Creator of ‘Boots’ Is Dead;
Started Comic Strip in 1924
By ERNEST LYNN
(NEA Service, Inc.)
A great career in the world of comic strips came to a close with the death Aug. 30 in Clearwater, Fla., of Edgar E. Martin.
More than 36 years ago a handsome, slender, blond young man brought to the nation’s newspapers the girl who was to become known as the “Sweetheart of the Comics.” She was called “Boots,” star character of the daily comic strip “Boots and Her Buddies” and the Sunday page “Boots.” The man was Edgar Martin, nicknamed “Abe” by his friends.
At the time of his death, Boots was running in nearly 700 daily and Sunday newspapers, and was followed every day by millions of readers. She exerted a profound influence on women’s fashions.
Martin was born in Indianapolis, Ind., July 6, 1898. Early in his boyhood his family moved to Nashville, Tenn., and then to Monmouth, Ill., where his father was a professor at Monmouth College.
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As a freshman Martin used to draw grasshoppers, lizards and frogs in his father’s biology classes. He quit in his junior year to enter the Academy of Fine Arts in Chicago. He joined Newspaper Enterprise Association in 1921.
At first he drew several comics with varying success. When NEA told him it wanted a girl strip he swung into action and, on February 18, 1924, he came up with the strip that was to bring him fame.
Originally Martin featured four girls in the strip, but soon two of them were dropped. Cora, a school teacher, remained true to type, while Boots was developed into a glamour girl.
Dressing Boots in the latest fashions became a hobby, with him. He attended style shows, read all the fashion magazines, and developed a style sense that the designers of feminine finery often copied. When he gave Boots a new haircut in 1926 and called it the “Boots Bob,” it was a nationwide “click” and was endorsed by leading hairdressers in New York and other cities.
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When Cora, with whom Boots had been living, was married to Prof. Stephen Tutt in 1927, Boots moved in with them. In early days Martin’s comic had its greatest following among high school and college students. They loved his glamour girl, delighted in her numerous romances.
Martin introduced a new character in 1927, popular Pug, who grew up to be one of the best-liked teen-agers in the comics. Boots, the much sought-after belle, remained in single blessedness until readers began demanding wedding bells. In 1945 Martin married her to a Texan named Rodney Ruggles and the strip became a family strip. A son was born in 1946, on the Fourth of July. Once more Boots’ great army of followers showed their interest by besieging Martin with suggestions for a name for the baby. David won by a big vote. Pug became an established member of Boots’ family when her father’s yacht was lost at sea with all on board.
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Nearly every successful comic artist has one or more assistants. Martin was unusual in that he insisted on drawing and writing his strip himself. He finally turned the Sunday paper over to an assistant, but the daily was another matter. He felt so close to the numerous characters, all highly individualized, that he had to do the job himself. Much of Martin’s own character was expressed in the strip, especially in the person of Boots’ brother Billy, who disappeared from the strip some years ago.
Many people said Edgar Martin really was portraying himself in the character of Billy. Martin never admitted this, but he and Billy did have the same fine courtesy and courtly manners. Both were always every inch the gentleman.
Martin lived in Cleveland, headquarters for NEA, for many years. He and his family moved to Clearwater about 20 years ago. He is survived by his widow, Margery, three married daughters and five grandchildren.
Ironwood Daily Globe (Ironwood, Michigan) Sep 6, 1960
‘Boots’ Ends Comic Strip Career in Tribune Today
One of the nation’s great comic strips is leaving the daily entertainment scene today.
Edgar E. Martin, creator of “Boots and Her Buddies,” died Aug. 30. His daily strip comes to an end with the conclusion of the current sequence on today’s comic page.
There is symbolism in the falling leaf in the final picture, and in the caption, “The Curtain Falls.” For the curtain has fallen on a daily drama which has entertained the American public for more than 36 years.
Replacing “Boots” in The Tribune will be “The Story of Martha Wayne,” beginning on Monday.
This is a return engagement for this true-to-life narrative, which made a brief appearance in this newspaper several years ago.
Although some Sunday comic pages will continue to carry “Boots” as drawn by Lester Carroll, Martin’s assistant, the Newspaper Enterprise Assn. which syndicates the strip has decided against having the daily version carried on by another artist.
Wisconsin Rapids Daily Tribune (Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin) Oct 15, 1960
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Wisconsin Rapids Tribune (Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin) Oct 15, 1960