Clarence ‘Otis’ Dooley
was born in Kickapoo, Illinois in 1945. Known as Otis to all after a resemblance to his Grandpa Otis (who ran the Tiny Tracks miniature railroad), Dooley showed a talent for drawing from a young age.
He received top marks in several school-sponsored art contests, and once turned in a self-made 24-page comic book on the life of Benjamin Franklin in lieu of a written report for an assignment. (Although his teacher was very impressed with his artistic skill and creativity, he lost points for making up whole periods of Franklin’s life.)
He studied at Shimer College (Home of the Flaming Smelts) where he drew political cartoons for several student publications. After college, Dooley served in the military as part of the then-classified 22nd Division Caricature Corps. Much of his work done for the military has yet to be released under the Freedom of Information Act.
Discharged in 1971, Dooley worked as a commercial artist, providing illustrations for catalogs and advertisements, while continuing his cartooning on the side. When Frank and His Friend was accepted for syndication in 1975, Dooley quit his job to work on the strip full time.
Since Dooley’s untimely death in 1984, his family has (so far) chosen not to have anyone else continue the characters. However, though Frank and His Friend was published for only nine years, it has continued to inspire artists. From Arthur Bloomer’s Rumpus Room Rascals to the tow-headed underdog of Raining Cats and Hamsters, most of our favorite characters of the last twenty years owe something to the influence of Frank and His Friend.