Crumbling Paper - old, old comic strips
February 3, 2008 8:19 PM   Subscribe

Crumbling Paper is a collection of old comics. And I mean old, some from the early years of the 20th Century. There are strips from artists such as George Herriman, Rube Goldberg, Basil Wolverton and Gustave Verbeek. It has such strips as Katzenjammer Kids, Little Orphan Annie and Count Screwloose. Warning: Some of these comics feature racial caricatures, as was the unfortunate norm when the strips were drawn. Here is the collector, Steven Stwalley, on Race and Ethnicity in the Early Comics. [via Eddie Campbell]
posted by Kattullus (12 comments total) 27 users marked this as a favorite
Great resource!
Also, barnacle press is worthwhile. And there's also Andy's early comics stuff .... OK, I'll stop. This could go on and on....
posted by drhydro at 9:03 PM on February 3, 2008

Whoa, nice. Favorited and bookmarked!
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:08 PM on February 3, 2008

Interesting. They point to this Herriman cartoon as containing a potentially offensive representation of race. Herriman was himself African-American.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:08 PM on February 3, 2008

wow wow wow - thank you so much for this!

there is also a pretty great book on older, mostly forgotten comics called "Art out of Time."
posted by ethel at 9:39 PM on February 3, 2008

Astro Zombie: I've heard this said about Herriman before, and I've also heard people refer to him as being bi-racial. It's difficult to tell from looking at his photos, but if it was the case, considering the times and as the cartoon you linked to implies, it wasn't something he touted. OK, now I am curious if there were any early 20th century African American cartoonists that gained any sort of popularity or acclaim.

Anyhoo, thanks for the post!
posted by rokabiri at 11:04 PM on February 3, 2008

I also heard he was bi-racial, and this quote from this page seems to bear that out:

"At age ten, George moved west to Los Angeles with his family. His father, a tailor, was likely relocating to avoid having his family classified as slaves - George's Creole background made him subject to tight segregation laws in the 1890's.

According to Krazy Kat: The Comic Art of George Herriman:

"Herriman's lineage has always been the basis of conjecture. Previous biographical information describes Herriman as either Greek or French. The theory of Greek descent most surely stemmed from his good friend and fellow cartoonist Thomas Aloysius "Tad" Dorgan, who dubbed Herriman "The Greek" because "we didn't know what he was." On his death certificate, Herriman's daughter Mabel wrote that his parents had been born in France, his father in Paris and his mother in Alsace-Lorraine. However, on Herriman's birth certificate, he is classified as "colored." The census of 1880 lists his mother and father as mulattoesand indicated that his parents and grandparents on both sides were natives of Louisiana. The always private Herriman, who never publicly divulged any information about his personal life or background, once told a close friend he was Creole, and because his hair was kinky though he might have some "Negro Blood."

So on one hand, I can certainly understand why the label on that cartoon is necessary, but it's pretty clear that Herriman himself was affected by segregation and racism.

None of this changes the fact that reading Krazy Kat is like falling in love, and that he was a genius.
posted by louche mustachio at 1:47 AM on February 4, 2008 [1 favorite]

Wow, what a find. I've just scratched the surface, but I've already run across this, which links to one of the strangest comics I've ever seen. Great post!
posted by languagehat at 7:58 AM on February 4, 2008 [1 favorite]

Most excellent find, thank you, Kattullus. I can't wait to dig into this after work today.
posted by madamjujujive at 8:54 AM on February 4, 2008

Ah! I've seen one of those Little Lady Lovekins and Old Man Muffaroo comics before but forgot about it. Thanks for reminding me of it LH!
posted by JHarris at 1:17 PM on February 4, 2008

One of the stranger things about krazy kat is that the background scenery / colours are hardly ever consistent from panel to panel.

This brings to mind race issues in Tintin. Though usually quite cultured, Herge got into hot water for panels like this in TIntin in the Congo ("Today we will take about your country: Belgium". Below is the PC substitute).

in depth
posted by harhailla.harhaluuossa at 1:49 PM on February 4, 2008

Considered to be the inspiration for The Katzenjammer Kids, Max and Moritz was published in 1865.
posted by globolin at 5:32 PM on February 4, 2008

Fantastic - thank you.
posted by LobsterMitten at 7:53 PM on February 4, 2008

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