The DeBrees has been languishing on my E&P Mystery Strips list for years now. Several correspondents swore that they remember seeing it, but none could come up with a sample. Finally, Cole Johnson rides to the rescue with these two Sunday strips from the Philadelphia Inquirer. He says they seem to be the only two strips from the series that the Inky actually found space to run, both in December 1975.
This points out something we have to keep in mind about syndicated features. Just because a paper paid for it doesn’t necessarily mean that they ran it. And here at the Stripper’s Guide, that’s a very important distinction.
No doubt creators Kipp Schuessler (art) and Charles Barsotti (writing) would tell me that the feature was picked up by ‘x’ number of papers, perhaps 10, 20 or even more. But it is quite possible that these few strips that ran in the Philadelphia Inquirer are the only ones that ever actually became ink on newsprint anywhere. Back in the day, papers often bought features for strategic reasons — sometimes to keep a competing paper from getting it, as a favor to a syndicate salesman, as a hedge against the feature at some later date becoming a hot property, or because they liked it well enough but then got cold feet when it came time to drop some other feature to make room.
So, although The DeBrees has lost mystery status, that certainly doesn’t mean there aren’t unanswered questions. Did it run elsewhere, and if so, for how long, and did the advertised daily version ever run?