Before Bang! Pow! Zap!

“How the Yellow Kid Planted a Seed and the Result.” New York Journal, January 3, 1897, page 8.

Long before Superman or Spiderman, many people read comics in their local newspaper. Little Nemo, Mutt & Jeff, Yellow Kid – these were the comics newspaper readers clamored for in the late 1890’s to early 1900’s. The first newspaper Sunday pages to feature color images started to appear in 1892 and it wasn’t long before the Yellow Kid by R.F. Outcault made his debut in 1895 becoming one of the most well-known comics of the time.

“Little Nemo in Slumberland.” Omaha Daily Bee, February 14, 1909, page 21.

Many of these Sunday comics, very different from today’s newspaper comics, filled entire pages, such as Little Nemo in Slumberland. Windsor McCay, the creator of Little Nemo, is considered one of the most significant early comic artists. Other comic strips, such as Mutt & Jeff, which began in 1907, were still being read seventy-five years later!

“Mr. Mutt and Jeff. Friends! Oh, Cruel World!” The Spokane Press, April 02, 1910, page 13. 

Some of the earliest comic books actually reprinted newspaper strips – readers could see a Mutt and Jeff strip in the first issue of Famous Funnies (1934), which is considered by many to be the first modern American comic book.

Detail from Famous Funnies no. 1 (1934). Photo by Megan Halsband.

There is a long history of the relationship between comics and newspapers – characters such as Popeye, Dick Tracy, Mickey Mouse, and Donald Duck all started in newspapers long before they were comic books or television shows. The Library of Congress has one of the largest newspaper collections in the world available in the Newspaper & Current Periodical Reading Room.

One Comment

  1. bang yasri
    June 5, 2018 at 1:00 pm

    Thanks for message

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