Before they were famous: Clarence ‘Otis’ Dooley

Curio & Co. looks at the career of classic newspaper comic creator Clarence 'Otis' Dooley before he made it big. Curio and co. 

What do Cudworth-Hooper and Frank and His Friend have in common? Hog oilers.

It can be hard for a comic artist to get started without a name that newspapers recognize or a following to convince a syndicate to take on a strip. Most artists have to take on commercial work to pay the bills until their ship finally sails in.

For Clarence ‘Otis’ Dooley, creator of Frank and His Friend, this meant catalog illustrations. Before getting his big break, Dooley worked for a number of years illustrating hog oilers for Cudworth-Hooper’s successful line of agricultural and industrial equipment. While not exactly a comedy training ground (though “hog oiler” sounds like a pretty hilarious piece of equipment), working for Cudworth-Hooper allowed Dooley to hone his drafting skills and keep working with his drawing tools.

When Frank and His Friend was picked up for syndication in 1976, Dooley promptly quit his day job and never looked back. And while, according to Dooley scholar Melvin Goodge, Cudworth-Hooper products occasionally showed up in his work, Dooley never bought any Cudworth-Hooper appliances for the family home. “Not once I’ve seen how they’re made,” Dooley once said.