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This article is about the comic strip. For the graffiti artist, see Dondi (artist).

Dondi was a daily comic strip about a large-eyed, (originally Italian) war orphan of the same name. It was created by Gus Edson [1]and Irwin Hasen, and ran from September 25 1955 until 8 June 1986. Irwin Hasen received the National Cartoonist Society Award for Story Comic Strip for 1961 and 1962 for his work on the strip. During these years, the strip was carried in hundreds of newspapers. By the time the strip ended, it was being carried in only 35 papers.[2]

Dondi's original backstory describes him as a five year old, World War II war orphan of Italian descent.[3]a soldier who was to be his future adoptive father (and who knew no Italian) found the child wandering in a war-torn village repeating the word "Donde" ("where") as he was looking for his slain parents. Like other little boy comic strip characters such as Dennis The Menace, Dondi's character never ages. This became problematic as the years since World War II passed and the story of his origin became more and more implausible. Eventually, references to his Italian origin ceased to be mentioned, and he was adopted by Ted Wills and his wife, the former Katje Bogar. "Pop" Fligh, a former pro baseball player, became Dondi's adoptive grandfather when he married Ted Wills' widowed mother. Following this, Dondi was portrayed simply as an adopted child, although in the early sixties there was a reference to his being an orphan of the Korean War and in the mid-seventies there was a reference or two to his being from Vietnam.

A recurring character in the strip was Mrs McGowan, an extremely wealthy dowager who regarded herself as Dondi's grandmother and would periodically summon him to her mansion in Manhattan for exotic adventures. Since Mrs McGowan was not related to Ted Wills or the Flighs, it was originally explained that her deceased son (her last blood relation) had been a member of the army regiment that had adopted Dondi and had, in fact, been Dondi's adoptive father before he accidentally died in Europe. This explanation was permitted to fade into the mists as the strip grew farther away from World War II.

After the death of Gus Edson in 1966, Bob Oksner teamed up with surviving founder Hasen and the two remained with the strip until its end in 1986.



Dondi was eventually made into a family-oriented film produced and directed by Albert Zugsmith, released on 26 March 1961[4]. It featured David Kory as Dondi, with costars David Janssen and Patti Page. Irwin Hasen made a cameo as a police artist who draws a sketch of Dondi. The movie, and especially Kory's performance, have been negatively received by critics. Film writer Leonard Maltin asserted: “Watch this film and you'll know why Janssen became a fugitive!”[citation needed]. A comic book adaptation of the movie was published as Four Color # 1176 by Dell. Another Dondi comic book, with stories closer to the strip's style, was published as Four-Color # 1276 also by Dell.


Classic Comics Press will be publishing 4-5 collections of classic story lines of the strip.


  1. ^ Tell it to Sweeney: The Informal History of the New York Daily News by John Arthur Chapman, John Chapman Page 161, Doubleday, 1961 Original from the University of California Digitized Sep 20, 2007
  2. ^ DONDI Accessed May 13 2007
  3. ^ The Alter Ego Collection Volume 1: V. 1 by Roy Thomas Page 58 TwoMorrows Publishing, 2006 ISBN 1893905594
  4. ^ Hollywood: The Golden Era by Jack Spears A. S. Barnes, Page 151, 1971 Original from the University of Michigan Digitized Aug 29, 2006

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