'Lord Longbow' strip, possibly drawn by Hugh Rankin.

Richard J. Thain was an early 20th-century staff cartoonist with the Chicago Daily News. Besides filling in on other cartoonist's features, he also created his own strip, 'Lord Longbow' (1907-1915). The humorous stories of the unreliable narrator Longbow was his longest-running series and continued by other cartoonists too. 

Early life
He was born in 1886 as Richard Jenness Thain in Oak Park, Illinois. His father, Richard S. Thain, was an advertising agent, working in Chicago. In the early 20th century, Richard Thain was part of the staff of the Chicago Daily News.

Lord Longbow
His most notable work at the News was creating the weekday comic strip 'Lord Longbow'. Starting on 13 May 1907, the feature had both speech balloons and text captions, telling the alleged heroics of the blowhard Lord Longbow. By 1911-1912, the feature was also distributed to other newspapers through the Associated Newspapers syndicate. Throughout its run, fill-in episodes were made by other in-house cartoonists, most notably by Hugh Rankin. When Thain left the strip (and the paper?) in August 1912, Rankin continued 'Lord Longbow' until 23 August 1915.

Staff artist
During his time at the Chicago Daily News, Thain was regularly filling in on the other in-house produced comic strip features. This was common practice at the time; cartoonists like Ted Brown, George Frink, R.B. Fuller, Hugh Rankin and Thain often switched art duties on each other's strips, most of the time for only one or two episodes. Between 1907 and 1910, Thain was one of the cartoonists working on and off on the 'Tiny Tinkles' feature, originally created in 1903 by Gus O'Shaughnessy. Between 1908 and 1913, Richard Thain did fill-in duties on George Frink strips like 'The Absent-Minded Man' (1908), 'The Humorous Yeggman' (1909), 'Sammy Spankem' (1909), 'The Town Blowhard' (1909) and 'Getting Wise' (1913). For longer periods of time, he succeeded Ted Brown, drawing 'On Retribution Island' (AKA 'Naughty Ned', 14 September 1907-10 October 1908), 'Si Jugalong' (30 December 1907-15 September 1908) and 'Another Wonderful Discovery' (18 September-6 October 1908). Thain's own creation, 'The Energizer', ran four times between 28 October 1909 and 31 May 1910.

Later life and death
In the 1910s, Richard Thain left the Chicago Daily News and ventured into advertising, working his way up to publicity director of the Carson Pirie Scott & Co. department store in Chicago, Illinois. During the 1940s, he was employed by the Butler Bros. retail company in Chicago. Richard J. Thain passed away on 26 August 1964, in Evanston, Illinois. His son Richard J. Thain Jr. was assistant editor of The National Underwriter, and editor of the Insurance Exchange Magazine.

Ink Slinger profile on the Stripper's Guide

Series and books by Richard Thain in stock in the Lambiek Webshop:

X

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