Shoe is an American comic strip about a motley crew of newspapermen, all of whom are birds. It was written and drawn by its creator, cartoonist Jeff MacNelly, from September 13, 1977[1] until his death in 2000. It has since been continued by Chris Cassatt, Gary Brookins and Susie MacNelly.

While not politically oriented in the style of strips such as Doonesbury, Shoe often pokes fun at various social and political issues of the day (especially when Senator Batson D. Belfry makes an appearance). Although not particularly well-known outside of the U.S., Shoe was in fact granted its own monthly comic book in Norway for a brief time in 1987 under the name "Sjur," which consisted of reprints from newspapers. The magazine reached a total of six publications. Later on, in 1989, Shoe did a brief comeback to Norwegian readers, this time under the name "Krax," appearing as an extra-feature in the then brand-new Calvin & Hobbes magazine.

The strip won MacNelly the National Cartoonists Society's Reuben Award for the year 1979.

Characters and setting

Shoe deals with the day-to-day foibles of a group of newspaper employees and their families, all of whom are portrayed as anthropomorphized birds, in the fictional locale of Treetops, East Virginia.

Characters Species[2] Description
P. Martin "ShoeShoemaker purple martin The cigar-smoking editor (patterned after Jim Shumaker whom MacNelly worked for at the Chapel Hill (NC) Weekly) of The Treetops Tattler-Tribune, whose difficulties with his various ex-wives is legendary. He is the boss of Cosmo & Loon with a very similar management style to Mr. Dithers in the comic series Blondie.
Prof. Cosmo Fishhawk (usually called the "Perfessor") osprey

The overeducated but underachieving osprey columnist whose computer expertise is almost as poor as his understanding of women. His trademark desk is always overflowing with a very tall stack of papers, extending beyond the frame. Although the title of the strip is Shoe, Cosmo is arguably the main character, as the majority of the strips revolve around his life. Cosmo was heavily influenced by MacNelly's friend Professor Peter Hemingway (now deceased) of the University of Regina, SK, Canada.

Roz unknown[2]

Waitress at, and likely owner of the local diner (Roz's Roost) where many of the characters gather

Skyler skylark

An overeducated but underachieving nephew whom Cosmo is raising. In 1986, Skyler accepted what he mistakenly believed to be a summer job with the "United States Marine Corporation", soon finding himself at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island for the summer, during which time his descriptions of events in his letters home to Uncle Cosmo composed a predominance of the strips. Skyler's correspondence took a front seat again in the summer of 1987 while he completed advanced training, and in the summer of 1988 when he went to sea.

Sen. Batson D. Belfry unknown

A beltway blowhard, seemingly patterned after Tip O'Neill and Ted Kennedy, and whose name is a pun of "bats in the belfry"

Irving "Irv" Seagull gull

A local repairman.

Loon loon

A mail and newspaper carrier whose aeronautic skills are the subject of recurring jokes, based on former Vietnam POW Navy pilot Paul Galanti

Wiz merlin

The "Merlin of motherboards," he appears as a wizard in a pointed hat and star-covered robe, carrying a magic wand. He is often called in by The Perfessor to fix his office computer. ("Okay, first, let's get your fist out of the computer screen.")

Biz unknown A nonagenarian bird often encountered at Roz's Roost complaining of age-related foibles.
Mort vulture Operator of Mort's Mortuary, the local funeral home.
Madame ZooDoo unknown Local crystal ball-gazing psychic.
Older characters no longer seen
Muffy Hollandaise unknown

Secretary and occasional reporter at The Treetops Tattler-Tribune

Bumpkins stork(?)

The "Perfessor"'s manservant/Butler, acquired in an inheritance.

Collections and reprints

(All titles by Jeff MacNelly)

  • The Very First Shoe Book (1978) Avon
  • The Other Shoe (1980) Avon
  • Shoe Extra (1980) Yaffa Publishing (Australia)
  • The New Shoe (1981) Avon
  • On with the Shoe! (1982) Holt, Rinehart & Winston
  • A Shoe for All Seasons (1983) HRW
  • The Shoe Must Go On (1984) HRW
  • The Greatest Shoe on Earth (1985) HRW
  • One Shoe Fits All (1986) HRW
  • How Many Next Years Do You Get in Baseball?: Shoe Goes to Wrigley Field (1988) Bonus Books
  • Too Old for Summer Camp and Too Young to Retire (1988) St. Martin's Press
  • A Cigar Means Never Having to Say You're Sorry (1989) St. Martin's Press
  • Shake the Hand, Bite the Taco (1990) St. Martin's Press
  • Apply a Little Hardware to the Software (1991) Quark Prods.
  • The Athletic Shoe (1991) St. Martin's Press
  • Out to Lunch: A Brand New Shoe (1993) Tribune Publishing
  • New Shoes (1994) Contemporary Books
  • Play Ball! All I Ever Learned I Forgot by the Third Inning (1999) Triumph
  • From Couch Potato to Mouse Potato: Success Tips for the Technically Impaired (1978) Triumph
  • 27 Years of Shoe: World Ends at Ten, Details at Eleven (2004) Andrews McMeel


  1. "About Jeff MacNelly 1947-2000". Retrieved 2009-07-17. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Live Online". 2001-07-23. Retrieved 2009-07-17. 

External links

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