Monday, May 18, 2009

Salesman Sam

George Swanson (‘Swan’) created Salesman Sam (or $alesman $am as it appeared in the title bar) while employed by NEA syndicate and the first strip was published on Sept 24 1921. Salesman Sam appeared both as a daily and a Sunday. Sam was in and out of the employ of J. Guzzlem (‘Guzz’) and was often on the road promoting, selling, and campaigning in wild continuities that took him from the Wild West to the North Pole. He originated the surrealistic screwball style that Bill Holman was to use to good effect on Smoky Stover. Panels were stuffed with goofy advertising signs, teeny men peering around corners in living rooms, kitty kats in trees, and katfish in shop windows.

When Swanson moved on to Editors Feature Service in July 1927 a copyright dispute over the title Salesman Sam led to a change of name, characters, and eventually the appearance of his creations. The new strip was titled High-Pressure Pete and began July 2 1927. C. D. Small took over the original Salesman Sam sticking to the style originating with Swan until it was discontinued on Small’s death around Sept 21 1936.

Swanson began another strip in 1943, Dad’s Family which was to be re-titled The Flop Family. He died in January 1982.

The first Salesman Sam, September 24, 1921

C. D. Small was born in Philadelphia and began comic sketching at age thirteen. He sold his first cartoon fresh out of high school. Small took a comic art course, worked at odd jobs in the advertising field, and contributed cartoons to Life and Judge. Next up was a stint as a sports cartoonist for a New York newspaper before being tagged by NEA to take over Salesman Sam in July 1927. He died in 1936 and Salesman Sam was discontinued.

Some Swan dailies HERE. A large amount of Small dailies can be viewed HERE. High Pressure Pete HERE.

Kats by C. D. Small


  1. This is very funny stuff. The connection to Holman--whose crazy humor I have always enjoyed--is strong, all the way down to the way he drew cats. It'd be fun to see some of this work reprinted in book form.

  2. I am Eliza Kathryn Small McCombs. I am one of three granddaughters of C. D. Small. Small' son (my dad) was not named Charles, but Chase Small (3/27/19 - 4/29/88).
    If anyone has more information regarding C. D. Small, please respond to this post.
    Thank you.