A pioneer in the comics field, F.M. Howarth is a shining star among early comic notables. A collection of his work for Puck magazine, "Funny Folks" set the standard for turn-of-the-century comic book production with a hardcover, 16"x12" format. The modern mind staggers at the thought of a time when comic books were actually books, and actually comic!
Lulu and Leander captures a unique period in newspaper comics, where the forms and styles of the comic strip were still being standardized. Strip purists may even look askew at Lulu and Leander, as it doesn't hew to the word balloon style that was being moved towards. I can almost imagine an old-school humorist like Howarth snorting at the new-fangled trends in comic art, insisting that captioned pictures are king, and always would be.
This is a wonderful strip, with some of the cleanest line work I've ever seen. One could certainly make the complaint that Howarth tends to have two figures he draws, a man and a woman, given differing accoutrements to lend characterization. And it is true that most everyone in the strip looks like Leander, with different clothing and tonsorial styles. But to my eye, the basic figure is so appealing that I find it irresistible. Add to this mastery of craft a recurring storyline of the frustrations of courtship, and a classic is beheld.
By F.M. Howarth