The unusual success of the comic strip ‘Wallace The Brave’: NPR

Wallace the Brave is a new daily comic, attracting attention, award recognition and increased readership. It’s about a boy less depressed than Peanuts character Charlie Brown and nicer than Calvin & Hobbes.


The funny pages of the diary – it’s a kind of visual comfort, the same characters day after day, which is why the success of a new comic called “Wallace The Brave” is unusual. It was launched just three years ago. It already appears in more than a hundred newspapers. NPR’s Glen Weldon explains how this comic shakes things up at a time when the fun pages are shrinking.

GLEN WELDON, BYLINE: Think “Peanuts” if Charlie Brown wasn’t a brat or “Calvin & Hobbes” if Calvin wasn’t a bit of a psychopath. “Wallace The Brave” is about a family. There’s Dad, a fisherman, Mum, a gardener, their almost wild young son, Sterling, who has never encountered an insect he wouldn’t eat, and his older brother Wallace, a rambunctious, imaginative child who loves explore. Most of the time, we see the Strip world through the eyes of Wallace, a sleepy East Coast beach town called Snug Harbor where the streets are lined with glaciers and the beaches are dotted with rocky tidal pools.

It’s a bit like Jamestown, RI, where tape creator Will Henry, 33, produces 365 tapes a year for a growing audience that devours them in newspapers, online or in book form. He runs a gourmet wine and cheese shop in Jamestown. We joined him on his day off.

WILL HENRY: I’m trying to get to that sweet spot where the kids like it, but the parents will like it too. You know, I don’t want it to be so, like, sappy, kid. And I would like parents to get a good read from it because they are the ones who buy the books, after all.

WELDON: The tone of the band is soft but not toothless. Wallace’s friend Spud is a ball of anxiety and indecision, and his friend Amelia is a tough troublemaker. The world of childhood portrayed in the strip is a timeless, outdoor world reminiscent of strips like “Calvin & Hobbes” and “Cul De Sac”, both cited by Henry as influences.

HENRY: I really love comics and their art and how you can get a feeling and a joke across in seconds. And I just, you know, studied it and worked on it tirelessly for 15 years.

WELDON: This year, “Wallace The Brave” is nominated for two Eisner Awards, the Oscars of the comic book industry, basically. But its creator will not attend the prestigious ceremony in San Diego next month.

HENRY: We bake a family cake every year. And I see all my family, and I eat lobster and clams. And it’s the same weekend. And I have to tell you, it’s my Christmas. I can’t get away from the family toast.

WELDON: Glen Weldon, NPR News.


Copyright © 2018 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit the Terms of Use and Permissions pages of our website at for more information.

NPR transcripts are created in peak time by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative recording of NPR’s programming is the audio recording.