Sports panel with Dizzy Dugan, from The Miami News, 13 May 1927.

Irving Knickerbocker was a staff artist of the Newspaper Enterprise Association during the second half of the 1920s. He worked on several of the syndicate's in-house productions until his untimely death in 1930. Often replacing other members of the art department, he worked on such features as 'Little Joe Says' (1926-1930), 'Dizzy Dugan' (1927-1930) and 'The Tinymites' (1927-1930), among other things.

Early life
Irving S. Knickerbocker was born in 1898 in Auburn, Washington. His father, Irving Sr., was a lawyer. As a youngster, Irving Jr. lead an adventurous life. He worked on a farm in New York state, then had jobs as a saw flier in a lumber camp and as a railroad worker. During the final two years of World War I, he served with the US medical corps in France. Afterwards, he was a sailor on an ocean liner, then worked in Seattle's shipping and commercial life, while also studying art. By the mid 1920s, he moved to Cleveland, Ohio, where his association with the Newspaper Enterprise Association (NEA) began.


'The Papers Say' (The Fitchburg Sentinel, 2 August 1926).

Staff work
As an NEA staff artist, "Knick" made illustrations for feature stories on the news and sports pages, but also worked on a host of cartoon panels and comic strips. One of his early jobs was replacing Roy Grove on 'Bugs', a weekly gag strip for newspapers' radio pages. Like his predecessor, Knick managed to come up with a weekly gag variation about building and tuning radios between November 1925 and April 1926. The feature lasted until September 1927, subsequently drawn by Charles D. Small, George Swanson, Sefcik and Don Wootton. Knick moved on to 'Little Joe Says', a one-panel cartoon featuring a cross between a kid and a middle-aged man, accompanied by a wisecrack caption. He replaced Lawrence Redner in 1926, and continued it until the end of its run in June 1930. In his own feature 'The Papers Say', Knickerbocker satirically spoofed a newspaper headline in a couple of cartoons. It ran between 21 April 1926 and 13 January 1927.


'The Tinymites' (The Eugene Guard, 6 May 1927).

The Tinymites
One of the notable features Knickerbocker worked on was the picture story serial 'The Tinymites', written in rhyme by art director Hal Cochran. It was mainly an illustrated text story about a group of kids who engage in all kinds of magical adventures. Their names refer to their respective roles or appearances. Clowny is a clown, Scouty a boy scout, Coppy "plays" a cop, and Dotty wears a dotted dress, etc. Readers were encouraged to read the story and then color the picture. Once again, Knickerbocker succeeded Larry Redner, illustrating Cochran's texts between 10 January 1927 and 18 February 1930. After Knickerbocker came Joe King and George Scarbo as the regular illustrators of 'The Tinymites'. The feature ended in 1935.

Sports cartoonist
Knick was otherwise known by many newspaper readers for his daily sports cartoons. As a sub-feature he created a character called 'Dizzy Dugan', who commented on sports events in a corner of the main panel. Dizzy also appeared under the title 'J. Disraeli (Dizzy) Dugan' as a topper to Charles D. Small's Sunday comic with 'Salesman Sam' between 9 October 1927 and 23 March 1930.


'Mac'.

Mac
One of Knickerbocker's final creations for the NEA was 'Mac', a gag-a-day strip about a street kid with a giant tie. It was distributed from 10 May 1929 on as part of the syndicate's budget features, aimed at smaller newspapers. The feature was subsequently drawn by several other artists from the NEA bullpen until 1943, including Munch, Howard Boughner and Bob Moyer.

Death
Irving Knickerbocker's life and career came to an early end on 26 January 1930, when he succumbed to injuries sustained in a car accident. He was only 32 years old. The cartoonist had just delivered artwork for five new episodes of 'The Tinymites', and his ongoing features 'Dizzy Dugan', 'Little Joe Says' and 'Mac' had enough stock supply for the next couple of months. His last sports cartoon appeared on the day of his death.


The Knoxville News Sentinel, 28 January 1930.

Ink Slinger profile on the Stripper's Guide

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