Comic Strips Have Provided Entertainment
For Over A Century
In 1895, a panel titled “At the Circus in Hogan’s Alley,” depicting an event in the lives of a group of slum urchins, was published by the Sunday New York Times. It featured a character known as the “Yellow Kid,” named for the color of his nightshirt. Comics in the newspapers had begun.
This was soon followed by a strip called “The Katzenjammer Kids” in the Times’s rival, the New York Journal.
During the first decade of the 20th century, several more characters made their appearances in the daily papers. Some we’ve forgotten; some have made their way permanently into our language, such as “Mutt and Jeff,” a phrase still used when we describe a couple of people, one of whom is very tall and one very short. Buster Brown also made his debut during this period. Probably only comic strip collectors will recognize “Foxy Grandpa” and the “Toonerville Folks,” while the “Happy Hooligans” might strike a chord of familiarity.
The 1920s produced another group of characters, many of which still have collector appeal today. Among the strips of that decade were “Barney Google,” “Buck Rogers,” “Little Orphan Annie,” “Moon Mullins,” “Tarzan,” and “Popeye.”
Each decade continued to add its new faces, and many of the early ones continued to thrive. Some of the characters never aged, such as Little Orphan Annie. A few matured, at least somewhat, such as Blondie and Dagwood.
The movies were influential in making many of the comic strip characters more popular and more memorable, and also were instrumental in pushing the production of the memorabilia which collectors look for today.
Early collectibles were generally issued as retail merchandise under copyright or license agreements. All types of interesting comic strip artifacts document the heyday of this form of entertainment. Dolls and figurines, picture pinback buttons, illustrated storybooks, jigsaw puzzles, china and glassware, handkerchiefs, banks, salt and pepper sets, candy containers and jewelry are only some of the types of items available. Original art is very desirable, but understandably scarce.
For over 100 years, comic strip characters have influenced American life.
Return to Index
Movable Paper Dolls Had Jointed Limbs
Activated paper dolls were first made in the United States by the Dennison Manufacturing Company in 1874. They had jointed arms and legs. In 1895, the W.T. Jefferson company patented a moving arm paper doll, and in 1920, a walking paper doll was patented as Daddy Long Legs by the U.S. Toy Manufacturing Company.
Another type of activated paper doll had a rotary wheel of several legs moved between two pieces of cardboard. The doll was sometimes attached to a stick, so it could be pushed along.