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On 12 March 1951, Hank Ketcham’s “Dennis the Menace” debuted in 16 newspapers. Today it runs in over 1,000 papers in 48 countries, in 19 languages. The main characters are based on the real Ketcham family: The father Henry Mitchell is Ketcham himself, his wife Alice is modeled after his 1st wife Alice, and Dennis after their 4-year-old son Dennis. The grumpy neighbor Mr. Wilson is named after one of Ketcham’s teachers. Charles M. Schultz introduced “Peanuts” on 2 October 1950. It ran until 13 February 2000, the day after Schultz’ death, after 17,897 strips. At its peak it ran in over 2,600 papers in 75 countries and was read by 355 million people in 21 languages. The main character, Charlie Brown, was loosely based on Schultz himself, and Linus and Shermy were named after his friends. Peppermint Patty was modeled after a cousin. Charlie Brown’s unrequited love interest, the never-seen Little Red-Haired Girl, was inspired by an accountant at a correspondence school they both worked at, who rejected Schultz’ marriage proposal.
Johnny Hart’s “B.C.” comic strip about cavemen 1st appeared on 17 February 1958. Its main character, B.C., was based on Hart himself, and Peter was Peter Reuter, and Thor was Thornton Kinney, close friend who worked with Hart at General Electric; Clumsy Carp and Curls were high school buddies Jack Caprio and “Curly” Boland; Wiley was his brother-in-law Wiley Baxter. On 9 November 1964 Hart and Brant Parker introduced “The Wizard of Id,” set in medieval Europe.Mort Walker introduced a lazy, laid back student named “Spider’ for “The Saturday Evening Post” but realized that he could make more money doing multi-panel comic strips for daily newspapers than he could with 1-panel cartoons for weeklies, so he renamed the character Beetle Bailey. The new strip began on 4 September 1950 but on 13 March Beetle quit school and joined the army, where he remained for the rest of the strip’s existence. Camp Swampy was a fictional version of Camp Crowder in Missouri, where Walker had been stationed during World War II. Walker himself appeared in the strip, not as Beetle but as the anal-retentive young lieutenant Sonny Fuzz, who made his 1st appearance on 7 March 1956. Private Plato, the camp’s philosopher, was the only character to evolve with Beetle from college student to soldier; he was modeled after Walker’s buddy Dik Browne. Walker and Browne then co-created “Hi and Lois,” about Beetle Bailey’s sister and brother-in-law, in 1954. Browne’s “Hägar the Horrible” 1st appeared in February 1973, about Vikings – his sons had given him the nickname “Hagar the Terrible.” (One of them, Chris Browne, took over the strip in 1968.)
The 1st crossword-like puzzles appeared in “The Stockton Bee” in the mid-1790s, and the phrase “cross word puzzle” 1st appeared in the American children’s magazine “Our Young Folks” in 1862. Various similar exercises appeared over the decades, but Arthur Wynne invented the modern format in the 21 December 1913 “New York World.” His word-cross puzzle appeared in the Pulitzer paper’s “Fun” section of its Sunday edition, but due to a type-setting error a few weeks later the term “cross-word” came into use. One of Wynne’s puzzles became the 1st to appear in a British paper, the “Sunday Express” on 2 November 1924. Richard L. Simon & M. Lincoln Schuster, who were launching a publishing company but had no manuscripts, published the 1st book of crossword puzzles in 1924 as their 1st book; with 258 volumes, “The Cross Word Puzzle Book” became the world’s longest continuously-published book series. The next year the New York Public Library complained about “the latest craze to strike libraries” and promised to “protect its legitimate readers” who were being deprived of access to dictionaries and encyclopedias by “the puzzle ‘fans’.” In 1924 “The New York Times” criticized it as a "sinful waste in the utterly futile finding of words the letters of which will fit into a prearranged pattern, more or less complex. This is not a game at all, and it hardly can be called a sport... [solvers] get nothing out of it except a primitive form of mental exercise, and success or failure in any given attempt is equally irrelevant to mental development.” (The paper finally started publishing daily crosswords in 1942, under the editorship of Margaret Farrar, who had been Wynne’s assistant at the “World” in 1921, and had compiled the Simon & Schuster book in 1924; when she died in 1984 she was working on Simon & Schuster’s 134th volume of crossword books.)
Cartoonist Martin Naydel created “The Terrific Whatzit,” a superfast turtle who was DC’s 1st funny animal superhero, in “Funny Stuff” in 1944; his costume resembled that of the Flash, whom Naydel also frequently drew for “All-Flash,” and in 1946 he introduced the Turtle as a Flash foe who relied on slow, deliberate planning and tricks of slowness. In 1954, however, he introduced “Scramble,” a word puzzle with a clue, an illustrative drawing, and a set of words, all of which have their letters scrambled; the name was soon changed to “Jumble” and became one of the most popular puzzles in the world. The Paris daily Le Siècle ("The Age") introduced grid-number puzzles on 19 November 1892; the format was modified by the rival “La France” on 6 July 1895, and the modern sudoku was almost in place. However, these formats disappeared by World War I. Howard Garns, a 74-year-old retired architect, revived and modernized the “number place” puzzle for “Dell Pencil Puzzles and Word Games” in 1979. In 1980 Kaji Maki founded Nikoli Co., Ltd., a publisher of games and logic puzzles (he named the company after the racehorse that won the Irish 2,000 Guineas that year). In April 1984 the company introduced the Sūji wa dokushin ni kagiru puzzlein its monthly magazine; “dokushin” means unmarried person in Japanese, and the phrase means “the digits must be single,” and Kaji later abbreviated this as “sudoku.” In 1986, Nikoli introduced 2 innovations: the number of givens was restricted to no more than 32, and puzzles became "symmetrical" (meaning the givens were distributed in rotationally symmetric cells). In 1997, Hong Kong judge Wayne Gould saw a partly completed puzzle in a Japanese bookshop and began developing computer programs to produce unique puzzles rapidly. He introduced the sudoku to “The Times” on 12 November 2004; “The Conway Sun” in New Hampshire introduced a Gould puzzle to Americans in 2004. Beginning on 1 July 2005 Sky One began televising “Sudoku Live” in which 9 celebrity-led teams competed in solving puzzles, and the 1st World Sudoku Championship was held in Lucca, Italia, in March 2006.
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