Ozark Ike

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Ray Gotto's Ozark Ike (December 21, 1947)

Ozark Ike was a newspaper comic strip about dumb but likable Ozark Ike McBatt, a youth from a rural area in the mountains. The strip was created by Rufus A. ("Ray") Gotto while he was serving in the Navy during World War II in Washington, D.C. as an illustrator for Navy instruction manuals.

Characters and story

Strong-but-dumb Ike McBatt is from a hillbilly family living in the small backwoods community of Wildweed Run (pop. 49). Ozark Ike is an all-around athlete, playing baseball, football and basketball. Between seasons, he enters the boxing ring. The characters and the baseball park settings are apparently inspired by Ring Lardner's well-known baseball short story "Alibi Ike" (1915), filmed in 1935 as the comedy Alibi Ike, starring Joe E. Brown in the title role and Olivia de Havilland in her film debut.

Ozark Ike's girlfriend is Dinah Fatfield, whose family has been involved in a feud with the McBatt clan for several generations. As evident in the names, this background situation of the strip was inspired by the Hatfield-McCoy feud.

Gotto presented Ozark Ike to promoter Stephen Slesinger, who also managed Red Ryder, King of the Royal Mounted and the merchandising of Winnie-the-Pooh. Slesinger sold the cartoon to King Features Syndicate, and it debuted November 12, 1945. Gotto's assistant on the strip was Fred Rhoads. Gotto left in 1954, but the strip continued until 1959 under King Features cartoonists Bill Lignante and George Olesen. Lignante was better known as one of the leading courtroom artists for network television.

Baseball nicknames

"Ozark Ike" was the nickname of two major league baseball players, Ralph Kiner and Gus Zernial.

External links