Umbrella Man by Dok Hager

John Ross Hager was one of the pioneers in early 20th century "funny animal" comics and best known for 'Dok's Dippy Duck'. Born in Terre Haute, Indiana, in 1858 he nevertheless had the opportunity to study in Zürich, Switzerland. Back in his native town, Hager started working as a dentist, hence his nickname "Doc". In 1889 he moved to Seattle, Washington, where he continued his practice. 

On 1 November 1909 he chose for another profession and became a full-time cartoonist for The Seattle Daily Times. He mostly illustrated the weather forecasts in the form of a one-panel cartoon. Hager used a recurring character, called 'Sport', who always carried an umbrella. The character was inspired by a real life person called Robert W. Patten, who was a local eccentric and the inventor of the umbrella hat. By 3 May 1913, the title of the feature was changed from the uninspired 'The Weather' into 'The Umbrella Man'.

Voddyvills by Dok Hager
Voddyvills (1911)

Sport, or 'The Umbrella Man', as he was better known, also received a sidekick in the form of a talking duck. This character, 'The Kid', received its own spin-off on 31 May 1912 under the title 'Dok's Dippy Duck'. This became a seven- and sometimes four-panel gag-a-day comic in which the duck commented on the daily news, most notably the on-going First World War. The strip was eventualy renamed as 'Waddles' and appeared in The Christian Science Monitor. This rendition of the strip was drawn by Hager's son, George Hager and written by his daughter Mary Hager Dearborn, who had taken over their father's work when Dok became blind in 1925. Hager was also the author of an obscure Sunday page called 'Voddyvills', which was syndicated in 1911. Hager passed away in 1932.

Dok's Dippy Duck, by Dok Hager 1917

Series and books by Dok Hager in stock in the Lambiek Webshop:


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