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The Newlyweds was the first American family newspaper strip. Created in 1904 by George McManus and published in New York World, the strip centered around an elegant young couple. Baby Snookums was introduced in 1907 to round out the family unit. The strip proved to be so popular that a rival newspaper, The New York American, invited McManus to join their paper. He continued The Newlyweds strip under the name Their Only Child since creators were allowed to take their characters with them if they changed the name of the strip.

American comic books got their start in the early 1900s reprinting popular newspaper strips and were sold at newsstands. The books of reprinted strips varied in shapes, sizes and quality with most being printed on pulp paper with a cardboard cover. The Newlyweds and Their Baby (1907), published by New York World, is an example of an early hardcover comic book with heavy glossy paper and color printing. The library’s copy, held at James Branch Cabell Library Special Collections and Archives, is inscribed by McManus with a sketch of baby Snookums.

George McManus (1884-1954) was born to Irish parents in St. Louis, Missouri. He dropped out of school at age 15 and went to work at The Saint Louis Republic where he published his first comic. After winning a fairly large sum of money, he moved to New York and found work creating comics for The Funny Side of the World, the Sunday comics section in Joseph Pulitzer’s New York World. McManus created many short-lived comic strips during his career; his two most famous and longest running were The Newlyweds and Bringing Up Father, a strip he created after going to work for William Randolph Hearst in 1912.

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