Fay Barbara King (March 1889 - ????) was an American illustrator, journalist, and cartoonist who worked for newspapers and magazines in the early twentieth century. Her work represents a very early example of autobiographical comics.

Life & Career Edit

Fay King was born in Seattle, Washington in March 1889, to John and Ella King. She was raised in Portland, Oregon, and went to college at Seattle University. The young Fay King was adventurous, being one of the first women in the Portland Area to own an automobile,[1] and in 1912 had announced plans for a balloon ascension with noted early parachutist Tiny Broadwick, before the plan was nixed by her parents, according to an article in the Oregonian.[1]

King's father had been an employee at a Turkish bath, as well a trainer of athletes, and she seems to have had a deep affinity for sport. King married boxer Oscar "Battling" Nelson in 1913 in the Hegewisch neighborhood of Chicago.[2] Their divorce in 1916 was widely covered by the press.[3][4][5]

King's comics are recalled as an early example of autobiographical comics, within the genre of newspaper cartooning. She frequently depicted herself in her comics, using a spindly, gangly caricature that bore a strong resemblance to the character of Olive Oyl, who would later be created by E.C. Segar for his Thimble Theater strip. In addition to her autobiographical reporting, she is known to have attempted two strips, both of which ran in the New York Mirror: Mazie, which ran briefly in 1924, and Girls Will Be Girls, which ran between 1924 and 1925.[6]

By 1935, she was living in The Commodore Hotel in New York City, and in 1940 she was still working as a newspaper cartoonist.[7]

Further readingEdit

  • Nell Brinkley and the New Woman in the Early 20th Century, by Trina Robbins

External LinksEdit


  1. "Fay King Not To Soar", The Oregonian, August 12, 1911
  2. "Battling Nelson Married", New York Times, 24 Jan 1913.
  3. "Wife Platonic, 'Bat' Testifies; Wins a Divorce", Chicago Daily Tribune, 2 Mar 1916.
  4. "Battling Nelson Granted Divorce From Fay King", Boston Daily Globe, 8 Mar 1916.
  5. "Would Sue Nelson: Father of Battler's Wife Says She Will Institute Divorce Proceedings", Washington Post, 1 Mar 1913.
  6. Allan, Holtz. American newspaper comics: an encyclopedic reference guide, The University of Michigan Press
  7. 1940 US Census record: 1940 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2012.
This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia (view authors).