Bill Holman was a world famous family cartoonist, creator of the classic cartoon comics, Smokey Stover, Spooky the Cat, not to mention Nuts and Jolts enjoyed by millions of adults and children.

As my Uncle Bill used to say, “I admire the courageous work the firemen do and hoped to become one of them.”
William (Bill) Holman first saw the light of day when he was born on March 22, 1903 in Crawfordsville, Indiana. His family then moved to Nappanee, Indiana where they lived until he was 15, eventually settling in Chicago. Like most boys, he wanted to be a fireman and drive a big red hook and ladder fire wagon. He quickly changed his mind when he discovered that the big galloping fire horses didn’t harness themselves. While working part-time at the local five and 10 cent store he developed an interest in drawing.
Bill graduated from high school at 16, and then attended the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts. After school he was an office boy at the Tribune, before long he was working as a cartoonist in the art department.
In 1924, when he was only 21 years old, my uncle moved to New York to spend seven great years as staff artist for the Herald Tribune. For the next seven years Bill freelanced his comic art. His cartoons appeared in many of the popular magazines of the time.

Bill’s most popular creation was a fireman called Smokey Stover and his zany boss Chief Cash U Nutt. They drove to fires in their two-wheel fire truck known as the Foo Mobile. What’s Foo? My uncle found this word engraved on the bottom of a jade statue in San Francisco’s China town. The word Foo means Good-Luck. Another phrase that was popular and used by uncle Bill was Notary Sojac which in Gaelic means Merry Christmas and 1506 Nix Nix, which was the hotel room number of a fellow daily news cartoonist Al Posen.

"Sorry chief - but I didn't have time to dress!"
This comic creation led to a long term relation on March 10, 1935 with the New York News-Chicago Tribune syndicate. Smokey’s home life revolved around his wife Cookie, fashioned after his attractive red haired wife Dolores and imaginary son Earl. Their antics were performed in more than 150 of the countries leading newspapers.  
Let us not forget Uncle Bill’s other comic art creation, Spooky the Cat and his perpetually bandaged tail. This comic strip created great interest among pet lovers. Last, but not least, was his single panel pun, (joke) Nuts and Jolts.
This wacky humorous character’s name came from Bill watching an old smoking stove, hence Smokey Stover was born. As a result of the popularity of Smokey Stover, hundreds of thousands of 10 cent “Big Little Books”of their adventures were sold, in addition to comic books and television cartoons. Many other fun items emerged: watches, toys and various novelties.
Bill was a great patriot. He made innumerable trips abroad for the U.S.O. to entertain troops in Europe, South Pacific, Japan and Korea and in the veteran’s hospitals. He was also a big promoter of U.S. Savings Bonds. He loved children and was involved in numerous children’s charities.
Bill always worked hard at his cartooning artistry. Putting in 12 hour days in his New York Studio, surrounded by old newspapers and souvenirs he would say, “My files are in piles”. Ironically, his studio was located next to a firehouse.
My uncle was one of the co-founders of the National Cartoonists Society and went on to become president in 1961 and 1962. He continued his close association with the society even after his retirement in 1973, until his passing in 1987. He is greatly missed.


In honor of my Uncle Bill’s talent and wit I will continue to share his works and humor with a new generation. When I was seven he draw this cartoon as a birthday gift for me. I remember so many funny sayings and jokes he constantly shared with me and later on with my wife and children as his wife, our Aunt Dolores, who we now care for, looked on with love and admiration. I know my uncle now watches and smiles from above, and I remember him saying,“Hop in Everyone and I’ll Drive You All Around the Block”.

Bill Holman in Froth Magazine

Worcester Telegram features Smokey

Smokey introduced by the Chicago Tribune

Smokey joins the Comic Brigade

Washington Post article on Bill Holman

John Canemaker covers Bill Holman
Page 1 / Page 2 / Page 3 / Page 4 / Page 5 / Page 6 / Page 7

Tribute by the Tribune

A short history of Bill Holman

Bill and the Foomobile

Bill's voices his opinion on violence in comics

Meet Bill Holman, by Bert Dale

Seattle Times covers Bill

The Big Little Times Cover Bill's Comic Career
WARNING: A lot of images

Bill Holman at work

Holman at the Detroit Michigan Fire Dept.

Holman meets Boris Karloff and Carol Burnett

Holman and Hedda Hopper

Metro Sunday Comics Party

Cartoonists Society Meeting in Times Sq., NYC

Bill's visit to CBS television studios

The Comics Council Inc.

Dig those socks!

Young Bill Holman

Various Bill Holman shots

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