Andy Gump was one of the first comic strips ever syndicated and distributed in the United States. The author, Sidney Smith, lived in Lake Geneva IL and the Hearst newspapers gave him a large statue of Andy which was moved to the city park when he died in 1937.
This is not that statue. It was destroyed in a drunken college riot in 1967. Nor is this the statue that currently abides in the Lake Geneva Museum. This is the replacement statue from 1967, which, itself, was stolen during a college riot in 1989 and never recovered. Lake Geneva used to be a Spring Break destination for people from farther north who think Northern Illinois is warm in May.
We were in Lake Geneva in 1975 and actually sought out this statue because Kathy’s dad used to call our younger son Andy Gump when he was first born. He didn’t have much of a jaw line at that time.
Page from my new sketchbook. This page features some interesting information on Andy Gump, the hero of Sidney Smith’s early-twenteith century newspaper comic ‘The Gumps’. For those of you with normal, non-cartoonist font size 8 eye-sight, here’s what I’ve uncovered so far…
“Andy Gump by Sidney Smith (1877-1935) was created in 1917. It was the first comic strip to be featured in the Chicago Tribune. Smith lived in Lake Geneva, WI from 1922 to his death.
The idea for the strip evolved from Joseph Patterson, the editor of the Tribune. Smith based each of the Gumps off of people he met in Bloomingdale, IL through his brother, Dr. Thomas Smith, a local dentist. The name of the strip came from Patterson’s colloquial title for the masses that read the Tribune: 'gumps’. The comic strip ran fro 42 years- 1917-1959, and was successful enough to launch media outlets such as a radio sitcom, as well as 50 animated shorts between 1920-21.
Smith’s career was marked by constant changes to style, theme, and appeal to mass audiences. He started out as a chalk talk speaker, and his first strip 'Old Dok Yak’ featured talking animals. Smith had the audacity to kill Mary Gold (a beloved character in the world of the 'The Gumps’)- marking the first use of a reoccurring character dying in a weekly strip. Smith never apologized for his creative efforts to make the most of the Gumps’ lives.
The Andy Gump statue in Lake Geneva, WI was ruined in a 1967 riot, stolen in 1989, and a plaque was stolen in 1957 but was later recovered.
Other sketches featured on this page: knick-knacks and interesting whatchamacallits at Maple Park Antiques, also in Lk. Geneva.
Autumnal tree and hairy coo at Royal Oak Farms in Harvard, Il.