'Professor Hypnotiser' (27 March 1904).

Ed Carey was an early 20th-century American comic artist who was the original creator of 'Brainy Bowers and Drowsy Duggan' (1901-1915) and contributed to 'Simon Simple' (1902-1909). His best-remembered work by his own hand was 'Professor Hypnotiser' (1903-1905). Carey was a master in drawing goofy characters with unforgettable grotesque faces. He was also frequently commissioned to continue gag-a-day comics originally created by other cartoonists, such as John A. Lemon's 'Willy Cute' (1903-1906), Hans Phildius' 'Dad in Kidland' (1911-1912) and Charles H. Wellington's 'Pa's Imported Son-In-Law' (1913-1916). The latter series eventually became a celebrity comic starring Charlie Chaplin. 

Early life and career
Edward James Carey was born in 1871 in Illinois as son of a blacksmith. Both his parents were Canadian immigrants. He started his career drawing  sports cartoons for the Chicago Inter-Ocean and The Chicago Daily News. Between July 1900 and November 1901, he published his first one-shot comics in the Chicago Daily News. These included such recurring features as 'From An Old Album' (July-November 1900), 'Aesop Revised' (February-March 1901) and 'The Meanest Man' (June-July 1901). His work could also be read in The New York Evening Telegram between 1909 and 1911 and in The New York World between 1911 and 1912. Most of it was syndicated by the McClure syndicate.

'Brainy Bowers' (14 June 1901).

Brainy Bowers and Drowsy Duggan
Carey was one of several artists for the feature 'Brainy Bowers and Drowsy Duggan' (1901-1915) for the Chicago Daily News. Appearing on the paper's joke page from 30 January 1901 onwards, Carey was the first to draw the characters. Brainy Bowers is a happy-go-lucky tramp in the same vein as Frederick Burr Opper's 'Happy Hooligan'. The main difference is that Brainy's big nose, lips, beard and speech were clearly meant to evoke a Jewish stereotype. Yet Brainy wasn't malicious or stupid. He frequently outwits the police and makes other people do difficult or exhausting work for him, so he can reap the benefits. The other title character is a stick figure, who didn't get his name until 1904. By December 1901, Roy W. Taylor drew the feature, but Carey returned for the Sunday strip between 12 April 1903 and 25 June 1905. From then on, George Frink and a certain Burns alternated on the feature, after which Ted Brown (1911-1914) and Pierre J. Kinder (1914-1915) ended its run. The 1905 book publication called 'Brainy Bowers and Drowsy Duggan Getting on in the World with No Visible Means of Support (Stories Told in Pictures to Make Their Telling Short)' was not only notable for its long title, but also for being the first collection of daily newspaper strip reprints.

Simon Simple
Between 6 April 1902 and 10 January 1909, Carey drew 'Simon Simple' for the New York World. Like the name implies, it centers around a well-meaning but utterly naïve twit, who could have easily inspired Bill Griffith's 'Zippy the Pinhead'. The early 'Simon Simple' episodes often appeared as a jam page with A.D. Reed's 'Mister Bowser' (1901-1902). Ironically enough, Carey would make a panel cartoon with the same title for the Boston Globe in 1915. It was turned into a text feature with illustrations by Carey in the following year. Another connection with McClure colleague Reed was that in 1903 Carey ghosted a couple of episodes for Reed's 'Uncle Pike'.

Simple Simon by Ed Carey
'Simple Simon' (1 June 1902).

Professor Hypnotiser
Another early series by Carey was 'Professor Hypnotiser' (1903-1905). It featured a tall professor with a high hat and cane who always tried to hypnotise people to his own advantage, but usually he ends up fooled himself. The series ran sporadically between 1 February 1903 and 23 July 1905.

Willy Cute
In 1905, Carey took over John A. Lemon's 'Willy Cute', originally created on 5 April 1903 for The Daily Reporter. The pranks of the truly nasty little boy Willy were drawn by Carey until the series was discontinued on 17 June 1906.

Weary Willie
Between 7 May and 26 November 1905, Carey drew a short-lived comic strip about the tramp 'Weary Willie' (not to be confused with Tom Browne's UK strip 'Weary Willie and Tired Tim' from about a decade earlier).

Dolby's Double
From 2 April 1909 until 16 September 1910, Carey published the comic strip 'Dolby's Double' (1909-1910) in The New York Evening Telegram, which centered around a businessman named Dolby who had a dobbelganger named Everett. Everett did countless illegal and nasty things for which Dolby was always blamed. This would led to his familiar catchphrase: "But - it wasn't me! It was my double!" The gimmick grew tired by the next year, after which Carey discontinued the series.

Dad in Kidland
'Dad in Kidland' (1911-1912) was a comic strip created by Hans Phildius in May 1911 and then continued by Ed Carey in the following month. It centered around a land named 'Kidland' where the children act like adults and adults act like children. One thing that could be said about this bizarre premise was that it at least hadn't been done before in a newspaper comic. About half a century later, Belgian comic artist Jef Nys would create a story within his 'Jommeke' series named 'Kinderen Baas' (1965), which had the same idea, though in his case as the result of a scientific experiment. It is unlikely that Nys was familiar with 'Dad in Kidland'.

'The Troubles of Dictionary Jaques by Ed Carey
'The Troubles of Dictionary Jaques'. 

The Troubles of Dictionary Jaques
Carey's 'The Troubles of Dictionary Jaques' (1912-1913) centered around a stereotypical Frenchman whose knowledge of English is so bad that he frequently causes misunderstandings and trouble. Apart from this gimmick the series featured a lot of verbal wordplay. The creator's French was just as bad, by the way, since the name 'Jacques' is usually spelled with a 'c' in the middle. 

Pa's Imported Son-In-Law (Charlie Chaplin)
Between 1914 and 1916, Carey continued 'Pa's Imported Son-In-Law', a comic strip originally created by Charles H. Wellington in 1913. He was one of several artists to work on the feature, while Wellington moved on to launch the similar 'Pa's Son-in-law' for the Newspaper Feature Service. By April 1915, the strip was restyled as 'Return Engagement of Pa's Imported Son-in-law' (1915-1916), also known as 'Pa's Family and Their Friends'. Cashing in on the fame of Charlie Chaplin, the comic strip now starred the famous Hollywood comedian. Other artists who created comics based on Chaplin's tramp character were Stuart Carothers, E.C. Segar, Bertie Brown, Freddie Adkins, Don Newhouse, Roy Wilson, Reginald Parlett, Henry Puttick, Terence Wakefield, Wally Robertson, C. Rojo, Raoul Thomen, Mat, Pierre Lacroix, Jean-Claude Forest, Jim Russell, Mariel Dauphin, Pascal Radulescu, Ramón Alonso, Patrick Lesueur, Sergio Zaniboni and Richard Cowdry.

'Pa's Imported Son-in-law' (1916), starring Charlie Chaplin. 

In August 1914, Carey succeeded Harry J. Westerman on the family Sunday comic 'Dinkelspiels', written by George V. Hobart. The strip ran until 11 April 1915. Among Carey's other short-lived strips for McClure are 'Gee! But It's Great To Be Crazy' (October-December 1904), 'Joe of the Musical Habit' (July-October 1905), 'The Education of Master Tommy Pipp' (17 December 1905 - 25 June 1906), 'Mister Rolly-Polly - The Man Who Tumbles Into Things' (3 December 1905-4 February 1906) and 'Mister Steplively' (June-July 1906), while he additionally made 'Adventures of a Bad Half-Dollar' (30 October 1909- 18June 1910) and 'Ye Getting Of Ye Goat' (December 1910-April 1911) for the New York Evening Telegram.

Of all these comics, 'Adventures of a Bad Half-Dollar' is interesting because it took an idea already used a century earlier in William Heath's 'History Of A Coat' (1825), namely making a comic strip about an object moving from owner to owner. In Heath's case it was a coat, in Carey's case a coin. Two decades later Frank King would make another comic strip about a coin moving from owner to owner, namely 'That Phoney Nickel' (1930-1933). 

Ed Carey passed away on 10 October 1928 in White Plains, New York, from a cerebral hemorrhage.

Dad In Kidland by Ed Carey
'Dad In Kidland' (22 October 1911).

Ed Carey on the Screwball Comics blog

Series and books by Ed Carey you can order today:


If you want to help us continue and improve our ever- expanding database, we would appreciate your donation through Paypal.