Joe Palooka by Ham Fisher

Born in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, Ham Fisher (Hammond Edward Fisher) started as a journalist during his teenage years. In 1919, Ham Fisher got his first job as an editorial and sports cartoonist. In 1920, he drew his first 'Joe Palooka' episodes and tried selling them, without success. In the following years, he was a traveling strip salesman for the McNaught Syndicate. In 1927, Fisher moved to New York, where he began looking again for a syndicate willing to buy his comic.

Joe Palooka, by Ham Fisher

In 1928, the strip about heavyweight boxing champion 'Joe Palooka' finally began its run. Fisher immediately started looking for young talent to work on the strip for him, and found Al Capp, among others, who later complained about Fisher's meager wages.

Palooka Joe, by Ham Fisher (1946)

This resulted in a 20 year mutual feud between the two artists. Fisher hired away Capp's assistant Mo Leff, while Capp riduculed Fisher's plastic surgery in his 'Li'l Abner' comic strip. Out of spite, Fisher took Capp to court on the accusation of obscenity in Capp's Strip, 'Li'l Abner'. To prove his point, he used faked examples of the strip, which he made himself. When this fact came out, Capp won the case, and Fisher was expelled from the National Cartoonists Society.

comic art by Ham Fisher

In 1955, Fisher ended his life. The feud and Fisher's suicide have been fictionalized with all names changed and many details altered in the Max Allan Collins mystery novel 'Strip for Murder'.

Joe Palooka by Ham Fisher

Last updated: 2009-06-20

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