Bill Holman


Bill Holman Puts on The Dog - Three Spookys from the 40s

Smokey Stover's Pipe Dream (1939)

Smokey Stover Rows to the Occasion (July 20, 1941)

No Claws For Alarm - Spooky Comics By Bill Holman

The Fireman Cometh - A Taste of Bill Holman's UnFOOgettable Screwball Comic 

The Birth of Smokey Stover - First Puffs (includes rare examples of Holan's pre-Smokey comics as well as color scans of the first Smokeys and Spookys)


BIOGRAPHY (in progress)

The greatest screwball comedy strip of all time, SMOKEY STOVER by Bill Holman (March 22, 1903 – February 27, 1987), began appearing in newspapers in 1935. The Smokey Stover dailies and Sundays were jam-packed with gags. Some of the gags were visual puns, some were verbal, and some were just pulled out of the ether, such as the repeated use of the word "foo." Smokey ran until 1973.



1922  (Feb-July 20)- J. Rabbit Esquire

J Rabbit Esquire - March 1, 1922

1922 (July 21)  - unknown) - Billville Birds

The first Billville Birds (not yet titled) - July 21, 1922

1924-31(estimated) - Gee Whiz Junior 
The comic started as a fairly straight kid strip, but as the years progressed, Holman stuffed it with puns and surreal gags, making this the missing link between his early work and Smokey Stover. In articles about Holman, this strip is spelled: G. Whizz Jr.) The comic was also published simply as "Junior."

Gee Whiz Junior - Jan 30, 1924

1928 - 35 (estimated) - Misc. magazine gag cartoons - Holman sold hundreds of these

Life December, 1931

1935 (March 10) - 1973 - Smokey Stover (Sunday)

The first Smokey Stover - March 10, 1935

July 1935 to November 1938 - Various daily gag panels
On June 15, 1935,  star Chicago cartoonist Gaar Williams died, and Holman quickly took over his daily panel, which rotated among several concepts including Zipper (a dog strip that predates Holman's classic cat topper, Spooky), Wotta Life!, and A Strain on the Family Tie. It was a notable stylistic shift, from the warm, gentle and folksy humor and illustrative drawing of Gaar Williams to Holman's trademark angular, scratchy surrealism and bushel-fulls of corny gags.   

ZIPPER by Gaar Williams (his last)  -  July 6, 1935

ZIPPER by Bill Holman (his first) - July 11, 1935

November 20, 1935 to  November 5, 1938 - Smokey Stover (infrequent weekday strips)
After a few months, Holman started sneaking in occasional dailies featuring his otherwise Sunday-only feature, Smokey Stover. For about three years, Holman drew about two Smokey dailies a month.

Here's one in which we learn the full name of the character is "Smokehouse" Stover (he called him "Smokestack" at times, as well -- but in my reading, I've come across "Smokehouse" a great deal more often).

April 7, 1935 - 1973 - Spooky Topper strip for Holman's Smokey Sunday page.

Spooky was more visually flowing than Smokey Stover

December 3, 1938 - July 1, 1939 - Smokey Stover (daily)

It is not well known, but Smokey Stover ran as a daily strip for about six months. In the last couple of months, the strip changed from a gag-a-day to an awkward running continuity -- and it lost a great deal of its charm.

1930s - 1970s:  Nuts and Jolts (gag panels)

1935 - unknown - Zipper
Panel featuring a dog. Holman took it over from Gaar Williams, who died in 1935. Wikipedia article refers to this as a "Thursday Panel begun in  1939" but the Ohio State University's holdings indicate it was published daily in at least in 1935-38. Latest known example (below) is dated 1943.

Zipper by Bill Holman - TOP: Jan 20, 1938. Bottom: 1943

1973 - Wall-Nuts
According to issue #46 of Cartoonist Profiles(June, 1980) this was a gag strip that Holman did after his retirement to keep in practice, with a possible eye to someday syndicating them; these were produced in 1979/80 and were likely never published. )

Originals of these late unpublished Holmans are available on eBay for about $20 each



You can find more excellent Smokey Stover and Spooky comics at the following links:

Smokey Stover Online (the official site by Bill Holman's nephew)
Pappy's Golden Age Blog  (reprints lots of great Holman comics! Thanks for the plug, Pappy!)



Bill Holman in 1939

One of two songs based on Smokey Stover

Ahhhh - the life of a cartoonist - me for that!



Divided we fall
United we FOO
No FOO is Good FOO!
It’s a long lane that has no FOO
FOO mixed with GOO lessens POOO
A FOO on tap makes one flap
Hear no FOO,
See no FOO,
Speak no FOO
All’s FOO
That ends FOO
Little FOO peep lost her sheep
FOO while the iron is hot
Keep thy
FOO and
Will Keep
A FOO no
Roses are
red violets
are FOO
The postman always FOOS twice
In telling her age a woman is often shy in more ways than one.



"Don't race trains to crossings. If it's a tie, you lose." 

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