Brinkley Girls & Doggies

Nell Brinkley was an outstanding cartoonist of the 1910's and 1920's, finally gaining recognition (above all, thanks to the work of comics scholar Trina Robbins) for her "Brinkley girls", sparklingly cheerful and active flappers that looked pretty but acted courageously and independently in Brinkley's stunning one-page compositions and serial adventure stories.

I was leafing through Trina Robbins' edited collection The Brinkley Girls and discovered an obsession with dogs of all sizes, temperaments and breeds...

Miss Prudence Prim, in spite of her name, is a great flirt, but her doggy gets to kiss the handsome gentleman this time.

During the First World War, "Golden-Eyes" couldn't stay away from blood-curdling adventures in No-Man's-Land, always with her brave collie Uncle Sam by her side. Note how Nell Brinkely's persistently pretty style renders even the terrible and spiky-helmeted Hun hunky.

"Golden-Eyes" and Uncle Sam - her lover Billy is seen in the portrait, but look who gets the cuddles.

In "The Fortunes of Flossie", a seemingly silly flapper gets her future told by various Gypsies and sideshow shamans, but somehow the predictions always come true. The jealous Billy overhears how Flossie is promised a kiss by a stranger...

More baby dogs!

About Nell Brinkley at the Ohio State University Libraries website
And at Wikipedia



In the 1920's, comics were widely read by children and adults alike. Somehow, a collective amnesia ensued after WW2 in the Western world, and comics were increasingly demoted to "kid's stuff" and regulated as a potential threat to the child's development. (In Japan, comics were reborn as the modern manga instead, but that's another story.)

One of the most popular comics in Finland was the homemade "Junnu", written by Veli Giovanni (humour editor of the popular weekly Suomen Kuvalehti) and drawn by Alexander Tawitz and Poika Vesanto (who introduced speech bubbles)and later by Arnold Tilgmann. The following page is an example of A. Tawitz's artwork from 1929. It's a meta comic discussing readers' opinions of Junnu's personality - should he be nice or naughty?

Junnu, the protagonist, was a young man with a prominent nose and an eternal crush on the pretty Alli. Nice guy Junnu's everyday adventures recycled some ancient comic strip themes: his awkward attempts at romance would annoy Alli, which gave the dandy rival Tip-top-Olli an advantage. Junnu's little helpers, the mischievous twins Niku and Naku, would often cause more shenanigans. The Junnu stories are like a realistic version of Donald Duck's triangle drama, of course created many years earlier.

Junnu appealed to both children and adults. Junnu merchandise included a china set, a toothbrush set and tableware.

Junnu strips have been republished in the anthology Laikku 05 - Kotimaiset kuvasarjat 1900-1945. (Review in Finnish)


Sessue Hayakawa

Sessue Hayakawa, originally uploaded by punalippu.

The Japanese-born Hollywood star in the silent film His Birthright from 1918.


John Held Jr.

The Jazz Age cartoonist par excellence, with a handsome doggy (from the Condé Nast archives, which for some reason won't work in my browser right now).

"Show Monsieur the sights?"

"Show Monsieur the sights?", originally uploaded by punalippu.

Very early cartoon by John Held Jr. in The New York Times, 1920. His style would develop in a completely different way during the twenties.

You can compare samples of his early and later work here.