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Where did that phrase come from - See you in the funny paper
Stan St. Clair

One of my favorite parts of this, or any newspaper, since my childhood, has been the comic section. I guess it’s largely because it helps me get my mind off the negative and on a relaxed note by which I may even be able to smile and occasionally, get a chuckle.

Recently, while reading a Wednesday Southern Standard comic page, I noticed the first three strips had clichés or metaphors. Arlo and Janis used “a place for everything and everything in its place.” “Hot spot” appeared in Frank & Ernest, and The Grizzwells utilized “emotional roller coaster.”

Like the fact to which I alluded last week about a lot of idioms originating or being popularized in the military, many also rose to common use in the comics. “Keeping up with the Jones” was inspired by a comic strip by that name by Arthur “Pop” Mohammed published in the New York Globe in 1913. Though it had been coined in a literal sense in 1783, figurative use was started in Little Orphan Annie by Harold Gray in 1933. 

And the list goes on. Don’t even get me started on the phrases coined by American cartoonist Thomas A. “Tad” Dorgan (1877-1929) right now!

“See you in the funny paper” was once an off way of saying goodbye, particularly from the 1920s through the end of World War II, but many kept using it longer. It was meant in the best light, and indicated that people’s lives took quirky turns like characters in the comics. We each could be the subject of our own comic strip. 

“Funny paper” was used for comics since the latter part of the 19th century. In Harper’s Weekly, Sept. 19, 1857, we find this, near some comical drawings:

“Moreover, a man who expends 4 cents for a copy of a funny paper wastes an amount of money which, if judiciously expended, would provide him with a ... glass of Lager Beer …”

The earliest example of the actual phrase is from the August, 1920 edition of Commercial Telegraph’s Journal:

“So long, boys, see you in the funny paper.” J.N. HANNA

So long for now. See you in the funny paper!


If you would like to know the origin of a favorite expression, text the author at 931-212-3303 or email him at stan@stclair.net.