original panel by Harry J. Tuthill

Harry J. Tuthill's "poor but honest upbringing" in Chicago, Illinois made him an independent and industrious young man. At fifteen, he left Chicago to seek his fortune and traveled the midwestern U.S. with a carnival, as a "barker" for a medicine show.

In his late teens, Tuthill moved to St. Louis, Missouri, where he found steady work as foreman, at $10 a week at the St. Louis Dairy. He washed milk cans for seven years. At 37 years, Tuthill still hadn't sold a single drawing. Bob Grable, at the World Color Printing Co., served as his mentor, and finally a few of his editorial cartoons were bought by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. He began taking art classes at night at Washington University, and was hired by The St. Louis Star during World War I. At the Star, he produced "topical" cartoons and comics full-time.

This opportunity helped him develop new ideas for comic strips. In 1918, Tuthill created 'Home Sweet Home', based on the crazy dramas of apartment life he lived as a young man. This domestic daily strip ran for about six years, and came to feature George and Josephine Bungle. This popular strip was retitled 'The Bungle Family' in 1924. Strips such as 'Alice and her Bothersome Little Brother' and 'Napoleon Blunder' also came from this period.

Little Brother, 1933

Tuthill's 'Bungle Family' strip was bought by McClure Syndicate, and then by McNaught Syndicate. He always preferred to work at his home studio in St. Louis, and to send large bundles of Sunday drawings and dailies to New York. All of the work from 1919 to 1926 was produced at his home at 4537 Tower Grove Place in St. Louis.

'The Bungle Family' evolved during the 1920s and 1930s, and the strip made Harry Tuthill a very wealthy man. The strip was carried by 100 to 150 U.S. newspapers. He continued to draw it for the syndicate until 1942, and on his own until 1945, after which he retired and led a quiet life until his death in 1957.

(Biography courtesy of Stan Henderson)

original panel by Harry J. Tuthill

Tuthill virtual exhibition

Series and books by H. J. Tuthill in stock in the Lambiek Webshop: