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John Prentice Cartoons

An inventory of his cartoons at Syracuse University

Finding aid created by: RT
Date: Dec 1968

Biographical History

John Franklin Prentice (1920-1999) was an American illustrator and comic strip artist.

Born Oct 17, 1920 in Whitney, Texas, John Prentice enlisted and served with the U.S. Navy for six years, including at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. After his military service, Prentice attended the Art Institute of Pittsburgh and moved to New York City where he did freelance work in the form of advertising art, magazine covers, comic books and editorial illustrations. Prentice’s comic book work included penciling and inking for Hillman, DC and Features Comics.

In 1956, Rip Kirby comic strip creator Alex Raymond died suddenly following a car accident. Prentice joined King Features Syndicate as Raymond’s replacement while the strip continued to be written by Fred Dickenson. In the 1980s, Prentice took over writing duties for Rip Kirby as well, continuing the strip until its conclusion in the 1990s.

Prentice drew the strip for 43 years, receiving the National Cartoonist Society's (NCS) Story Newspaper Strip Award in 1966, 1967, and 1986. He was a member of the Society of Illustratiors and NCS.

John Prentice died on May 23, 1999 in Connecticut.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The John Prentice Cartoons are divided into three series. The main series, Comic Strips (1956-1966) consists of approximately 2,227 original daily Rip Kirby comic strips and also one original comic strip for Brenda Starr drawn by Dale Messick and dated December 18, 1957. Rip Kirby storylines include "Armored Car", "Mother Fagin", "Dr. Pretty Petal", "Dr. Lee's Formula" and "His Majesty, Sheik of Alibar" (all from 1964).

Original artwork for Rip Kirby measures approximately 6 1/4" x 20" to 6 3/4" x 23". Prentice worked with brush, pen and ink on illustration board. The artwork also contains traces of pencil, blue pencil and zipatone dot screening. Notations appear in the borders in ballpoint pen and pencil; engraver's stamps appear on the back. Several cartoons from January 1965 have copyright stickers from 1964 as do several pieces from January 1966 with stickers from 1965.

Sketches contains undated ink and pencil sketches on parchment paper. Some sketches are on loose paper and there is also a sketchbook.

Promotional Material (1968) is comprised of one item promoting Rip Kirby from King Features Syndicate.

Arrangement of the Collection

Strips are arranged in chronological order.


Access Restrictions:

The majority of our archival and manuscript collections are housed offsite and require advanced notice for retrieval. Researchers are encouraged to contact us in advance concerning the collection material they wish to access for their research.

Use Restrictions:

Written permission must be obtained from SCRC and all relevant rights holders before publishing quotations, excerpts or images from any materials in this collection.

Related Material

Special Collections Research Center has collections of over one hundred cartoonists. Please refer to the SCRC Subject Index for a complete listing.

Subject Headings


Prentice, John Franklin, 1920-

Corporate Bodies

King Features Syndicate.

Associated Titles

Brenda Starr (comic strip)
Rip Kirby (comic strip)


American wit and humor, Pictorial.
Caricatures and cartoons -- United States.
Cartoonists -- United States.
Comic books, strips, etc.
Detective and mystery comic books, strips, etc.

Genres and Forms

Cartoons (humorous images)
Comic strips.



Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

John Prentice Cartoons
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

Gift of John Prentice, 1967-1971.

Table of Contents

Comic Strips


Promotional Material