130 Years Ago The First U.S. Newspaper Color Supplement Appears in The Chicago Inter Ocean

June 23, 1892:

Comic strip historians credit H.H. Kohlsaat as the grandfather of the Sunday comic supplement. Though he was not involved in the launch of the Sunday comic supplement, his brainchild — The Inter Ocean Illustrated Supplement — inspired it.

On Thursday, June 23, 1892, Kohlsaat launched The Inter Ocean Illustrated Supplement, an eight page tabloid sporting a full color front and back cover, with news features, fiction, and miscellany filling up the black and white interior. It was the first color newspaper Supplement issued in America.

The  Illustrated Supplement created something of a sensation in the newspaper publishing world. In May of 1893, The World in New York, inspired by Kohlsaat’s innovation, brought out the first color comic supplement, using the same press model Kohlsaat had imported from Europe.

Historian Richard Samuel West, at Yesterday’s Papers, has the specifics.

In March 1893 The Inter Ocean bragged of the innovation.

The illustrated supplement of THE INTER OCEAN is the first successful attempt in America to print in colors on a perfecting press. Until THE INTER OCEAN began the publication of this supplement last June all color work of this character was done on slow presses, running, perhaps, 930 to 1,230 sheets a day. On the other hand THE INTER OCEAN press, which is a new invention, prints 7,503 perfect papers per hour. The Petit Journal of Paris publishes a supplement in colors, for which it also uses a perfecting press, but it has a capacity of only about 3,500 copies per hour.


More about The Inter Ocean color supplements:

In July Saalburg approached H.H. Kohlsaat, proprietor of the Chicago Inter Ocean, and was hired to take complete charge of the newspapers color supplement.

The Illustrated Supplement,was primarily  aimed at adults. But in early 1894, separate color sections for both The Weekly Inter Ocean (published Tuesday) and The Sunday Inter Ocean were retitled The Inter Ocean Jr. — and both identically titled supplements had large-sized front-page and interior cartoons featuring Saalburg’s tiny Chinese characters called The Ting-Lings. (Publication dates given for all these Ting-Lings cartoons are April 29, 1894, to July 8, 1894.)