Tippy Tacker's Christmas Adventure (24 December 1938)

Robert Pilgrim (also referred to as Bob Pilgrim) was an American cartoonist who was at least active in the 1920s and 1930s. He was mostly associated with the New York-based Bell Syndicate, and is best-known for his seasonal comic strips, which appeared in local American newspapers during the Christmas period in the 1930s. Pilgrim also made educational features like 'Strange Food Facts' (1934-1935), 'Now I Know' (1935-1936) and 'Food For Thought' (1936-1940s).

Adventures in Wonderland
Introduction to 'Adventures in Wonderland' (22 November 1930)

Pilgrim's Christmas stories generally commenced somewhere in November and ran until late December or early January. The oldest known story is 'A Christmas Adventure' (25 November 1929 - 1 January 1930), and was credited to Pilgrim and Earl Duvall. It was syndicated through Paramount Features. The following stories, 'Adventures in Wonderland' (12 November 1930 - 3 January 1931) and 'A Trip to Santa Claus Land' (30 November 1931 - 2 January 1932), were distributed by Independent Features and Press Features, respectively. After that, Pilgrim settled at the New York-based Bell Syndicate. The 1934 Christmas story was a reprise of Pilgrim and Duvall's original story from 1929, although now credited to "Leslie C. Mitchell". The 1936 and 1937 stories were both titled 'Dot and Dan in Santaland', but had different narratives. The last known story, 'Tippy Tacker's Christmas Adventure', ran from 28 November through 24 December 1938. The daily installments generally appeared away from the regular comics pages, and were placed at random amongst the general-news and advertising columns. 'Dot and Dan in Santaland' also appeared in Eastern Color's comic book 'Famous Funnies' in 1937.

Dot and Dan in Santa Land
Dot and Dan in Santa Land (1 December 1936)

The basic outset of the stories is rather generic. Two kids, usually a boy and a girl, are either in search of or invited to Santa's workshop. They endulge in the magic of Santa and his elves, while learning about the true Christmas spirit. The first story starred Tad and Tillie, who try to find Santa Claus with the aid of a scout called the Fuzzy Wuzzy Man. Dot and Dan were characters who appeared in the continuities most often; at least in 1931, 1936 and 1937. They are accompanied by either a living snowman or one of Santa's elves. In the announcement of the 1930 story 'Adventures in Wonderland', the author himself got a letter from Santa Claus, who asked him to help him give the children a very special treat. The Dickensian 'Tippy Tacker's Christmas Adventure' stars a poor kid who is Santa's Mother Goose Land, where he meets all kinds of fairy tale characters such as Humpty Dumpty and Little Bo Peep.

The Week in Washington by Bob Pilgrim
'The Week in Washington' from the Press and Sun-Bulletin (Binghamton, New York, 11 May 1929)

Pilgrim furthermore illustrated newspaper text stories, and made a political cartoon called 'This Week in Washington' in at least April and May 1929 and an educational feature called 'Do You Know?' in 1929. He was also the first author of another educational weekly panel called 'Now I Know' (1935-1937). Inspired by Ripley's 'Believe It Or Not', the feature appeared in newspaper children's sections through the Bell Syndicate. Pilgrim drew the panel from 3 March 1935 until somewhere in 1936, after which Calvin Fader took over until the final installment on 7 November 1937. Other educational features by Bob Pilgrim dealt with food-related oddities and fun facts about food. These included the syndicated 'Strange Food Facts' (1934-1935) and 'Food For Thought' (1936-1940s), which appeared in Family Circle, the house organ distributed by Safeway Food Stores.

Pilgrim's 'Tippy Tacker' was discovered by Star-Telegram editor/cartoonist Michael H. Price in the 1990s. Price took it upon him to restore the strip and reprint it in his paper he worked for. He eventually re-drew the entire thing in cooperation with artist Dale Taylor, and printed a colorized version in the weekly children's supplement Class Acts.

Strange Food FactsStrange Food Facts
Strange Food Facts from The Gaffney Ledger (22 March 1934) and the Reading Times from Pennsylvania (24 October 1935)

Michael H. Price about his discovery of Tippy Tacker

Series and books by Robert Pilgrim in stock in the Lambiek Webshop:

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