Charlie McCarthy by Ben Batsford
Charlie McCarthy (from Quebec newspaper Le Soleil, 1939)

Ben Batsford was an early 20th century American newspaper comics artist, best known for drawing the celebrity comic 'Mortimer Snerd & Charlie McCarthy', based on the puppet creations of ventriloquist Edgar Bergen. Born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in 1892 as the son of a house painter, his family moved to Winnipeg, Manitoba in Canada in March 1901. Seven years later Batsford sold his first cartoon to the Winnipeg Free Press. During World War I he was drafted into the Canadian Army and served in France until the end of the war.

Doings of the Duffs by Ben Batsford
Doings of the Duffs

In 1921 he published his first comic strip, 'Unk and Billy' (later retitled 'Billy's Uncle', 1921-1924) in the Winnipeg Free Press, distributed by George Matthews Adams Service. The comic featured a young boy, Billy, and his uncle who had all kinds of wackly hijinx. Around the same time Batsford moved to the United States and became a police reporter in New York City. Under the pen name Benbee he joined the artistic staff of King Features Syndicate and continued Walter Allman's newspaper comic 'Doings of the Duffs' (1925-1928) in the Reno Evening Gazette, as well as Ed Verdier's 'Little Annie Rooney' (1929-1930), the latter which he passed on at his turn to Darrel McClure

Frankie Doodle by Ben Batsford
Frankie Doodle (from Sparkler Comics #9 by United Features, March 1942)

Between 1934 and 1938 he took over Earl Hurd's 'The Boomers', which he renamed 'The Doodle Family' and later 'Frankie Doodle'. This comic was also published in comic books like Sparkler Comics and Tip Top Comics by United Features. In 1939 he drew a comic strip based on ventriloquist Edgar Bergen's puppet characters 'Mortimer Snerd & Charlie McCarthy'. Batsford drew the strip from July through September, and was then succeeded by Carl Buettner, who continued the feature until 1940. Batsford did comic book art through the Sangor shop in the early 1940s, illustrating 'Helpful Herbert' for Coo Coo Comics by Better Publications. Batsford passed away in 1977 in East Northport, New York.

Helpful Herbert by Ben Batsford
Helpful Herbert (Coo Coo Comics #1, October 1942)

Ink Slinger profile on the Stripper's Guide

Series and books by Ben Batsford in stock in the Lambiek Webshop:

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