First 'That Little Game' cartoon (Pittsburgh Press, 16 April 1917).

Bert Link was an American newspaper cartoonist, affiliated for over fifty years with the Pittsburgh Press. He is known for his page-wide tiny comic strip series 'A Reel of Nonsense' (1915-1920) and the single-panel feature 'That Little Game' (1917-1927), both syndicated through World Color Printing.

Early life and career
He was born in 1884 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, as Bertin Frederick Link. His father was a German immigrant insurance agent, his mother a Pennsylvania native. In August 1903, Link began his long association with the Pittsburgh Press, where he worked as cartoonist, production artist and art editor for over fifty years.

Bert Link's first "reel of nonsense" as printed in the Boston Globe on 18 May 1915 (click to enlarge).

A Reel of Nonsense
In the second half of the 1910s, Link specialized in thin comic strips with simply drawn characters and backgrounds, sometimes using only stick figures. In six, eight or even more tiny pictures, spread over the entire width of a newspaper page, Link presented funny situation comedy or absurd jokes with mostly verbal humor. Characters and settings differed in each episode, as Link presented dialogues in restaurants, in family settings or on the baseball field. Because of their size, the strips were presented as (reel) movies or films, and in some papers they ran as 'A Reel of Nonsense'. Other newspapers, like the Boston Globe, ran them without a title.

It is unknown exactly when and where Link started his strip. Considering his employment with the Pittsburgh Press, it is likely that the feature started there. However, Link's strip also appeared in other papers, presumably distributed by the World Color Printing syndicate. The earliest samples can be found in the Boston Globe on 18 May 1915, and the St. Louis Glove Democrat ran them from 4 June 1915 until at least January 1920.

'One-Reel Movie Thriller' in the Akron Beacon Journal on 15 July 1922 (presumably a reprint).

That Little Game
Between 16 April 1917 and 1927, Link also offered his verbal comedy in another feature - the single-panel cartoon 'That Little Game' - starring cigar-puffing poker game players and other gamblers. It was distributed to newspapers by World Color Printing, and sold in reprints through the International Cartoon Company from the 1930s through the 1970s. In September 2004, Coachwhip Publications released a book collection of Bert Link's 'That Little Game'.

Final years and death
By the mid-1950s, Link was still with the Pittsburgh Press, serving as "art editor emeritus". At a special Press Club dinner on 17 March 1956, he and ten other veteran cartoonists were honored for over 50 years of continuous service to the Pittsburgh Press. The next day's newspaper wrote: "Man and boy, there is no one at the Pittsburgh Press who can remember when Bert Link wasn't hustling art work into the daily and Sunday editions". Describing his dayjob, the paper continued: "Bert Link has done everything from pasting pieces of different pictures into a composite to full-page cartoons. He has removed more double-chins and wrinkles from fat gals, to make them look pretty in print, than any dietary expert. And he likewise helps those who need a little extra padding here and there." The article concluded its song of praise saying: "The Press never had a nicer guy."

Bert Link died at the Fairwinds Home near Freeport, Pennsylvania in early March 1964. He was 79 year old.

Bert Link (standing, in the middle) and ten other Pittsburgh cartoonists, honored at the 17 March 1956 Press Club diner.

Ink Slinger profile on the Stripper's Guide

Series and books by Bert Link you can order today:


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