Smitty, 1927

Walter Berndt started his cartooning career when he was sixteen years old. He got a job at the New York Journal, where he worked as an office boy at the art department. Here, he met some famous artists like George Herriman, Milt Gross and Winsor McCay. In 1915 he started drawing sports cartoons for the newspaper. In 1916 he took over the gag panel 'And the Fun Began' from Milt Gross. Berndt left the Journal in 1920 to devote himself to creating his own comic. His first, 'That's Different', only lasted for one year, after which he was hired by the New York World, owned by Joseph Pulitzer, where he worked on 'Billy the Office Boy'. He was fired for insubordination after a few weeks.

Herbie, from the strip Smitty, by Walter Berndt (1945)

Then Berndt made the best move of his career. He took his comic to a syndicate and renamed it 'Smitty'. The comic was sold to a variety of newspapers and lasted for over 50 years, until Berndt's retirement in 1973. 'Smitty' told the story of a typical American office boy, just the way Berndt had begun his own career.

Smitty cover, by Walter BerndtSmitty cover, by Walter Berndt

During the strip's run, the character grew up from 13 to about 23 and also got married. Smitty's brother 'Herbie' also matured and became leading character in the Sunday page's topper from 1938 to 1960. Walter Berndt died in 1979 at the age of 80.

Smitty, by Walter Berndt (1948)

Series and books by Walter Berndt you can order today:


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