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Ponytail

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About Lee Holley
About Ponytail
Paperback Releases
Ponytail's Best-Known Boyfriends
Things to Know About Ponytail



About Ponytail:  Ponytail Johnson is blonde-haired, ponytailed teenage girl.  Her creator, (male) Lee Holley had been around a long time before "Ponytail" debuted in 1960.  He did a lot of work for animation, newspaper comics, and comic books.  I always thought it was funny that "Ponytail" was a cartoon panel drawn in a style very similar to Hank Ketchum's "Dennis the Menace".  It wasn't until years later that I learned Lee Holley was previously an artist for Ketchum's "Dennis the Menace" on the Sunday strip.

    By 1963, "Ponytail" gained a Sunday strip.  From September, 1962 through December, 1965, a "Ponytail" comic book series was published by Dell; it ran 12 issues.  Holley did do some of the work on it, but the lion's share was done by Frank Hill.  Charlton started another "Ponytail" comic book series that ran for 8 issues between 1969 to 1971.  Later in the 70s, Holley created a second teenage feature for Gold Key called, "Tom, Dick & Harriet".

    Dell Books started to reprint the newspaper cartoon panels of "Ponytail" in a series of paperback books starting in 1964.

    What makes Ponytail work as a character is that her humor is so "matter of fact".  She doesn't mean to be funny, she just has that "What?  Didn't you know THAT?" kind of attitude.  Everything definitely centers around her, and she's a slave to the trends and fashions of her time.  Pretty much like any teenage girl anybody has ever known in the history of the universe.  This is why "Ponytail" can still be read and understood today.

    The "Ponytail" strip/panel (whatever you want to call it) was cancelled by King Features in 1989.  Circulation for the strip was getting pretty low by King's standards.  Surprisingly, Lee Holley seemed to be okay with it.  The strip had a good run, and he was ready to retire.

    Amazingly, it doesn't seem that "Ponytail" ever crossed over into non-comic media like cartoons, films, or TV shows.  She was certainly popular enough to warrant it.

    I love "Ponytail".  I think the character is timeless, although much of the old cartoon panels are dated due to fashions, etc.  However, the character could easily be updated with the times.  Back in the 1960s, Ponytail was infatuated with the Beatles.  Today it could be Justin Bieber (this being written in March, 2011).  Ponytail had a lot of different boyfriends.  Today, you could add a video gamer or a wannabe white rapper to the mix along with the already established jock (Donald) and hot rodder (Stickshift).  I think "Ponytail" is a lot more open to possibilities than most comic strip characters.

    However, "Ponytail" was Lee Holley's baby, and nobody new was brought on board to help bring in new ideas.  It would have behooved King Features to convince Mr. Holley to pass the torch and keep the strip alive, rather than cancel it altogether.  But these are the kinds of decisions made in business, for better or worse.  And at least "Ponytail" had a great, long life as Holley made it.  The strip was always good.

Things to Know About Ponytail:
  • "Ponytail" was created by Lee Holley and ran from 1960 to 1989.  King Features Syndicate owned the strip.
  • A sunday strip for "Ponytail" was started in 1963.
  • The character's name is Ponytail Johnson.  It's unclear if Ponytail was her real first name or a nickname.
  • "Ponytail" was drawn in a style similar to Hank Ketchum's "Dennis the Menace".  Holley previously worked on the "Dennis" Sunday strip as an artist.
  • Ponytail has a mother and father.  Her parents appear to be nameless.  We see father more than mother.
  • Ponytail also has a brother named Scooter.  He's typically seen wearing a big baseball cap and a baggy shirt.
  • The name of Ponytail's school is Watsonhill High School.
  • Ponytail has a lot of friends.  Most of them are generic and nameless.
  • Ponytail has a fat girlfriend named Sugar Bea.
  • Ponytail LOVES the Beatles, from very early on (1964).  Her favorite is Ringo.
  • Ponytail has a lot of boyfriends.  Her favorite seems to be Donald.
  • Over time, the "Ponytail" feature peaked at a readership of over 300 newspapers.

Ponytail's Best-known Boyfriends:
  • Donald, the jock football player
  • Penrod, the nerd
  • Stickshift, the hotrodder
Paperback Releases:  I will add more information as I find it, but here is a list of known "Ponytail" books of strip reprints I've found.
  • Ponytail Galore (1965, Dell Books)
About Lee Holley:
  • Holley worked in animation for Warner Bros., including work for the cartoons of Speedy Gonzales and Tweety.
  • He also did work for newspaper comic strips for the Newspaper Enterprise Association company, including "Alley Oop" and "Wash Tubbs".
  • For the Gold Key publisher, Holley did work on the comic books of Pink Panther and Woody Woodpecker.
  • Holley was an artist for Hank Ketchum's Sunday strip version of "Dennis the Menace".
  • For King Features Syndicate, Holley worked on the strips of "Popeye" and "Prince Valiant" before they accepted his proposal of "Ponytail" in 1960.
  • During and after the course of "Ponytail", Holley kept an incredibly low profile unlike some of his contemporaries (like Charles Schulz of "Peanuts" fame, or Hank Ketchum to name a few).
  • In the early 1970s, Holley created another feature for Gold Key comic books called, "Tom, Dick & Harriet".
  • Since retirement in 1989, Holley has kept himself busy with flying his plane, speaking at schools about cartooning, doing paintings, and other things.