Robert L. Ripley was the creator of the 'Believe It Or Not!' cartoon panel, that was a staple of American newspapers in the first half of the 20th century. The cartoon featured true-life oddities from around the globe, always with the tagline "Believe It... Or Not!" The first cartoon appeared in 1918 in the New York Globe. The success of the comic grew, and Ripley became a true adventurer, travelling around the world to find information for his comic. Throughout his career, Ripley visited 198 countries and did 18 complete trips around the world.
Robert Leroy Ripley was born on Christmas Day 1893 in Santa Rosa, California (some sources say 1890). A self-taught artist, he sold his first drawing to Life magazine at age 14. Besides comics, Ripley was a sports fanatic. He could combine these two passions through his job at the San Francisco Chronicle, where he started cartooning for the sports section. He then moved to New York City, where he began working as a sports cartoonist for the New York Globe. In this capacity, Ripley produced his first collection of odd facts under the name 'Champs and Chumps', based at athletic achievements. The title was soon changed to 'Believe It Or Not!'. In 1923, Ripley hired Norbert Pearlroth as his researcher. By 1930, the feature moved to the New York American. It gained international success after it was picked up by the King Features Syndicate.
The cartoon's success spawned radio and TV shows, books and museums which continued into the 21st century. Ripley had his golden age in the 1930s and 1940s. The phrase "Believe It or Not!" became everyday speech. Throughout the USA, people came to halls and theaters to listen to Ripley's lectures and see his films. Robert L. Ripley became a celebrated public figure. He was the first cartoonist to become a millionaire through his work.
Artists that have worked on Ripley's feature include Joe Campbell (1946-1956), Art Sloggatt (1971-75), Clem Gretter (1941-49), Carl Dorese, Bob Clarke (1943-44), Stan Randall, Paul Frehm (1938-78), Walter Frehm (1948-89), Don Wimmer (1990-2004), and currently John Graziano.