Where have you gone, Mike Nomad?

I was a newspaper fan from childhood, years before I would have guessed my writings would appear in print on a nearly daily basis. Decades before the Interwebs made it possible to connect with the big, wide world on an instantaneous basis, TV, radio and newspapers were my connection, my contact, to everything out there that was bigger than me.

Just as Johnny Carson’s “Tonight Show” was the avenue for a kid from Central Indiana to learn about the finer points of Jewish comedians and great jazz, so newspapers were a way for a Cowan elementary-schooler to begin to form a rudimentary grasp of current events.

And newspaper comic strips were the icing on that cake of information.

I read virtually all the comic strips, from the beautifully drawn but kind of impenetrable, plot-wise, “Prince Valiant” Sunday strips to the bread-and-butter comedy of “Hagar.” I read the comics page from the top down every day.

I can’t say I loved every single one — sorry, “Andy Capp” — but some of the strips I savored like cold Chocola on a hot afternoon. Even well into my adulthood, “Calvin and Hobbes” was the highlight of my day. I probably should have saved it for late in the evening so the day didn’t peak too early. I still mourn Dec. 31, 1995, when Bill Watterson ended his strip. I don’t think the comics page has been the same since.

But while the funny strips were probably the most enjoyable and the most accessible, I loved the drama strips. Well, I can’t say I spent a whole lot of time dawdling over “Mary Worth” or “Apartment 3-G,” but I read them.

The adventure strips, though, are another matter. A particular favorite was “Steve Roper and Mike Nomad.”

The strip began in 1936 — back then it was “Big Chief Wahoo” — which was well before my time. Journalist Steve Roper was introduced in 1940 — still well before my time — and eventually took over the strip. Adventurer Mike Nomad was introduced in 1956.

Roper and Nomad were the kind of duo that remains popular to this day, particularly in mystery novels that feature a more cerebral lead character and his quick-with-his-fists buddy. Roper was, fittingly for a journalist, the kind of guy who could not only investigate a crime but think his way out of a tight spot.

Nomad, with a flat-top haircut that looked like you could drive a pick-up truck across it without mussing a single hair, was the funnier, flashier character. He was known to hang out in Chinatown or down at the docks and usually ran afoul of some bad guys who wanted to prove they were tougher than Nomad. They weren’t.

I have to admit I lost track of Roper and Nomad after the duo disappeared from our local papers. I reconnected with their adventures, in a daily, incremental way, when I was out of town and picked up a newspaper that still carried the strip.

And I’m a little surprised that the strip continued until the day after Christmas 2004. By that time, the strip had allowed Roger and Nomad to age gracefully, although Nomad could still get into and out of a scrape or two.

He couldn’t get out of the slow fade of adventure comics as published in newspapers, though. While a few daily action strips remain, most have gone the way of Roper and Nomad.



7 thoughts on “Where have you gone, Mike Nomad?

  1. Steve

    Funny, I was just thinking of the guys today, too. Great series that I read for years … as man and boy. But, frankly, the strip left just at the right time. Seven years on now and newspapers have a hard time selling anything, let alone the news. You’d think that a hot, popular adventure serial would be just the thing to spark sales, but that’s not how the Power That Be think any more. It was a great, long run, though. And they are missed.

  2. Erik

    That was my favorite in the 60’s and the 70’s until it left my local paper. Mike Nomad living over Mah Jongs, calling everybody a joker and threatening them with “a poke in the chops!” I guess it never went over with women. Another thing we young Roper/Nomad fans discovered
    Honeydew – the syrpy sweet southern belle whose you might think was named after the size of her breast – in fact Roper/Nomad had the most curvaeous women in the daily comics.

    I miss Mike Nomad

  3. David

    I enjoyed looking over this strip. The artist put fine details into the drawings. This could be seen especially in those city scenes, and inside Steve’s office. Perspective was often used to its best. Here you could see rows of rectangular windows and ceiling lights go back into three dimensional spaces.
    The stories were good and exciting.
    Mike Nomad’s character became a person you often came to respect and admire for his no nonsense behavior, resourcefulness, and bravery.

  4. Dale Arnold

    Ohhhh, I miss Steve Roper so much..The artwork as stated earlier here was spectacular..William Overgard was a true artist..I’ve been drawing since I was 15, and I loved to try and draw Steve and Mike like Overgard did.I can’t believe now I didn’t save those strips’ as they were in a local newspaper my Father subscribed to.Those were the days!!!

    1. Hakan

      Where did Mike Nomad live? Is it possible to locate the address? Chinatown? I got to find the place!!

      Mike Nomad for ever!

  5. deepjuillet

    Reblogged this on Pensées…Rêves…Cauchemars…Éspoirs and commented:
    I grew up in a period reading the amazing tales of the comic strips. Unlike Phantom, Mandrake, Flash Gordon etc, Mike Nomad always portrayed a haggard look, almost detached and aloof…a common man getting solving mysteries and in most cases getting into trouble and redeem himself. With the frenzy of republishing Gold age comics, perhaps Mike should get a chance to relive as well.


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