Mutt and Jeff, by Bud Fisher 1910
'Mutt & Jeff', 1910.

Harry Conway Fisher, who drew the world-famous 'Mutt and Jeff' strip as "Bud" Fisher, was born in Chicago. In 1905, he left the University of Chicago in his third year to take a job as a triple-treat cartoonist (theatre, sports and general news) at the San Francisco Chronicle. He persuaded the sports editor to let him draw a page-wide daily comic strip, in imitation of Clare Briggs' 'A. Piker Clerk', called 'A. Mutt', dealing with a chronic horseplayer's wins and losses. In June 1908, 'Mutt and Jeff' moved to William Randolph Hearst's San Francisco Examiner, where it was syndicated by King Features and became a national hit. A Sunday page was added around the time the strip got its permanent title, 'Mutt and Jeff'.

Mutt and Jeff by Bud Fisher
'Mutt & Jeff'.

After a dispute with Hearst in 1913, Bud Fisher wanted greener pastures, and took the strip to the Wheeler Syndicate in 1915, where he received 1,000 dollars a week for six strips. In 1916 'Mutt & Jeff' was also adapted into animated shorts, produced by Raoul Barré. Tensions had been high in the studio, particularly because Bud Fisher often took credit for all the work there, while in reality he didn't do anything and rarely visited the place. Barré became an oil painter and poster designer, while the company was renamed the Bud Fisher Studio. Fisher soon fired Bowers over a financial dispute on how the studio was run, which also meant the end of the 'Mutt & Jeff' animated series. By 1921, Fisher was well on his way to making a top salary of 4,600 dollars a week. By this time, he grew more and more interested in racehorses, and less interested in the daily mechanics of drawing Mutt and Jeff. He had been working with ghost artists since his days with Hearst.

Among the artists who worked for Fisher were Billy Liverpool, Ed Mack, Myer MarcusKen Kling, George HerrimanHarry G. Peter and Maurice Sendak. It was eventually Al Smith who did most of the artwork. Aside from his apparent loss of interest in the strip and former cartoonist colleagues after 1934, Fisher continued to enjoy life, managing to squander most of the wealth 'Mutt and Jeff' had made him before he died on 7 September, 1954. Fisher's longtime assistant Al Smith continued the strip until 1980. Some of his scriptwriters were Betsy and Stanley 

In the United States, Bud Fisher was an influence on Milton CaniffGeorge HerrimanHank KetchamBobby London and Jay Lynch. In Europe, he found followers in Belgium (Willy Vandersteen), The Netherlands (Mark Smeets) and the United Kingdom (Ernest Shaw). In Japan he was an inspiration to Julio Shimamoto

Mutt and Jeff by Bud Fisher
'Mutt & Jeff'.

Bud Fisher at the Toonopedia

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