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    Hammond Edward Fisher - 'Ham Fisher'
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Hammond Edward Fisher had already been a soldier, a small-town newspaper editor and a politician by the time he created Joe Palooka in 1920. Interested in cartooning since he was a child, Fisher had been inspired by a kind, simple minded boxer he had met at a local watering hole in his home town of Wilkes-Barre. Although at the time boxing had been attacked constantly in newspaper editorials, Fisher developed a kindly, simple boxer with straight morals and a value for fair play. Add a likeable supporting cast of characters, such as Joe's manager Knobby Walsh and his girlfriend Anne Howe, an endless brigade of colourful competors against who Joe could defend his heavyweight champion title, and Fisher knew that he had a hit on his hands. The only problem Fisher had was convincing a newspaper to purchase the strip. Sending it around to different papers proved to be futile. No papers were the least bit interested in tales of a kindly boxing champ; however, Ham Fisher was a strong willed individual with a never say fail attitude.

In 1927, Ham Fisher relocated to New York City to try his hand at the newspaper business there. Hired by the advertising department at the New York Daily, Fisher began his New York career selling features to other newspapers across the country. His main interest, of course, was comics. With samples under his arm, Fisher traveled across America to major newspapers in attempts to sell comic strips. His ambitious nature was proven when, in 1928, Fisher set a syndicate record when the long running comic strip "Show Girl" appeared in thirty papers within forty days. As a result, Fisher's bosses wanted to make him sales manager, but Fisher still had ambitions for Joe Palooka. Eight years after the strip was created, as a result of his new found reputation in the newspaper industry, Fisher managed to get Joe Palooka into twenty newspapers within three weeks, including the national New York Mirror. Joe Palooka became a instant hit with readers and soon the strip was even surpassing the comic page in other various forms of media. In fact, Joe Palooka was the first comic ever to be transferred to the silver screen. In 1934 Joe Palooka was featured as one of the early sound pictures starring Stuart Erwin as Joe and legendary entertainer Jimmy Durante as Knobby. Soon Ham Fisher became one of the first millionaire cartoonists as a result of various licenses.

Not being a particularly adept writer or cartoonist himself, Fisher hired (among others) Al Capp, later famed as the writer-cartoonist of Li'l Abner. Fisher was infamous for the low wages he paid his employees, and when Capp later complained, Fisher falsely accused Capp of using obscenities in Li'l Abner. Fisher fabricated his own "examples" in an attempt to make his case. Owing in part to the fact that Capp was able to refute the accusation by simply showing the actual printed strips, Fisher lost and was dismissed from the National Cartoonists Society.

On September 7, 1955, Fisher left several notes about health issues he was having and committed suicide in his studio in New York.

Date of Birth: September 24th, 1900
Birthplace: Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, USA
Date of death: December 27th, 1955

View a chronological listing of this creator's work

Big Shot (1940)
Joe Palooka (1945)
Nemo: The Classic Comics Library (1983)
New York Sunday Mirror Comic Section (1949)
War Victory Comics (1942)



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