Percy Crosby's drawings began appearing in the pages of Life in 1920. In 1923 he created "Skippy" for the magazine. Hearst lured Crosby away from Life to produce Skippy as a daily strip for King Features in 1926. The character would bring him tremendous success; along with the popularity of the strip there was a wide assortment of licensed merchandise, among which a certain peanut butter was not included.
In 1931, two movies were released by Paramount, starring Jackie Cooper as Skippy and directed by Cooper's uncle Norman Taurog. (In an inspired moment of directorial expedience Taurog threatened to shoot Cooper's dog to get him to cry in one scene.Taurog won the Best Director Oscar for the picture.)
The legal difficulties with Skippy peanut butter, which were picked up by Crosby's daughter after his death in 1964 and were finally resolved forty years later were only a part of the troubles that plagued Crosby. Over the years his outspoken cartoons had made enemies of FDR, J. Edgar Hoover, Al Capone and the IRS. Two audits by the IRS hammered Crosby for back taxes, which led to a depletion of his fortune, divorce and estrangement from his children, alcoholism, legal battles with his partners in Skippy, Inc., the company he'd formed to handle merchandising of the Skippy trademark. In 1940 he was hospitalized for extreme stress.
In 1945 Hearst cancelled the Skippy strip. It apparently had become too overtly political, depressing and humorless. (Ironically, some of the qualities that make for a successful strip today.)
In 1948 Crosby attempted suicide. He was committed to a Long Island mental institution where, unable to obtain his release, he spent the last 16 years of his life. He died on his birthday in 1964.
But he left behind some of the loosest, most enegetic drawings Life ever published.