The Little King was a comic strip created by Otto Soglow, telling its stories in a style using images and very few words, as in pantomime.
Soglow’s character first appeared on 7 June 1930 in The New Yorker and soon showed signs of becoming a successful strip. The Little King began publications in comic book issues from 1933, was licensed for a 1933-34 series of animated cartoons by Van Beuren Studios and featured in an advertising campaign for Standard Oil.
It became evident early on that William Randolph Hearst was determined to add The Little King to his King Features Syndicate newspaper strips, but he was hindered by Soglow’s contractual obligations with The New Yorker. While seeing out the final period of the contract, Soglow produced a placeholder strip for King Features, The Ambassador, quite similar to The Little King in characters, style and story situations. One week after its final publication in The New Yorker, The Little King resumed as a King Features Sunday strip, on September 9, 1934.
The strip continued a successful run with several more animated cartoon appearances and advertising campaigns, and Soglow was awarded the 1966 National Cartoonists Society Reuben Award for the strip. The Little King ran until Soglow’s death in 1975.
The strip is notable for having virtually no dialogue; the title character never speaks. The Ambassador was nearly identical in format, and the main characters of the two strips were similar. When The Ambassador gave way for The Little King in 1934, the reader could not be certain if it was the Little King who had arrived into Hearst syndication or the Ambassador who had removed some disguise.
The Little King (mustachioed, bearded, and clad in velvet and ermine) was small of stature, but as wide as he was tall. He was a childlike, cheerful fellow who lived to have fun. The final panel of the comic strip often showed His Majesty pursuing a hobby, playing a children’s game, flirting with a pretty woman, or otherwise enjoying himself in an unkingly fashion while neglecting his “official” duties.
53 strips Sundays 1944
52 strips Sundays 1945
52 strips Sundays 1946
10 strips various