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Birth of An Industry: Blackface Minstrelsy and the Rise of American Animation

Nicholas Sammond, Author
Labor, page 16 of 21


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Labor, Page 126

Richard F. Outcault's comic strip Hogans' Alley featured the Yellow Kid, a mischievous child-thing living in the New York tenements at the turn of the century,  and openly mocked the cultural and class divides of the city at that time. A bald, snaggle-toothed boy wearing an oversized nightshirt, the Kid seemed mute, but spoke volumes. Outcault's detailed drawings featured wildly chaotic scenes, with text written in a "working-class" dialect all over the drawn environment. 

A sensation at the time of publication, the Yellow Kid was a hugely popular character, inspiring vaudeville shows, and becoming a marketing phenomenon - brandishing postcards, toys, cigarettes, matchbooks and more. Like many popular entertainments of the time, Outcault used race and ethnicity for comic relief, including drawing black characters as if they were blackface minstrels with large, oversized red lips. 

San Francisco Academy of Comic Art Collection, The Ohio State University Cartoon Research Library.
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