I just found out that favored childrens book author Daniel Pinkwater wrote a newspaper comic strip in 1989 called "Norb." As a story-oriented comic, it bombed in the paper and only ran for Sunday strips (there do not appear to have been dailies--edit: turns out there were dailies, and they ran a different set of stories). It features an old professor-type, a young woman, the prof's stooge, and an albino pygmy woolly mammoth all adventuring around the world in a blimp and putting a stop to the ambitions of various ne'er-do-wells. It is certainly the type of comic I would have flipped over in 1989 (having discovered Pinkwater's excellent Lizard Music only a year or so earlier) if only my 9-year old self had access to a proper Sunday newspaper.
There is a long out-of-print collection, but a kind gentleman has archived many (sadly, not all) of the strips from--yes--raw newspaper clippings, and you can enjoy it now just as I have. It honestly doesn't surprise me that a story-based strip that only ran weekly in the newspaper (and lacking the convenient archive feature of the web!) failed to grab an audience, though obviously they've managed to do it in the past, Prince Valiant is certainly still around (as are others), but I would assume even in the cut-throat world of 1989 newspaper comics, surely there was room for one more?
Anyway, I just run a pretty small-time webcomic operation here, but I suspect if I type "Norb" a couple more times, I may yet take Google's #1 spot on Norb-related searches. Norb Norb Norb. Let's see what happens!