Read this comic telling the strange, sad story of Wilkes-Barre cartoonist Ham Fisher on his 115th birthday
Born on Sept. 24, 1900 (though some records say 1901), Hammond Edward Fisher – better known simply as Ham Fisher – was a cartoonist from Wilkes-Barre famous for creating the comic strip “Joe Palooka.” While this classic comic of the fictional heavyweight boxing champ isn’t as well-known today, it was huge in the 1930s all the way through the 1950s.
Fisher worked for the Wilkes-Barre Record before moving to New York City to pursue his dream of being a cartoonist, eventually succeeding and becoming a millionaire. A longtime feud with “Li’l Abner” creator Al Capp and mounting health issues led to a tragic capitalist downfall, however, that ended in suicide at the age of 55.
His fascinating story is chronicled in “The Incredibly Strange Story of Ham Fisher,” a three-page biographical comic book by another Wilkes-Barre artist, Kevin Dougherty (known locally as the former manager of Cafe Metro).
In honor of Fisher’s 115th birthday, NEPA Scene has reposted the comic below with Dougherty’s permission. Unfortunately, the full-color version may be lost, but the story is just as interesting and well-told in black and white.