After the term “Yooper” was finally accepted into the Merriam Webster Dictionary last week, it now gives it the “official” validity that the term deserves. Unbeknownst to many, I coined the term back in the late 1970’s when I proposed a single panel “outdoors” cartoon to newspaper editor Bob Skuggen of The Daily Mining Gazette. Bob was a L’anse native and told me if he was going to publish my cartoons that I definitely had to conjur up some sort of name. There were no central characters….just a general theme of fishing, making pasties, hunting, spending time at camp and the usual aspects of living in Northern Michigan (The upper peninsula to be more specific). 
 After I looked at the panels and bouncing the concept off of a few friends, I sat thinking about some sort of acronym relating to “U.P.’er”. There was another word that people from downstate had called people living in the U.P. (upper peninsula) which was “U.P.’er”….it was a sort of aha-moment when “yooper” compensated for “U.P.’er” and I then blended that with “Doopers” (as in super-duper) which sounded fine at the time. I showed it to Bob and he liked it right away and began publishing the panels…twice a week I think. He had also asked me to illustrate small iconic characters for the masthead at the top of the paper for that week’s weather….a cloud blowing wind at frightened looking trees, or a smiling Yooper on his boat with a bright shining sun in the back ground.
 Overall, it was great publicity but the greatest publicity was the terminology we conceived for the cartoon as we gradually began hearing it used in a radio commercial, then in a written article or newspaper interview pertaining to a local business person or politician. The word was then given even greater attention when people on the regional television station in Marquette began to coin the word in verbal banter and interviews. Looking back, the word got traction very soon after the cartoons began appearing in the daily newspaper. People at times had asked why I never trademarked the word and the method to my madness relied in allowing a greater usage to be applied as gradually, a band had adopted the name and they built a gift shop along the highway in Ishpeming which passersby could easily see, along with other businesses applying the term to their t-shirt business which allowed for even greater publicity for the Upper Peninsula. I couldn’t feel selfish enough to keep it all to myself because in all reality, it has limited potential and is very specific to just one demographic here in Northern Michigan. Unbeknownst to me, I was never aware of the fact there was a 10 year campaign by a county prosecutor who tried relentlessly to get the word accepted into the Merriam Webster Dictionary. It wasn’t until that recent bit of news that I came to realize how truly special Yooperland is!

If you like cartoons and comics and humor in general, don’t hesitate to vist my online cartoon catalog where I also offer up a new cartoon for each day of the week (web designers can also add this cartoon to their own sites if they wish to, see details here). All of my cartoons are family-friendly and will hopefully off some sort of comic relief


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