The Born Loser
File:The Born Loser Logo.png
The Born Loser logo (used on Sunday strips)
Author(s) Art Sansom (1965–1991); Chip Sansom (1989–present)
Current status / schedule Daily
Launch date May 10, 1965
Syndicate(s) United Features Syndicate
Genre(s) Humor, family life, work

The Born Loser is a newspaper comic strip created by Art Sansom in 1965. His son, Chip Sansom, who started assisting on the strip in 1989, is the current artist. The strip is distributed by United Features Syndicate. The Sansoms won the 1987 National Cartoonists Society Humor Comic Strip Award and the 1990 Newspaper Comic Strip Award.[1]


Art Sansom created The Born Loser after spending 20 years churning out the illustrations on his syndicate's serious strips. He originally titled it The Loser, but under the urging of the syndicate, renamed it The Born Loser. The dailies started May 10, 1965 while the Sundays premiered on June 27. Initially, the strip had no recurring characters but now focuses on the Thornapple family and the few people in their lives.



Main characters

Brutus P. "Thorny" Thornapple – As the name of the comic implies, he's a born loser. He simply can't get a break, whether it involves his job, his family, or just plain every day life. He's rather old fashioned, perhaps explaining why the modern times seem to be running him over. His birthday is November 29, 1951, though the May 10, 2011 edition proclaimed it to be his 46th birthday.

Gladys "Hornet" Thornapple – Brutus's wife, she's even more old fashioned than Brutus and doesn't seem to be very bright, especially with popular culture or technology. Taller than Brutus, with blond hair, she's rather similar to Edith "Dingbat" Bunker. She can be a bit scolding of Brutus, and often gets into fights with him that he simply cannot win. Nevertheless, their relationship always seems to be intact.

Wilberforce Thornapple – The son of the Thornapple family, he's a very curious boy who looks up to his father and often turns to him for advice. We can only wonder how this will affect his later life. He's friends with his neighbor Hurricane Hattie, and enjoys baseball, but as one would expect from being the son of Brutus, he's not very good at it. He currently wears his blond hair in a crew cut but in the 1970s, when boys and men tended to wear much longer hair, he wore his hair in sausage curls, and wore sailor-type suits with shorts. His appearance looked much more boyish with the new hairstyle as his wardrobe was updated with jeans, sweatshirts, and tennis shoes.

Secondary characters

Rancid W. "Rank" Veeblefester – Brutus's boss, a rich tycoon. A very cranky, unpleasant man, he works in an office surrounded by money bags and doesn't seem to do any real work. He always scolds Brutus for being incompetent and seems to enjoy tormenting him. He loves to give a seemingly nice remark to Brutus to get his hopes up, and then turns it around as an insult (one example being that the only empty cubicle in the entire office belongs to Brutus). It's often a wonder how Brutus, who dubs him "Chief," manages to escape being fired by him; this implies that Rancid is satisfied with Brutus' work and simply enjoys terrorizing him. Even in their home lives, nothing changes (such as when Brutus wants to borrow the lawnmower and Veeblefester tells him not to take it out of the yard). His wife's name is "Lividea",[2] a play on the word "livid"; presumably she is as unpleasant as her husband. The character's name is a variation on veeblefetzer, a word popularized in the 1950s by Harvey Kurtzman in early issues of Mad.

Ramona Gargle – Gladys's mother. A stereotypical mother in law, she often visits to pepper Brutus with insults and emotional anguish. However, Brutus does occasionally gets his own jibes back at "Mother Gargle".

Hurricane Hattie O'Hara – The mischievous girl next door, she delights in menacing pretty much any adult she encounters, namely Brutus and her teacher.

Other characters regularly featured are the Thornapple family dog, Kewpie; Miss Fungus, Wilberforce and Hattie's school teacher; and Wastrel P. Gravesite, a bum who regularly hounds Brutus for money.


  1. NCS Awards National Cartoonist Society, 2008, Retrieved November 30, 2010
  2. "The Born Loser Comic Strip". August 4, 2013. Retrieved August 6, 2013. 
  • The Born Loser's Guide to Life, 1990. (ISBN 0-88687-597-8)
  • Strickler, Dave. Syndicated Comic Strips and Artists, 1924–1995: The Complete Index. Cambria, CA: Comics Access, 1995. ISBN 0-9700077-0-1.
  • Horn, Maurice. 100 Years of American Newspaper Comics. Gramercy Books, 1996. (ISBN 0-517-12447-5)

External links

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