Thursday, August 21, 2014

More picture stories from the 19th century children's magazine, The Little Corporal (1873)

The Little Corporal's picture stories were part shadow play and part comic strip, with a hint of rebus (a type of word puzzle highly popular in 19th century children's magazines). Each Little Corporal picture story was followed, in the next month's issue, by a detailed text ("translation").  Were the folks credited for the picture stories (W.O.C., Private Queer, E.K., et al.) the text writers or illustrators (or both)?  I have no idea, though, somehow, I'm guessing "Private Queer" was fictional.

Comic strips and books of the 1800s--the ones I've seen, at least--tend to be quite light on story and heavy on gags, improbable situations, and extreme caricature.  By contrast, The Little Corporal's picture stories, with their realistic situations, mild slapstick, and matter-of-fact texts, strike me as a big step in the direction of the sort of comic stories I grew up reading.  And the artwork is an absolute joy.

Note the deviation from the shadow-play approach on the sixth picture story down, "Playing Truant."  Maybe the artist had intended to render the characters in silhouette but didn't have time?  And apologies for the absence of a translation to the last story--I don't have the Jan., 1874 issue containing same.  Enjoy these marvelous comics-coming-into-shape relics:

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