Al Capp’s brother, Elliott Caplin was already a veteran comics writer when he proposed to artist John Cullen Murphy that they create a new comic strip set in the intense, fast-paced world of
boxing. The result of Caplin’s and Murphy’s collaboration was the popular sports comic, Big Ben Bolt. Kings Feature Syndicate debuted the Big Ben Bolt daily strip on February 20, 1950, and the strip proved successful enough to
justify the launch of a full color Sunday strip two years later on May 25,
From the start, Big Ben Bolt deliberately avoided the standard cliches of the typical boxing story. The title character wasn’t a dull-witted, one-dimensional brawler lunkhead. Ben Bolt was a college graduate who applied his intelligence and athletic
ability to build a career as a boxer. Later in the strip’s run, Ben Bolt is injured and becomes a sports journalist who used the same
drive and ingenuity he applied to winning fights to getting an exclusive inside
scoop on boxing events. Elliot Caplan’s superior scripting kept the stories lively throughout the strips twenty-eight
year run, and John Cullen Murphy’s experience as a magazine illustrator and sports cartoonist brought a clean
vivid immediacy to Big Ben Bolt’s adventure both in the ring and outside it.
Big Ben Bolt’s run came to an end in early 1978, but you can revisit his thrilling
heavyweight saga today in the latest reprint volume from Classic Comics Press.