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Richard Felton Outcault (1863 - 1928)

Lot 415: New York Sunday Journal/The Yellow Kid.

Poster Auctions International Inc

November 9, 2008
New York, NY, US

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New York Sunday Journal/The Yellow Kid.
H.A. Thomas & Wylie, N.Y.
Cond A-/Slight tears at edges/P.
Hully Gee! Who was the Yellow Kid? Quite simply the first successful comic strip character to achieve a popularity that not only increased the sales of newspapers carrying him, but also the first to demonstrate that a comic strip character could be merchandised profitably. In fact, for these two reasons, his creator, Richard Felton Outcault (1863-1928), is generally credited with permanently establishing the comic strip and making it a part of American society. The Yellow Kid was a bald, snaggletoothed child with a goofy grin in a yellow nightshirt-a hand me down from his sister-who hung around in a ghetto alley filled with equally odd characters, mostly other children-most of which can be seen in this poster for the New York Sunday Journal. The kid habitually spoke in a ragged, peculiar slum argot printed on his shirt, a device meant to lampoon advertising billboards of the day. The Kid's head was drawn wholly shaved as if having been recently ridden of lice-a common sight among New York's tenement ghetto children during the period. Around the World with the Yellow Kid-one of three strip series produced by Outcault between 1896 and 1898 (none of which lasted more than four months)-sent The Kid on a world tour in the manner of famed American journalist, Nellie Bly. That strip is hilariously promoted in this Outcault-inspired design, both in its cast of characters (from The Kid and his pals to Queen Victoria, Kaiser Wilhelm II and their cronies) to its not-so-subtle commentary ("Say wont we nock yoorop silly"). Outcault would go on to create another comic strip character that became an even-better known and enduring promotional icon-Buster Brown.
20 x 15 in./51 x 38 cm

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