I've heard people saying that "See you in the funny papers" means "I'll see you later," as in "Good Bye," but I always thought that it means "Good bye," as in "I'll never see you again."

I thought that it was used when someone meant to say: "I'll see you on the other side!" or something in that manner.

What does the expression mean and what is its etymology?

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    What have you researched and found so far? There's no point in repeating any elementary research you will already have done. – Andrew Leach Mar 11 '13 at 10:15
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    I have searched it and found different answers. As I said in the question. Why wouldd you think that I made this up... do you really thik I just said that without researching it at all? Beacuse I don't get your question... Shoul I post all the links I've gone through so far just so you know for sure I didn't ask this here first? – SmokerAtStadium Mar 11 '13 at 10:20
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    You could at least say what answers you found. There is nothing in your question ("I've heard people say", "I thought") which indicates any research whatsoever. I suspect that it's a Humpty Dumpty expression which means whatever the speaker thinks it means. – Andrew Leach Mar 11 '13 at 10:27
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    Please use Standard English if at all possible. That means correct spelling, punctuation, and capitalization. Your postings and comments are nearly illegible. This simply puts people off. Stop using "...", and use a spellchecker, and you might have better luck at getting people's attention. – tchrist Mar 11 '13 at 11:36
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    @Radu: "Should I post all the links I've gone through so far just so you know for sure I didn't ask this here first?" No, you should post all the links you've gone through so far (or at least the best ones) so that everyone here doesn't have to repeat the same work. Here is a good example of this; here is another from this same user; notice how this user gets consistently upvoted – J.R. Mar 11 '13 at 16:30


See you in the funny paper[s] means "Goodbye, see you soon".

A Dictionary of Catch Phrases (1986) by Eric Partridge and Paul Beale says:

see you in the funny papers (—often and orig. I'll). 'This jocular farewell suggests that the person addressed is rather laughable: US: 1920s; extinct by the 1950s' (R.C., 1978). Perhaps adopted in the UK from American servicemen c. 1943. By c. 1955, (I'll) see you in the funnies.


The OED has funny paper from 1874 and funny column from 1860, meaning "a (section of a) newspaper containing humorous matter or illustrations".


The earliest example I found of the phrase is in a letter in Commercial Telegraphers' Journal (August 1920, Vol. XVIII, No. 8):

So long, boys, see you in the funny paper

So long, boys, see you in the funny paper. "30."
Box 1004.


Another in the Union Postal Clerk (March 1921, Vol. XCII, No. 3):

We will see you in the "funny paper" next month.


Here's a April 15, 1921 letter published in University of Virginia student paper The Virginia Reel (April 18, 1921 Vol. 1, No. 8):

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Well, boys, must close now. La, la, till the next time, and I'll see you in the funny papers. Ever your, ADELAIDE.


Here's a 1922 example in the signoff of a report in The Tusla Scout from Troop 12 by Ed M'Lain (published in The Tulsa Daily World, March 19, 1922):

Good-bye, see you in the funny paper.

This use by scouts suggests it's not insulting, but may be used in a good-natured, light-hearted mocking manner.

  • I question whether the term is "extinct". I have heard occasionally (though probably not in 5 years), and would not be shocked to hear it now. And I always understood it to mean that the target of the message was effectively speaking nonsense. – Hot Licks Nov 21 '15 at 21:10

My mother would say it to us as kids affectionately after tucking us into bed. It was her way of saying good-night (yes, this was in the 1950's). I distinctly remembers as a three-year-old taking her literally, and envisioning myself as a character in a Sunday comic strip. My husband and I still use it with each other. It's rather sweet.


I live in the Deep South and it is a kind good bye of affection to a friend to hope to see you soon safe and sound. Heartfelt good bye for now.


OK folks, here's my researched conclusion:

This expression is attributed to terminology becoming popularized by World War 2 servicemen. Stars and Stripes, a newspaper written by the US military and disseminated to the entire US military personnel, had an 18yo Army guy by the name of Bill Mauldin who wrote a very popular cartoon called "Willie and Joe" while serving in combat. Obviously he used his battlefield experiences and conditions unique to WW2 as the basis of his humor - which fellow servicemen easily and closely identified with.

So poignant were Mauldin's depictions that the GIs would muse that it was their own troubles Bill was using. Hence, "See you in the funny pages" became a humorous departing regard of tommorow's comic coincidences... Private Beetle Bailey and Sarge became nationality syndicated in the 50s, just in time for the Korean War, then Vietnam - all factors which made this expression's inside-joke tradition.

  • The cartoonist was Bill Mauldin (1921 - 2003). He became well known as a cartoonist for the soldier's newspaper "Stars & Stripes" in WWII. He was famous for his "Willie & Joe" cartoons, but probably his most famous cartoon was the one he drew after President Kennedy's assassination. It depicted the statue of Abraham Lincoln at the Lincoln Memorial, with his head in his hands. – tautophile Aug 4 '18 at 3:59

Two more references in popular culture, both suggesting that the phrase means something akin to see you later (as in the phrase popular in the 50's, "See you later, alligator." The first, from It's A Wonderful Life, is uttered by George Bailey's friend, Sam Wainright, as he departs for Florida in his chauffeur-driven limousine. "Hee haw! See you in the funny papers!" The second is uttered by a business associate of Nucky Thompson in the Season 4, Episode 3 of the HBO series, Boardwalk Empire, after meeting Thompson and arranging to meet later that night. The show, by this point set in 1922-23 (consistent with other references dating the phrase to that time period), portrays Nucky as a powerful man not to be trifled with, so the suggestion that the phrase intimates a somewhat condescending view of the person to whom it is uttered doesn't ring true.


A retro speak phrase (now apparently misunderstood), initially used by servicemen anticipating reports regarding their accomplishments and/or antics, later used by celebrities anticipating critical reviews in the newspapers. A salute to kindred spirits (i.e., Pogo).


I read many years ago that Hearst Newspapers created columns and comic propaganda/ sensationalism to express Hearst's opinions and to try to influence public opinion (just as Murdock's media does today). A skeptical reader would often say in jest that they'll see you in the funny pages. "See You in the Funny Papers, a 2006 article from the New York Times, has more on the role of comics in U.S. cultural history.


It is a response to a sarcastic remark or joke.

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    This does not answer the question. It does not specify the meaning nor the etymology of the phrase. – Hank Feb 28 '17 at 16:12

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