High-Pressure Pete and Salesman Sam appear to be two nearly indistinguishable comics by George Swanson, who signed this strip “Swan.” Sam was later taken over by someone named “Small,” who had more of a Jimmy Hatlo style. Pete made “Jerry on the Job” look like a stark minimalist painting scored by John Cage. It’s roughly the same strip, but the volume, bass and treble have all been turned to eleven. Instead of the simple Mr. Givney, we’ve a squat fellow named Mr. Hookem; instead of a railway, the Corner Store; instead of a few surrealistic signs, there are dozens per frame; instead of evil little Jerry, we’ve High Pressure Pete.

Herewith some examples from the Minneapolis Star Journal, circa 1928-29.




Instead of a simple elegant end-over-end flip-take, we have flip-takes of unbelievable violence and disruptive power. This one is a fine example. Pete collars a crook who’s burgled the Corner Store; when the crook issues his version of the Violently Ordinary Rejoinder, it not only blows the hats off three bystanders, it propels the crook himself hard into the ground, leaving his hat, mask and his GUN hanging in the air. (They didn’t frisk them too well, it seems.) He manages to vomit out a bold-faced sound effect, as well.

Note also how Pete never actually wears his hat at any time.