Fontaine Fox's Toonerville Folks
(February 15, 1931)
Toonerville Folks (aka The Toonerville Trolley That Meets All the Trains) was a popular newspaper cartoon feature by Fontaine Fox, which ran from 1908 to 1955. It began in 1908 in the Chicago Post, and by 1913, it was syndicated nationally by the Wheeler Syndicate. From the 1930s on, it was distributed by the McNaught Syndicate.
Characters and story
The single-panel gag cartoon was a daily look at Toonerville, situated in what are now called the suburbs. Central to the strip was the rickety little trolley called the "Toonerville Trolley that met all the trains," driven in a frenzy by the grizzly old Skipper to meet each commuter train as it arrived in town. A few of the many richly formed characters included the Terrible-Tempered Mr. Bang, the Physically Powerful Katrinka, Little Woo-Woo Wortle, Aunt Eppie Hogg (The Fattest Lady in 3 Counties) and Mickey McGuire, the town bully.
Fox described the inspiration for the cartoon series in an article he wrote for The Saturday Evening Post titled "A Queer Way to Make a Living" (February 11, 1928, page six):
- After years of gestation, the idea for the Toonerville Trolley was born one day up in Westchester County when my wife and I had left New York City to visit Charlie Voight, the cartoonist, in the Pelhams. At the station, we saw a rattletrap of a streetcar, which had as its crew and skipper a wistful old codger with an Airedale beard. He showed as much concern in the performance of his job as you might expect from Captain Hartley when docking the Leviathan.
Between 1920 and 1922, 17 Toonerville silent film comedy adaptations were scripted by Fox for Philadelphia's Betzwood Film Company. These starred Dan Mason as the Skipper with Wilna Hervey as Katrinka. Only seven of those 17 shorts survive today. Four are preserved in the Betzwood Film Archive at Montgomery County Community College, Blue Bell, Pennsylvania. 
Mickey Rooney starred as Mickey McGuire in more than 55 comedy shorts filmed between 1927 and 1936. Rooney (né Joe Yule, Jr.) adopted the professional name Mickey McGuire for a time before finally settling on the last name Rooney. The first of three Van Beuren Studios animated cartoons adapted from the syndicated panels was released by RKO on January 17, 1936. Some of those became available on laserdisc in 1994 and later, on DVD from Image Entertainment in 1999.
Over the years, various Toonerville characters acted as spokesmen for popular products of the day. Skipper, Flem and Katrinka appeared throughout the decades in advertisements for Drano, Kellogg's cereals and Chef Boyardee foods.
Between 1934 and 1940, comic book reprints of the panel appeared in many issues of All-American Comics, Famous Funnies and Popular Comics. In 1995, the strip was one of 20 included in the Comic Strip Classics series of commemorative United States postage stamps.
In 1972, Herb Galewitz and Don Winslow compiled Fontaine Fox's Toonerville Trolley, a 184 page book of daily panels, for Weathervane Books, an imprint of Charles Scribner's Sons.