainer whose film, television, and stage appearances span nearly his entire lifetime. He has won multiple awards, including an Honorary Academy Award, a Golden Globe and an Emmy Award...
starred as Mickey McGuire in more than 55 comedy shorts
Mickey McGuire was an American comedy series of short subjects from 1927 to 1934. The series was notable for essentially launching the careers of Mickey Rooney and Billy Barty. The series was based on Fontaine Fox's popular comic strip series, Toonerville Trolley. The series was very popular in its...
filmed between 1927 and 1936. Rooney (né Joe Yule, Jr.) adopted the professional name Mickey McGuire for a time before finally settling on the last name Rooney. The first of three Van Beuren Studios
Van Beuren Studios was an American animation studio that produced theatrical cartoons from 1928 to 1936.Producer Amedee J. van Beuren first became involved in the animation industry in 1920, when he formed a partnership with Paul Terry and formed the "Aesop's Fables Studio" for the production of...
animated cartoons adapted from the syndicated panels was released by RKO on January 17, 1936. Some of those became available on laserdisc
LaserDisc was a home video format and the first commercial optical disc storage medium. Initially licensed, sold, and marketed as MCA DiscoVision in North America in 1978, the technology was previously referred to interally as Optical Videodisc System, Reflective Optical Videodisc, Laser Optical...
in 1994 and later, on DVD from Image Entertainment in 1999.
Over the years, various Toonerville characters acted as spokesmen for popular products of the day. Skipper, Flem and Katrinka appeared throughout the decades in advertisements for Drano
Drano is a drain cleaner product manufactured by S. C. Johnson & Son.- Crystal Drano :According to the National Institutes of Health's Household Products Database, the crystal form is composed of sodium hydroxide , sodium nitrate, sodium chloride , and aluminum.The power crystals are simply colored...
, Kellogg's cereals and Chef Boyardee
Chef Boyardee is a brand of canned pasta products sold internationally by ConAgra Foods. Named after its founder, Italian-American immigrant Ettore Boiardi, the company began production in the United States in the 1920s...
Between 1934 and 1940, comic book reprints of the panel appeared in many issues of All-American Comics
All-American Comics was the flagship title of comic book publisher All-American Publications, one of the forerunners of DC Comics. It ran for 102 issues from April 1939 to October 1948, at which time it was renamed All-American Western. In 1952, the title was changed again to All-American Men of...
, Famous Funnies
and Popular Comics
. In 1995, the strip was one of 20 included in the Comic Strip Classics
The Comic Strip Classics series of commemorative postage stamps was issued by the US Postal Service in 1995 to honor the centennial of the newspaper comic strip....
series of commemorative United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...
In 1972, Herb Galewitz and Don Winslow compiled Fontaine Fox's Toonerville Trolley
, a 184 page book of daily panels, for Weathervane Books, an imprint of Charles Scribner's Sons
Charles Scribner's Sons, or simply Scribner, is an American publisher based in New York City, known for publishing a number of American authors including Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Kurt Vonnegut, Stephen King, Robert A. Heinlein, Thomas Wolfe, George Santayana, John Clellon...