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The Original Muncie Cartoonist

When we think of Muncie, cartoons, and cartoonists, the first thought is usually of Jim Davis and Garfield. The second thought may be of T.K. Ryan and his comic “Tumbleweeds.” But before these two cartoonists, there was the original Muncie cartoonist, Chic Jackson.

Charles Bacon (Chic) Jackson was born in Muncie on December 31, 1876. Jackson, like most kids, started drawing at an early age. Unlike most, however, he continued for the rest of his life. After dropping out of high school, he took jobs in a steel mill, shoe factory, grocery, printing office, bolt factory and malleable iron foundry, before finally landing the position of illustrator on the Muncie News.

In 1906, Jackson spent a term at the Chicago Art Institute. A year later, he took a job with the Indianapolis Star as a layout artist and illustrator. Impressed with his work, the publishers of the paper asked him to create a comic strip. Roger Bean debuted on April 22, 1913.

Chic Jackson was an innovator. He was one of the first cartoonists to base his strip on a family. He was also the first to create a comic strip where the characters aged. For example, the foundling (Woodrow Wilson Bean) who was left on the Bean’s doorstep on December 25, 1914, was a freshman in college when the strip came to an abrupt end in 1934.

Jackson wanted to depict a typical middle-class Hoosier family. He believed that there were so many naturally humorous events in people’s everyday lives that he didn’t have to come up with contrived plots to create comical situations.

For 20 years, the comic strip built an extremely loyal following in Indiana and other parts of the country where it was syndicated. The comic strip came to an end when Jackson died on June 3, 1934.