Thursday, December 24, 2009

Rare Humor Magazines, Richard Outcault (Buster Brown,Yellow Kid) Rose O'Neill

This post may seem to be a little rambling but it actually all ties together quite nicely. After years of study, things that previously seem random begin to come into focus. I think you'll get the drift.
The idea began when I received this magazine after purchasing it on ebay for $13.50.

It went relatively unnoticed but I immediately recognized it as an exquisitely rare magazine, obviously related to a run of another, The Foolish Book, that I was fortunate to obtain in the late 90's at the rare room of the fabulous Strand Bookstore on the corner of Broadway and 12th Street in Manhattan on one of my countless rounds of book hunting in Gotham City.
The run I obtained, is most probably the only one on the planet, consisting of 21 issues between June 1903 and January 1905. The incredibly well-researched and valuable reference by David Sloane on American humor periodicals, published by Greenwood Press (hard to find and highly recommended) is, by far, the best reference on the subject:

and even Professor Sloane had not located any more than 2 issues. This appears to be a complete run and it contains illustrations by the likes of R.F. Outcault and Rose O'Neill (also as Rose O'Neill Latham) most remembered for the Kewpies and the famous dolls modeled after them. The highly collected Kewpies were featured for many years in the widely circulated Ladies' Home Journal.
The Foolish Book covers featured entertainer Ida Melville, in her vaudeville character of Sis Hopkins' sister and she later allegedly edited the magazine.

Sis Hopkins had here own magazine, also extremely rare, a Judge spinoff begun in 1899.

Since Just Fun and Foolish Book began at the same time and were both published by Arkell Publications, I suspected that they employed the same illustrators and, to my glee, I found this to be the case. Here are two examples that most probably have never been reproduced before, there's not even a whiff of either of these magazines on the web or in Union List of Serials.

The Outcault illustration is reminicent of those seen in another rare humor periodical Truth, from the 1890's, featuring one of Outcaults's most notable creations, The Yellow Kid, here the first appearance

and here the first issue that I obtained in the 1980's from a catalog of the State Street Bookshop in Ann Arbor, Michigan for $85 that led to the acquistion of a collection that is the cornerstone of my present holdings.

for those interested the Kid, it would be hard to improve on Richard Olson's great website at

The other important Outcault creation was Buster Brown, who I first came to know in the early 1950's (eek!) by virtue of the sponsorship the childrens' program Andy's Gang, featuring Andy Devine (who also played "Jingles" to Guy Madison's Wild Bill Hickok). For some crazy reason I still remember quite vividly the comic Billy Gilbert and "plunk your magic twanger" Froggy the Gremlin from that program.
Getting back to Buster, he also had his own magazine, a promotional effort for Buster Brown Stockings. A 2007 Hakes auction had a copy of that sold for a little over $300 that they allege was the first issue.

In fact it is not, though it is dated January 1906

my copy came with the original mailing envelope!

I've since located an issue for July 1906

and one that is probably earlier, considering the cover image is identical to that of the mailing envelope of the January 1906 issue.

All of this information by the way, will be found nowhere else, since even Sloane doesn't list this title.

Well. I told you that this would ramble, but at least you can appreciate a little better my crazy thought process a little better and hopefully this unique information will be valuable to future historians! Its sure a great way to spend three hours on the day before christmas.

In that light, I bid ye farewell with the original magazine appearance of a christmas classic, from volume one of The Casket from 1826.

and a Santa image from the first issue of Dollar Magazine from 1841

No comments: