Fisher, Bud

Harry Conway "Bud" Fisher (April 3, 1885 – September 7, 1954) was an American cartoonist who created the first successful daily comic strip in the United States - "Mutt and Jeff".Born in Chicago, Illinois, Fisher studied at the University of Chicago then went to work in San Francisco as a journalist and sketch artist in the sports department of the San Francisco Chronicle. In late-1907, he introduced a comic strip character he called "Mr. A. Mutt" (the initial stood for Augustus) that became instantly popular with the paper's readers. In March 1908, Fisher added a second character he named "Jeff," a diminutive man, the opposite of the tall and skinny Mutt. The "Mutt and Jeff" comic strip gained such popularity that Fisher, who was able to claim copyright to the characters, received an offer to produce it for the San Francisco Examiner owned by William Randolph Hearst. The move to the Hearst Corporation chain exposed the comic strip to a multitude of new audiences through its numerous papers across the United States. In 1911, Nestor Studios of New Jersey acquired the right to make "Mutt and Jeff" short film comedies after which Fisher decided he could make more money controlling film production himself. As a result, in 1913, he created the "Bud Fisher Film Corporation" and signed a deal with American Pathé. They made thirty-six "Mutt and Jeff" short comedies in 1913 but for more than two years production ceased when Fisher's copyright claim was challenged. Once the courts upheld Fishers copyright claim, the comic strip was syndicated nationwide and between 1916 and 1926, his film production company created another two hundred and seventy-seven "Mutt and Jeff" film productions. On these film projects, Fisher is almost exclusively credited as the writer, animator, and director, however, the majority of the animation work was actually done by animators Raoul Barré and Charles Bowers. "Mutt and Jeff" was also published in comic book form and the income from its multiple uses made Bud Fisher a very wealthy man. In 1932, Fisher authorized Al Smith to produce the strip under his supervision. When Fisher died in 1954, Smith started signing his own name and continued to draw the cartoons until 1980 when George Breisacher took over for its final two years.