American newspaper comic strip, created by Milton Caniff in 1943. There's quite a bit of history leading up to the first appearance of this strip, so let's take a trip down Memory Lane...

First, you've got Milt Caniff, who was a major patriot and a big booster of the military but, because of a childhood illness that weakened his lungs, he wasn't allowed to enlist during World War II. Wanting to contribute to the war effort, he came up with the idea of donating a weekly version of "Terry and the Pirates", his astoundingly popular comic strip, to military newspapers.

Military officials loved the idea, but legally, the military and camp papers weren't allowed to accept material from civilians. So a new syndicate, the Camp Newspaper Service, was established specifically to accept material from civilians. Caniff began sending the new weekly strips of "Terry and the Pirates" to the military papers in October of 1942, and the series was met with enthusiasm from the boys over there. Terry himself didn't appear in the strip--the star was Burma, a gorgeous, sly blonde. Gee, a comic strip about a gorgeous, sly blonde earning a bunch of loyal fans among lonely soldiers fighting far from home--who'da thunk it?

But only three months after the strip started, the Chicago Tribune Syndicate got some complaints from its paying members and ordered Caniff to quit the military-only strip, which he did in January of 1943. Soon, however, syndicate chief Joseph M. Patterson heard about the situation when he started getting tons of protesting calls and letters from the editors of the small camp newspapers. Patterson, who'd fought in World War I, called Caniff in and told him he could start the strip up again, though he asked him to change the name of the strip and to get rid of Burma.

When the strip reappeared later that month, it was called "Male Call" and starred a gorgeous, more innocent brunette named Miss Lace, who called everyone she met "General". The first edition of the new strip started with the soldiers mourning the sudden departure back to the states of Burma, though she was never mentioned by name. Lace quickly made her appearance, telling the soldiers that Burma was an old friend and had asked her to come visiting. The only other recurring character was a minor player called PFC J. Snafroid McGoolty.

Lace's adventures covered all aspects of military life, and they tended to be a bit risqué--again, being written for a bunch of lonely, horny soldiers, who saw that coming? The strip got a few complaints from uptight prudes, but the complaints were far drowned out by the overwhelmingly positive response from everyone else.

"Male Call" may have been the most syndicated comic strip in history--it appeared in about 3,000 camp newspapers. And Lace may have been the first comic strip character to appear on television; in July of 1945, Caniff was interviewed on WNBT in New York City. Appearing with him was Miss Lace herself, in the guise of model Dorothy Partington.

"Male Call" made its last appearance on March 3, 1946.

Research from http://www.toonopedia.com/malecall.htm

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