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MailTribune.com
  • Europe pioneered the newspaper comic strip

  • Is the comic strip section in newspapers solely an American institution or do newspapers in other countries have them, too? I'm just dying to know!
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  • Is the comic strip section in newspapers solely an American institution or do newspapers in other countries have them, too? I'm just dying to know!
    — Robert J.
    Don't die, Robert, don't die — we're happy to tell you what we know. Much as we Americans like to be the first at something, it turns out Europe beat us to the punch on this one. Not only do other countries have comics in their newspapers, the first comic panels were produced in Europe.
    The early 19th century Swiss artist Rodolphe Töpffer is regarded by many as the "father of the modern comic," although his comics were published in book form. The identity of one of the first comics producers may surprise you: Johann Wolfgang von Goethe had seven comic strips published in newspaper form in the mid-1800s. He may be better known for tragic works such as "Faust," but apparently had a sense of humor, too.
    While many European comic strips are more likely to appear in comic-book form, they also appear in a variety of newspapers, and are most likely to show up in British newspapers.
    According to the website europeisnotdead.com and various newspaper websites, here are a few of the current comics being published in Europe:
    • "Dennis and Gnasher," a British comic featuring a young lad who may not look like Dennis the Menace, but certainly seems to act like him.
    • "Wumo, formerly Wulffmorgenthaler," is produced by a pair of Danes, features social satire and has a look similar to Gary Larson's "The Far Side."
    • "Striker" — Europe is football-crazy (soccer for us Yanks) and The Sun pays tribute to the game with the comic featuring a football hero.
    • "Andy Capp" was once a staple in the Mail Tribune, but has been gone for many years. But if you want to catch up with Andy's mad-capp ways, check out the Daily Mirror.
    Our translator was taking a siesta, so we're not sure what the comics in Madrid's El País are about, but there seem to be a lot of them.
    Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to youasked@mailtribune.com. We're sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.
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