Passed the Past – Comic Chronicles

National Cartoonists’ Day was last week so this is late,
but how can it be late when we’re talking about the past?

Every year, May 5 is observed as National Cartoonist Day.

Why May 5 is considered as National Cartoonist Day?

On May 5, 1895, the New York World carried a single-strip, full-color drawing of a big-eared, barefoot little boy and it had a mischievous grin. Created by American comic strip writer and artist Richard Outcault, the comic strip was called ‘Hogan’s Alley.’

CNN NEWS18 (India) tells us why May 5 is National Cartoonists Day.
(Ignore that “first comic strip featured in a newspaper” part.)

Check Out Ohio State University for Hogan’s Alley/McFadden Flats/Yellow Kid comics.


More detailed is the Michelle Ann Abate essay from ImageText which suggests that Mickey Dugan (aka The Yellow Kid) may be more than he appears to be – or IS what he appears to be.

On February 17, 1895, [R. F. Outcault] published the first installment of his new series, Hogan’s Alley. Set in the tenements of New York’s Lower East Side, the comic chronicles the antics of a group of raucous working-class children. The kids were led by a scrappy young boy whose given name was Mickey Dugan but who quickly became known by the nickname “The Yellow Kid” after the mustard-colored nightshirt that he commonly wore...

The Yellow Kid quickly grew so popular that even two newspapers couldn’t contain him. Outcault’s scrappy protagonist became “the first merchandized comic strip character, appearing on cracker tins, cigarette packs, ladies’ fans, buttons, and a host of other artifacts”…

While The Yellow’s Kid’s ethnic identity is now seen as Irish, the cartoonist’s original audience perceived him differently—or, at least, in a less culturally homogenous way. An article that appeared in 1897, for example, described the comics character as a “Chinese-Irishman” (qtd in Meyer 84). Many other critics and fans made similar observations, commenting that The Yellow Kid looked “Oriental” (McEnroe). Far from an unusual or even unfounded assertion, this viewpoint was understandable...

While you and I may see Mickey’s nightshirt above as disproving Ms. Abate’s theory,
she takes it as reinforcement.


Wednesday Comics – Sunday Comics Section Coming Mid-Week

…that whole period between 2001-2009 was, at the very least, a rough one for mainstream [comic books] as a whole. Every cloud has a silver lining though, and as the 2010s began to crest into view, one of comics’ saving graces came from DC’s then-Editorial Art Director Mark Chiarello, who asked, simply, why not make one-page anthology comics a thing again? Thus we were blessed — however briefly — with 12 issues of Wednesday Comics

[T]he idea of doing a weekly collection of one-page comic strips felt like an awkward relic of the past to mainstream American publishers and readers who had been pumping out (and reading) monthly 22-page comics every week since the Vietnam War. After all, it was 2009! Who even reads newspaper comics anymore?! DC had no problem taking that risk – or, at least, Chiarello was able to maneuver his way around whatever objections were raised – and it paid off in multiple ways, with each of the twelve issues published in a massive 14” x 20” broadsheet newspaper format similar to Sunday newspapers, with each story done by a different all-star creative time of comic mainstays who were told to develop the characters that they most wanted to write and draw.

Chloe Maveal, for NeoText, fondly recalls a unique “comic book.”

The Flash page even had a “topper” strip.


Origins of the Join, Or Die Cartoon

On [May 9] in 1754, Benjamin Franklin published one of the most famous cartoons in history: the Join or Die woodcut. Franklin’s art carried significant importance at the time and is considered an early masterpiece of political messaging.

It is likely that Franklin himself didn’t engrave the etching, since he was busy with his political career. The “Join or Die” cartoon also wasn’t the first political cartoon he had published; Franklin had done another cartoon for a pamphlet in 1747.

The National Constitution Center cuts through the myths.


Who Created Archie Andrews?

At Archie Comics, they steadfastly maintain that Archie was the creation of Goldwater, one of the trio that founded the company. But that is not true. Montana explains in his interview with Jud Hurd, publisher of Cartoonist PROfiles, in No.6 (May 1970).

Soon after joining MLJ Magazines, Montana told Hurd, he was approached by Goldwater, who “said they’d like me to try and create a teenage strip.”

At first blush, it looks like Goldwater was the creative impetus. On second blush, it gets complicated.

R. C. Harvey thinks he can correctly credit the creator of Archie.

THE COMIC BOOK Archie is so durable an American cultural artifact that it is surprising to discover that the newspaper comic strip version is nearly its equal. The daily began February 4, 1946; the Sunday, later the same year on October 13. And it’s still going — albeit in reruns.


Mickey Mouse Minutiae

Inducks (also known as INDUCKS or I.N.D.U.C.K.S., “International Network for Disney-Universe Comic Knowers and Sources”) is a free access digital database that aims to index and catalog Disney comics on a global scale. The name is a playful contraction of the words “index” and “duck,” which is the last name of Donald Duck and of one of the universe’s two main families. So far, the database has referenced a total of 153,630 stories and 147,733 publication issues.

This article presents ongoing empirical research on the topic of Inducks, an open access, online database offering an indexing and cataloguing service of Disney comics for approximately twenty countries. Created and used by collectors and editors of the Disney comics universe, who continue to add contributions, this database is at the center of a reorganizational process regarding documentary and editorial practices related to Disney comics, and thus can be studied as an ideal space of problematization where both amateurs and professionals interact.

A scholarly look at the Inducks index by Irene De Togni.


above: A (very) small portion of Inducks’ U. S. newspaper comic strip index.