Women’s History Month 2012: Edwina Dumm

13 Mar

Today we honor and celebrate the first full-time female editorial cartoonist, Edwina Dumm. Born in Ohio in 1893, Frances Edwina Dumm’s father was an actor turned newspaperman, inspiring her interest in publishing. After completing high school in 1911, she pursued a correspondence course from the Landon School of Illustration and Cartooning. Her skill and fame became such that the school featured her in its later advertisements.

She drew editorial cartoons for the Columbus Daily Monitor from its first edition (August 7, 1915) until the paper folded (July 1917). Her Spot-Light Sketches was a full-page feature of editorial cartoons, and some of these promoted women’s issue and was influential in the suffrage movement. Dumm also drew The Meanderings of Minnie, a semi-autobiographical strip about a tomboy and her dog. Moving to New York City, she continued her art studies at the Art Students League and created Cap Stubbs and Tippie, syndicated by the George Matthew Adams Service. When the George Matthew Adams Service went out of business in the 1940s, Dumm’s strip was picked up by King Features Syndicate. Dumm continued to write and draw Tippie until her 1966 retirement (which brought the strip to an end).

Dumm worked very fast, reputedly penciling a daily strip in an hour. In the late 1940s, she drew the covers for sheet music by her roommate, Helen Slater, who did both music and lyrics. During the 1940s, she also contributed features to the Wonder Woman comic book. She was a recipient of the National Cartoonists Society Gold Key Award in 1978. After she retired from her comic strip, she remained active with watercolor paintings, photography and helping the elderly at her New York City apartment building when she was well into her eighties. She died in Manhattan in 1990.

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