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CSBG Archive

Comic Book Alphabet of Cool – Y

Now, come on, that would be just too obvious, right? So I have to try something different! Instead, here we have the starter of it all!

Enjoy!

The Yellow Kid

The Yellow Kid is, for all intents and purposes, the very first comic star. This is not to say that Richard F. Outcault was the first comic artist, of course he was not, as the political cartoon had been well established before Hogan’s Alley began in 1894, but Outcault’s strip, Hogan’s Alley, with its realistic transient characters, was the first ongoing comic strip in the sense that we think of comics today, and Yellow Kid was the first comic strip star.

As you can see, the Yellow Kid was not some gleaming character – Outcault’s strips, while clever and fun, were still pretty rough.

Still, Hogan’s Alley became a massive success, spawning all sorts of merchandise tie-ins, and eventually leading to William Randolph Hearst hiring Outcault away to do the characters for Heart’s paper. Joe Pulitzer, whose paper Hogan’s Alley began in, owned the copyright to Hogan’s Alley, so while Outcault was doing work for Hearst, Pulitzer hired George Luks to continue the strip without Outcault, so there were actually TWO Yellow Kid comic strips!!

The character was gone by the end of the 1890s, but by then, a foundation had already been established – if you give the public a comic strip they like, they will go for it big time.

And since then, they certainly have!

Outcault, by the by, went on to create Buster Brown…

so he did okay for himself. ;)

11 Comments

The Yellow Kid was one fo the first uses of color in a newspaper. Sometimes the yellow would be offset by a full inch from the black outline of where it should have been. But folks back then dind’t care, the same way we don’t really care if a CG animal looks a little plastic-y. It’s a new special effect!

In 1894, by the by, NFL SuperPro wore a leather helmet, a sweater, and spats to fight crime. In all realities, through all the past and futures of time, there always is one chosen NFL SuperPro.

I have a vague recollection of The Yellow Kid from somewhere, but who the heck is Buster Brown?

Buster Brown is a kid who lives in a shoe,
he’s got a small dog who lives in one, too.

(or something like that)

And doesn’t Yellow Kid figure into the story
behind the term “Yellow Journalism”?

What about Obadiah Oldbuck? I think that was the first comic.

Didn’t The Yellow Kid show up in Runaways recently ?

According to the first issue of Comic Book Comics, the term “Yellow Journalism” did orignally refer to the papers that carried the Yellow Kid.

According to the first issue of Comic Book Comics, the term “Yellow Journalism” did orignally refer to the papers that carried the Yellow Kid.

It very well might be true, but I have never seen a good enough source to say it definitively. Believe me, if I ever find such a source, I’ll be using it here. ;)

Derek J. Goodman

April 18, 2008 at 2:16 pm

Danx, I believe it was issue number 27. He was one of the “Street Arabs,” I think they were called. I’m not near my collection right now, so I can’t look it up :)

Buster Brown was well enough known that it became the trademark for an actual line of shoes. I don’t know if it still exists, but I remember them as a kid in the late ’60s/early ’70s. I didn’t know until recently that there was a comic strip…

The Buster Brown shoe line also had radio and TV tie-in shows starring Andy Devine. In an amusing bit of circularity, there was a series of promotional give-away comics based on the show and made to give away at shoe stores (similar to the Big Boy give-away comics). Ironically, I don’t know if Buster himself was in the comic much (judging by the one copy I have, anyway).

You know, he’s right about NFL Superpro. There can be only one.

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