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Cute, skinny and scantily clad, flappers gave the rough-and-tumble funnies a much-needed sexual charge.

By the 1920s, the slapstick violence that makes early comics so funny and scary had given way to strips about pretty girls. Everyone wanted to draw them. Even unlikely strips like Barney Google found pretexts for including hotties and cuties, most often in the form of flappers, as the mass media of the age—already showing a penchant for instant labelling of new subcultures—called the saucy, fun-loving young women whose unconventional approach to dress and sex first came to media attention during World War I. Blondie started out as a flapper (Dagwood was just one of her many beaux), and so did Nancy’s Aunt Fritzi. Together with their mousier, less hedonistic sisters in the working-girl strips (Winnie Winkle, Tillie the Toiler, Somebody’s Stenog, etc.), flappers  took over the funnies for more than a decade. Not themselves especially funny, they became a staple of humour because everybody liked ...

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