Wednesday, July 16, 2014

If MAD magazine had been around in 1870...

These 1870 comic strips from Ballou's Monthly Magazine --"The Horse Cars," especially--strike me as totally MAD.  Or am I crazy?  Here, 82 years before MAD, are brittle, cynical, and slapstick cartoons and comic strips making fun of everyday, middle-class life.  I'd love to use some Fifties MAD examples for comparison, but I'm guessing there are copyright issues.

Scanned by me from a bound Ballou's volume.  The art runs the gamut from skillful ("A Thomas Cat on a Spree") to crude ("A Night with Mosquitos"), and various points in between.  I was able to get about 2/3 of the humor--the rest had me going, "Huh?"  I guess 144 years can take the edge off (or even the meaning out) of pop humor.

Click to enlarge....

Ballou's Monthly Magazine

January, 1870:

February, 1870:

March, 1870:

April, 1870:

May, 1870:

June, 1870:

July, 1870:

September, 1870:

October, 1870:

November, 1870:

December, 1870:

Saturday, July 12, 2014

American Boy cartoons, Sept., 1905, including "Dickey Dont."

A Google search for "Dickey Dont" + "cartoon" yields zilch.  So maybe Dickey Dont wasn't a series.  Orrrr... maybe it was, but it's been forgotten, at least by Google's search function.  To be filed under, "Who Knows?"

These are cool cartoons in the primitive early 20th century style, with lame humor galore.  Dicky Dont is especailly pointless--the entire joke is that Dickey doesn't do what he's been instructed to do, and, in the process, triumphs over his elder.  Try not to fall over laughing.  Then again, it's pop-culturally interesting, in that misbehaving young boys are hardly a new trend in comedy.

The American Boy ad (middle) is quite similar to the wide-pan magic lantern slides of the era.  The technique is still used in comic strips--a single scene depicting action(s) in progress.  As ever, click to enlarge images....

Monday, July 7, 2014

A furtive look back at the Seebackroscope

A look back at a novelty designed to look back.  Advertised in magazines, catalogs, and comics, these see-back scopes and glasses lack the iconic gravitas of X-ray scopes, gogs, etc., yet the basic see-back gimmick has endured for more than a century.  That makes it something other than an example of pop culture ephemera, since the concept keeps on going, with never a backward glance.  That's always the problem--disposable novelties cry out to be labeled as ephemera, but how can things that never go away be rightfully called ephemera?  Think about it!  Kind of scary, really.

I'm guessing these devices, like most novelty-ad trinkets, don't work very well.  Which is probably a good thing, since reverse vision is a liability for anyone walking forward, especially upon crossing the street, encountering stairs, approaching an open manhole, etc.  ("Wow, look at tha....  AIEEEEE!!!"  CRASH!)

Ads are from The American Boy, Fightin' Air Force (Charlton). a Greenland Studios gift catalog, U.S. Air Force (Charlton), and the May, 2014 American Science and Surplus catalog.  In that order.  Apologies for the gaps in the evolutionary record.  I'll stay on the look-back--I mean, the lookout--for more examples.



c. 1963: 




Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Montages--examples from 1880, 1887, and 1890

I call these "montages."  If there's an actual, official name for them, I'd love to know.  Anyway, I've been encountering them constantly in magazines of the late 19th century, and they're so tantalizingly close to 20th-century comic book layouts, I want to call them comics.  Certainly, they'd be at home in a modern Sunday comics section.

Observe the way that text and art intertwine--interact, even--in these.  A bridge between early comic strips and modern comic magazines?

From 1887 issues of The Youth's Companion, an 1880 issue of Golden Hours, and the Feb., 1890 issue of Wide Awake.  Coolest of all is the third Youth's Companion piece, "The Pussy and the Turtle," which looks (and reads) like Dr. Suess!

Scans by me from magazines in my overflowing collection:

The Youth's Companion, Oct. 29, 1887 (above).

The Youth's Companion, Oct. 6, 1887 (above).

The Youth's Companion, June 16, 1887 (above).

The Youth's Companion, May 12, 1887 (above).  How close to a comic book page can something get?  

Golden Hours, October, 1880 (above).  Situated in the middle of a short story.  Note the bulletin board motif!  It features characters and scenes from the text. 

Wide Awake, Feb., 1890 (above).  This cries out to be converted to modern comic book format! 


Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Cartoons from the June, 1901 Boyce's Monthly


Yet another "X-ray" novelty--this time, 1901's X-Ray Cathodoscope

From Boyce's Monthly, June, 1901. I'm betting this is yet another take on the X-ray Wonder Tube.  "Tells time on watch through cloth"?  Possible meaning: The X-Ray Cathodoscope can see through cloth, at least when the cloth is covering the face of a watch.  That's my guess.  Actually, "tells time on watch through cloth" sounds like something out of a magic act.

Yes, the highly cheap paper is as yellow(ed) as it appears in the scans.