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Caricature & Satire, Cat and Dogs, Outcault, Original Drawing, 1890s-1920s

$950

Richard Felton Outcault (1863-1928)
A Bad Cat
American: c. 1890s-1920s
Pen ink on stiff paper
Titled, captioned and signed “RF Outcault” lower right
$950

Humorous cartoon illustration of a dog cornering a black cat against a wall. They face each other with hair and tails raised, and menace each other with bared teeth and paws raised to strike. A bull terrier, with bandages over one eye and a sling around his front paw, looks on from a short distance away. The caption has the first dog asking for assistance and the injured dog advising him that it’s not a real cat but an electric one who “introduced himself to me yesterday — run Towser, run.” The illustration was prepared for publication and bears a pencil notation giving the width as 9 1/4 inches. It is unknown if this illustration was actually published, but it is quite possible that it was.

Product description continues below.

Description

Caption in the artist’s hand, lower margin (with punctuation as written):

 A Bad Cat

Hey! Bill, come over here quick. I’ve got this cat cornered and I don’t know what to do with her.

Thats no her; thats Flannigan’s new electric Tom Cat — he introduced himself to me yesterday — run Towser, run.

Richard Felton Outcault was an innovative and popular American illustrator and cartoonist, best known for The Yellow Kid, the first color comic strip, which debuted in The Sunday World in 1895 and continued for three years, and Buster Brown (1902-1921). Born in Ohio, Outcault studied at McMicken University School of Design in Cincinnati, and by 1888 was creating mechanical drawings and advertising art at Thomas Alva Edison’s Edison Laboratories. In 1892, he moved to New York and worked as a freelance advertising and magazine illustrator, including humorous observations of urban street children. In 1894, he began publishing cartoons in New York newspapers.

The Yellow Kid established an influential format that survives to this day: a recurring character in a strip appearing daily, sequential narratives, with speech balloons instead of text captions. The strip was soon so popular that in 1896 rival publisher William Randolph Hearst lured Outcault away to The New York Journal by offering him more money. Pulitzer countered by hiring George Luks to continue the Yellow Kid series, and a legal battle between the two newspapers ensued, which inspired the term “yellow journalism.” The judge ruled that Outcault could draw what he wished, but The Sunday World retained the rights to the original name of the setting, “Hogan’s Alley,” and continued to publish and advertise its rival strip. Outcault switched papers again in 1897, for The New York Herald. There he created Buster Brown in 1902, a mischievous boy. In addition to the regular strip, Outcault licensed the character to the Brown Shoe Company as its mascot, the first instance of a comic strip character commercialized for that purpose.

Condition: Generally very good with the usual overall light toning, wear, handling, stray marks. Pin holes in margins, likely as issued from where artist tacked the work while drawing it. Pencil notation lower right: “9 1/4 in wide.” All unobtrusive and as expected for working illustration art.

References:

Canemaker, John. “The Kid from Hogan’s Alley.” New York Times. 17 December 1995. https://www.nytimes.com/1995/12/17/books/the-kid-from-hogan-s-alley.html (26 June 2019).

Knudde, Kjell. “Richard F. Outcault.” Lambiek Comiclopedia. 19 June 2018. https://www.lambiek.net/artists/o/outcault.htm (26 June 2019).

“Richard Felton Outcault.” Encyclopedia Britannica. https://www.britannica.com/biography/Richard-Felton-Outcault (26 June 2019).

Additional information

Century

19th Century, 20th Century