H.H. Knerr: Original Art


Original black and white comic strip art is generally produced on heavy "art stock" paper using pen and ink.  The original art is usually somewhat larger than the size that will appear in the newspaper.  It is easier for the artist to work in a larger size, keeping in mind that whatever detail is included will be affected by its ultimate reduction.

If the screen resolution of a 15" monitor is set to 800 x 600, the black and white image shown here is approximately an actual size reproduction of the final panel for Knerr's "Dinglehoofer und his Dog" for Sunday, June 4, 1939.  The color image is an actual size reproduction of that same panel (fully colored by the printer) as it appeared in the Sunday comic pages.

[Yes, I know, such panels would be much smaller in today's comic sections.]

Original comic strip art is seldom found in really top condition.  Such drawings were intended for one purpose only--to serve as a master copy for newspaper reproduction.  As a result, the art may have blue pencil instructions written on the face of it, painted over areas of the lettering where some of the words have been changed or corrected, even the fingerprints of those who have handled the art.

In addition, photocopies of certain "stock" images are quite commonly pasted over an area of the original drawing paper.  Two examples may be seen here.

  • The first panel of this (partially shown) Katzenjammer Kids original contains a paste-on photocopy.  Since this "title panel" was the same each week, the artist was not expected to draw it over and over again.  With the passage of time, the paste usually bleeds through the paper, producing discoloration of the sort seen here.

  • The Dinglehoofer panel shown at the top of the page includes a little typeset copyright notice pasted on the bottom of the panel.


This image (shown at a reduced size) is an excellent example of a specialty drawing.  It was produced by Knerr in 1948, the year before his death, for the bicentennial of Washington and Lee University.  This lovely original drawing includes all of the principal cast members of Knerr's Katzenjammer Kids and is, to the best of my knowledge, still in existence.

The above is an example of a special little drawing, together with an inscription to a fan, that Knerr added to the border of an original "Dinglehoofer" page.  This image is shown at 50% of its true size.


It should be emphasized that when we speak of "original" comic strip art, we are speaking of one-of-a-kind items.  The color pages from the Sunday comics section also have value as collectibles, but these can generally be bought for relatively low prices--in the range of $3.00 to $10.00 each.  The original black and white, pen and ink drawings, when they are available, have been selling in the range of $400 to $1200 for Knerr "Katzenjammer Kids" pages and roughly one-third that amount for originals of "Dinglehoofer und his Dog."  As with all other collectibles, the exact value often depends on age, condition, and specific desirability of the piece.

If you have a Knerr original that you would like to sell, please contact me by e-mail.

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This page created and maintained by Vebmeister Jim Lowe
First appearance: October 23, 1997
Last updated: May 18, 1998

© 1997 and 1998 by James R. Lowe, who reserves all rights to the content of this page not successfully claimed by others.