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By Librarian Alyssa, Omak Public Library

For this Week in History we are going to look at some comic strips that were printed in the Leavenworth Echo and the Oroville Weekly Gazette. The reason I wanted to look at these two different comics is because they are very different comics printed around the same time period. These comics were not locally made and printed but, instead, syndicated around the United States in different newspapers.

The two comics we are going to talk about are the Mickie, the Printer’s Devil by Charles Sughroe and Radio Ralf and His Friends by Jack Wilson. Both of these comics talk about the issues and what people were thinking about during the time. This also highlights how Leavenworth and Oroville were looking at different “modern” issues.

Mickie, the Printer’s Devil

Comic strip

Leavenworth Echo Nov. 12, 1920

Comic Strip

Leavenworth Echo Nov. 11, 1921

Comic strip

Leavenworth Echo, Nov. 10, 1922

Mickie is an apprentice for a small printing press. This comic strip looks at the issues of small printing, the woes of doing stories, getting people to buy the newspaper, and other daily life aspects that they face. The reason it is called “the printer’s devil” is because apprentices were called this. It was a term that used to be common, however you do not hear it much today when it comes to the newspaper publishing world. In these comics we follow Mickie as he tries to figure out life as a newspaper apprentice and life in general, since he is a child.

What is fun about old comics is learning some language from the era it was published and insight into In one comic Mickie is called a “cake eater”, which I wasn’t even sure what it meant either. After looking it up it means a person of fashion, ladies man, or even someone who over indulges. 

The reason, I believe, that this comic was published in Leavenworth was due to the fact that Leavenworth was a small town and the Leavenworth Echo was a small printing press. This would make the comic relatable not only to the readers but also those publishing them.

Radio Ralf and His Friends

Comic Strip

Oroville Weekly Gazette Nov.10, 1922


Oroville Weekly Gazette Nov. 9, 1923

Oroville didn’t publish Mickie’s comics, only Radio Ralf and His Friends. This comic looks into the changes in the world in regards to technology and culture. In the 1920s the United States was coming out of World War I and saw a boom in a lot of ways. Radios were people’s way of learning and hearing from the outside world. Just as automobiles did, radios allowed people to connect faster than ever before. This could be the reason why Oroville published the Ralf comics, since it was something the community could relate to compared to other publishers during the same time. Based on a search online it would seem as though these comics focused a lot on radios and gaining access to information that is aired on them. This technology was becoming more common across the  country, which gained momentum as more things were aired on radios throughout the 1920s. It is amazing how quickly technology can change and adapt to spread American culture to every corner of the country. 

During the 1920s there was a rise in full page layouts of comics, which then died down during World War II as people turned away from comics to focus on global issues. This of course did not kill the comic industry, instead it just delayed it for a greater comeback after World War II. 

Omak Librarian Alyssa writes a monthly blogpost about NCW history using information she researches and gathers through the Washington Digital Newspapers,which is free to library patrons.The resource offers free online access to articles dating back to territorial times and contains more than 6,500 articles and 50,000 reels of microfilm.

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