A Losing Record

Posted by on May 26th, 2010 at 9:52 PM

The Born Loser celebrated its 45th year on May 15 even though it was May 10 that the strip debuted in 1965. Art Sansom, the originator of the feature, had been producing artwork and sometimes realistically rendered comic strips for NEA since joining the syndicate staff as an illustrator in 1945. After twenty years drawing others’ creations, he concocted his own strip about hapless Brutus Thornapple, the loser who was apparently born to arrive missing whenever the train left the station. Art died July 4, 1991, and the strip has been continued since then by his son, Chip, who was merely 14 when his father invented Brutus and his wife Gladys, his Scrooge-like boss Rancid Veeblefester, the wonderfully named panhandler Wastrel P. Gravesite, and numerous others, all of whom fare better than Brutus on a day-to-day basis.

Chip had helped his father for years. He first tried the business world after graduating from Case Western Reserve University with an applicable degree in about 1973, but after four or five years, he said, “I discovered I couldn’t stand it. At the time, my father was looking for an assistant.”

These days, Brutus and his ensemble cast circulate to more than 1,300 newspapers in 35 countries, and Chip signs the strip with both his name and his father’s.

“I am very happy that The Born Loser is still as appealing to readers, new and old, as it was when it first appeared 45 years ago,” Chip said in the syndicate press release. “It is a tribute to the great characters my dad created and his universal and timeless premise that Brutus Thornapple is an everyman, taking the fall for the rest of us in the trials and tribulations we face everyday.”

The strip continues to be a family affair with Chip’s wife, Brooke, assisting him in much the same way as when he started working for his father. Daughters Jacqueline and Isabel are a constant source of material for the strip. Appropriately, Chip now works in his father’s old studio in the Sansom family home in Lakewood, Ohio.

Here’s the anniversary strip (in color) with a sample of the strip for 1969, when Art Sansom was still doing it solo, the drawings rendered in a rather more languid manner than later on. The 1969 strip is a nifty example of deploying the visual resources of the medium for a gag, something it did rather frequently in those early years.

Be Sociable, Share!

Comments are closed.