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George McManus' Sunday page with Bringing Up Father and the Snookums topper strip (November 28, 1953).

Bringing Up Father was an influential comic strip created by George McManus that ran from January 12, 1913 to May 28, 2000. Some readers, however, called the strip Jiggs and Maggie after its two main characters.

Contents

Characters and story

The humor centers around Irishman Jiggs, who comes into wealth in the United States. Even so, he still wants to keep his old pals, eat corned beef and cabbage (known regionally as "Jiggs dinner") and hang out at the tavern, much to the consternation of his social-climbing wife, Maggie, and daughter Nora. McManus's clean-line cartooning and strong sense of design made the strip a stand-out on the comics page.

McManus was inspired by The Rising Generation, a musical comedy by William Gill that he had seen as a boy in St. Louis, Missouri's Grand Opera House, where his father was manager. In The Rising Generation, Irish-American bricklayer Martin McShayne (played by the fat Irish comedian Billy Barry in the production McManus saw) becomes a wealthy contractor, yet his society-minded wife and daughter were ashamed of him and his buddies, prompting McShayne to sneak out to join his pals for poker. McManus knew Barry and used him as the basis for his drawings of Jiggs. McManus' wife, the former Florence Bergere, was the model for daughter Nora.

One of McManus' friends, restaurateur James Moore, claimed he was the inspiration for the character Dinty Moore, the owner of Jiggs' favorite tavern. James Moore changed his name to Dinty and founded a real-life restaurant chain. The restaurant owner, however, did not begin the successful line of Dinty Moore canned goods marketed today by Hormel.

Comics historian Don Markstein wrote about McManus' characters:

On January 12, 1913, he debuted Bringing Up Father, about an Irishman named Jiggs, who doesn't understand why his ascension to wealth via the Irish Sweepstakes means he can't hang out with his friends, and his nagging, social-climbing wife, Maggie. The strip was an instant hit, possibly because of its combination of an appealing cast of characters with a unique look of art-nouveau splendor... Before McManus died, in 1954, Bringing Up Father made him two fortunes (the first was lost in the 1929 stock market crash). By that time, Jiggs's Irishness had faded—the new generation saw him as just a rich guy that liked to hang out with a regular crowd.[1]

Artists

When McManus died, the strip continued with other artists, including Bill Kavanaugh and Frank Fletcher. It was expected that McManus' longtime assistant Zeke Zekley would take over the strip, but instead King Features Syndicate replaced McManus with Vernon Greene. With Greene's death in 1965, Hal Campagna stepped in, and Frank Johnson (Boner's Ark) replaced Campagna in 1980. The strip's popularity faded, and Bringing Up Father limped along until its 87-year run came to a close on May 28, 2000.

In 1995, the strip was one of 20 included in the Comic Strip Classics series of commemorative US postage stamps. Bringing Up Father went digital in 2007 when King Features made the strip available as one of the selections in its DailyINK email package.

International syndication

Bringing Up Father still enjoys popularity in the Scandinavian country Norway; known as Fiinbeck og Fia, the strip has been published weekly in the family journal Hjemmet since 1921; a yearly Christmas book with the strip is published every year since 1930, in the last few decades mostly consisting of reprint material produced by McManus in the 1940s and 1950s. A similar publication was also a yearly event in Sweden during 1931-77, where the strip is known as Gyllenbom.

In other media

Radio

Sponsored by Lever Brothers, the Bringing Up Father radio series aired on the Blue Network from July 1 to September 30, 1941, presenting the misadventures of Maggie (Agnes Moorehead), Jiggs (Mark Smith, Neil O'Malley) and their daughter Nora (Helen Shields, Joan Banks). Craig McDonnell (1907-56) portrayed Dinty Moore. The 30-minute program aired on Tuesdays at 9pm.[2]

Film

Panel from Bringing Up Father (January 7, 1940).

The following movies, both titled Bringing Up Father, were based on the strip:

  • In 1928, directed by Jack Conway, written by Frances Marion with titles by Ralph Spence, starring J. Farrell MacDonald, Jules Cowles and Polly Moran.
  • In 1946, directed by Edward F. Cline and written by Cline, Barney Gerard and Jerry Warner, starring Joe Yule, Renie Riano, George McManus (as himself) and Tim Ryan.
    • The last produced four sequels:
      • Jiggs and Maggie in Society - 1948
      • Jiggs and Maggie in Court - 1948
      • Jiggs and Maggie in Jackpot Jitters - 1949
      • Jiggs and Maggie Out West - 1950
  • In 1939 Finnish filmmaker Teuvo Tulio directed Vihtori ja Klaara based on the strip.
  • Several silent animated shorts:
    • Father Gets Into the Movies
    • Just Like a Woman
    • A Hot Time In the Gym
    • The Great Hansom Cab Mystery
    • Music Hath Charms
    • He Tries His Hand at Hypnotism
    • Second, the Stimulating Mrs. Barton
    • Father's Close Shave
    • Third, Jiggs and the Social Lion

Books

In 2009, NBM reprinted the first two years of the daily strip as part of their "Forever Nuts" series: Forever Nuts Presents Bringing Up Father, ISBN 1-56163-556-1.

IDW Publishing's "Library of American Comics" imprint is reprinting the cross-country tour storyline that ran from January 1939 to July 1940. Bringing Up Father: From Sea to Shining Sea (ISBN 1-60010-508-4) was published by IDW in November 2009.

Guest appearances of Jiggs and Maggie

This 1941 Dell comic featured reprints of 1936-38 strips.
  • In issue 17 of Mad, Harvey Kurtzman's story "Bringing Back Father", illustrated by Will Elder and Bernard Krigstein, depicted Jiggs as the victim of domestic abuse, bruised and bleeding after physical assaults by the domineering Maggie who has struck Jiggs with thrown kitchen utensils and crockery.[3] When Kurtzman died in 1993, slides from this parody were shown by Art Spiegelman at Kurtzman's memorial service in the Time-Warner building.
  • In his book In the Shadow of No Towers, Spiegelman drew himself as Jiggs and his wife as Maggie. He also included a reprint of a Bringing Up Father Sunday strip.[4]
  • In the comic strip Arlo and Janis, March 17, 2006, Jiggs is invited to the home of Arlo and Janis for corned beef and cabbage in honor of the day. He enjoys himself immensely, and entertains his hosts with his stories, jokes and witticisms. Everyone has a happy St. Patrick's Day.
  • In Marvel Comics' Power Pack, Jiggs is the King of Elsewhere and receives visits from Katie Power and Offisah Pup.

References

Sources

  • Strickler, Dave. Syndicated Comic Strips and Artists, 1924-1995: The Complete Index. Cambria, CA: Comics Access, 1995. ISBN 0-9700077-0-1.

Audio

External links


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