comic art by Sidney Smith
Comic art by Sidney Smith. 

Robert Sidney Smith was the creator of the great American family epic 'The Gumps'. In the 1900s he possibly ghosted C.M. Payne's 'Coon Hollow Folks' (later retitled 'Bear Creek Folks', 1903-1908). In 1908, at age 40, he published his first original comic strip, 'Buck Nix', retitled 'Old Doc Yak' once he was hired by The Chicago Tribune. In 1919 he was forced to abandon this strip, due to the immense popularity of his latest family comic, 'The Gumps'.

Smith was inspired to create a family comic due to the success of Chic Jackson's 'Roger Bean'. On 12 February 1917 the first episode of Smith's 'The Gumps' appeared in print. It became an enormous success and was adapted into a radio serial. Stanley Link was an assistant on 'The Gumps', ghosting the Sunday comic from 1926 on. Sol Hess wrote dialogue, while Harold Gray provided lettering. The daily gags of the Gump family boosted the circulation of The Chicago Tribune and brought Smith fame and tremendous wealth. He spent much of his earnings on houses and cars. In 1927 he and Stanley Link created another comic, 'Ching Chow', printed as a topper next to 'The Gumps' series. 

Even the Great Depression did not affect Smith's success. In 1935 a new contract with the paper ensured him a million dollar deal for the next three years, plus a brand new Rolls Royce as a bonus. Tragically, Smith drove home after having closed the deal and collided with another car. He died instantly. 'The Gumps' was continued by Gus Edson until the final episode in 1959. Edson also continued 'Ching Chow' until 1957. Afterwards the series was continued by Will Henry, Rocco Lotto, Will Levinson and Henri Arnold. The final episode of 'Ching Chow' was printed on 12 May 1990. 

Sidney Smith was an influence on Geoffrey FoladoriHank Ketcham and Basil Wolverton

The Gumps, by Sidney Smith 1924
'The Gumps'. 

Series and books by Sidney Smith you can order today:


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