Andy Panda was the biggest star in the Lantz studio in the late 30s and early 40’s. Throughout Lantz’s early merchandise and promotions, Andy was promoted as Lantz’s greatest personality, and he was indeed a popular character. The character got as far as generating his own radio show pilot. To celebrate the new year, I thought it would be worth spending our day off perusing the early comic book exploits of this cartoon favorite.
When Andy debuted, his first comics appeared in Crackajack Funnies issue 39-40 (sample pages pictured below). However, the character became interesting once the Andy Panda comics moved to The Funnies (which would eventually evolve into Walter Lantz’s New Funnies several years later). Andy Panda also appeared in an issue of the Big Little Book All Picture Comics series. In the book, Andy Panda essentially stars in a Terry & the Pirates knock-off. It seems crazy but it actually worked! You can read many of the issues at comicbookplus.com where Andy appears in issues 61-63 of The Funnies.
Moving from Crackajack Funnies to The Funnies, Andy also switched from gag cartoon storylines to adventure stories. In the comics, Andy plays an adventurous movie star in the early issues with his two new friends Marion and her brother Tommy, who are saving him from villainous hunters who hope to be famous by trapping a talking panda. The three faced head hunters, plane crashes, and other dangerous and incredibly dramatic obstacles very unlike anything that would ever be seen in Walter Lantz cartoons in theaters with the character. In the first issue of New Funnies, Rajah the Tiger essentially comes Andy’s newest sidekick but would be later replaced by Charlie Chicken when Andy’s adventure storyline was dropped. Many of the early comics were done by George Kerr and L. Bing.
Below – from Crackajack Funnies #39 (Sept. 1941)
Below – from Crackajack Funnies #40 (Oct. 1941)
Below from Andy Panda Comics “The Funnies” issue 61 (Starting at page 24) November 1941
Below from Andy Panda Comics “The Funnies” issue 62 (Starting at page 40) December 1941
Below from Andy Panda Comics “The Funnies” issue 63 (starting at page 35) March 1942
Thanks to comicbookplus.com who has many of the scans that I shared.