'Annibelle' episode, reprinted in The Funnies #6.

Dorothy Urfer was an American cartoonist, who worked for the Newspapers Enterprise Association during the 1920s and 1930s. At the time, she was one of the few women in her profession, and is best remembered for originating the all-female comic strip 'Annibelle' (1929-1936).

Early life
Born in Indianapolis, Indiana, in 1905, Dorothy A. Urfer was the third of four children. Her father Fred was a jeweler who later in life ran a furniture store. Dorothy worked as a dental assistant before moving to Cleveland, Ohio, to fill a staff position with the Cleveland branch of the Newspaper Enterprise Association. Her submission of twenty-five of her own cartoons had earned her the job. The Muncie Evening Press reported the joyous event in the paper of 25 April 1929, stating that "Miss Urfer graduated from Central High School with the class of 1922 and her only experience in cartooning was gained as a member of the high school art classes and her own daily practices". 

'Radiomania' (The Daily Tribune, 21 December 1929).

Arriving in Cleveland in late April 1929, Urfer remained on the staff of the NEA until at least 1936. Her first stint was taking over the syndicate's radio page cartoon series 'Radiomania', which she did from May 1929 until September 1930. She was the third cartoonist in line, following Joe King and Art Krenz, and after her, the series was drawn by Charles Okerbloom, then George Scarbo. Dorothy Urfer also provided illustrations to poetry book collections published by the NEA Service, for instance the 1935 book 'Candlelight and Other Poems' by Helen Welshimer.

'The Antics of Annibelle' (The Palm Beach Post, 9 January 1931).

By the time she dropped 'Radiomania', Urfer had already started her own feature, called 'Annibelle'. The first episode debuted on the women's page of the NEA's Everyweek magazine section on 29 December 1929. 'The Antics of Annibelle' was originally a single-tier comic strip in black-and-white, printed either horizontally or vertically; by 1935 the feature moved to the color comics section, where it was expanded to two rows. Some episodes portrayed conversations between the young, blonde Annibelle and her aristocrat friends, while others focused on Annibelle's romantic life as a serial dater. In March 1936 'Annibelle' was taken over by Virginia Krausmann, who continued her weekly exploits until 15 October 1939. 'Annibelle' also ran in the Québec daily La Patrie in 1936-1937, and was additionally reprinted in the Dell comic book 'The Funnies' (1936-1937).

illustration by Dorothy Urfer
Cover illustration for Dollars and Sense.

Other work
Besides 'Annibelle', Urfer also provided illustrations for articles and text serials in the Everyweek section, which came with the Times Picayune, Wisconsin Rapids Daily Tribune, Lima Sunday News and The Sunday Oregonian, among other papers. 

'The Antics of Annibelle' (The Palm Beach Post, 6 July 1930).

Later life
Dorothy Urfer married fellow cartoonist Joe King on 31 August 1935. The couple lived in Weston, Connecticut and eventually settled in New York City. While King switched from cartooning to illustration and commercial art, Urfer's own career seems to have ended shortly after her marriage, with the exception of  'The Little Red Bicycle' (Whitman Publishing, 1953), a picture story book presumably written and drawn by her. Alex Jay of the Stripper's Guide blog noticed a book called 'Mary Alden’s Cook Book for Children' (1955), illustrated by Dorothy King; highly likely the same artist. Dorothy Urfer King however spent most of her later life repairing and restoring dolls. She passed away in 1996.

Dorothy Urfer's work graced newspaper pages of the 1920s and 1930s with sophisticated and witty society girls, and along with Dot Cochran, Ethel Hays, Virginia Huget, Fay King, Virginia Krausmann and Gladys Parker, is considered a stylish pioneer of the early era of American female cartoonists.

Article from The Muncie Evening Press, 25 April 1929.

Ink Slinger profile on the Stripper's Guide

Series and books by Dorothy Urfer you can order today:


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