Ask the Archivist: King Features PSAs

By Mark Johnson

Hello Comics Fans!

Today we’re going to bring a little civic spirit to DailyINK and share some messages at you to make you a better citizen.

King Features’ comic strip characters care about doing good and have donated some of their valuable time toward community causes — in the form of free Public Service Announcement spots (PSAs), which endorsed causes and organizations that would fight polio, promote buying war bonds or show support of public charities. Newspapers would donate free space for these announcements, especially during fund drives.

In the 1940’s and 50’s, some cartoonists often would take previously used art, sometimes not all that well selected, and redo the word balloons for the message. Here are some interesting samples I have gathered from that period:


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One panel from the BRINGING UP FATHER Sunday of August 29, 1943 was recycled as a 1944 March of Dimes spot.


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Click image to enlarge

A panel from the March 17, 1945 POPEYE strip was modified for a 7th War Loan spot that summer.


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Click image to enlarge

The RIP KIRBY strip of April 13, 1953 and the Christmas Seals spot it became seven months later.

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Click image to enlarge

The December 17, 1954 BLONDIE strip morphed into a 1955 American Cancer Society ad.

See you next week. Until then, don’t litter. Only you can prevent forest fires.

Now it’s time for Reader Questions and Comments!

To Bhob:

We would like to colorize the old time vintage Sunday strips here at King Features, but the cost in time alone would make it prohibitive. There are thousands of pages in those files, after all.

To Jon Yim:

I have not heard that Hank Ketcham had given ”Half Hitch” to the U.S. Navy. I know that many years ago, while the strip was still being published (1970-75) presumably, the Navy paid royalties for the use of the character in Navy-related PSAs and such.


The Archy Vast