Comic Strip History: The Gerrymander

The Gerrymander

Words continue to be widely used as long as they remain relevant and useful. Since redistricting solely for party advantage, also known as gerrymandering, is still quite the common practice, the word remains with us and will most likely remain for the forseeable future. The word is not as old as the practice it describes, but it does go all the way back to an 1812 newspaper illustration.

The story goes that members of the Democratic-Republican party in the Massechussetts legislature drafted a redistricting proposal which created a winding, snaking district map. Upon seeing this map, either at a dinner party or in the office of a newspaper editor, the creator of the illustration added a mouth, feet, wings, and a tail to it, creating a picture of a dragon-like monster. Someone remarked that it looked like a bit like a salamander, added Gerry's name in front of it, and the term "gerrymander" was born. The resulting illustration was printed in the Boston Gazette in late March, and was later widely distributed…

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Unexpected Comic Strip Creators: Bob Kane

The Little Major by Bob Kane

For many years, I've relied on a blog called The Stripper's Guide, written by Allan Holtz, for much of my information on very obscure and unknown comic strips. Most times, when I'm researching various comic strips or creators, things that I find there can generally also be found in at least one or two other places online. Unfortunately, in the case of Bob Kane, I must rely solely on the information from The Stripper's Guide, because it seems to be the only place on the open Internet that any solid information can be found on the newspaper comic strips he created.

Bob Kane was the artist and co-creator, along with Bill Finger, of the comic book character Batman. Kane drew the Batman newspaper strip for three years, starting in 1943, and that's fairly well known. While writers and artists behind comic books didn't always work on the newspaper strips with their characters in them, it wasn't unheard of. Certainly nothing about that is obscure or unexpected. Going a bit deeper, Kane also worked on some project…

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Unexpected Comic Strip Creators: Joe Kubert

Tales of the Green Beret

Fans of mainstream comic books will no doubt be familiar with the name Kubert from one place or another. Younger readers may be familiar with either Andy or Adam Kubert and their comic book work, and older readers will most likely know of Joe Kubert, their father, and his extensive contributions to the medium. It's possible, however, that they may not be aware of Kubert's history with newspaper comics, and especially how extensive it is.

Tales of the Green Beret

Joe Kubert is probably best known for his work on war comics with characters such as Sgt. Rock and The Haunted Tank, his Silver Age revival of Hawkman, or his work on various DC Comics titles over his 70 year career. He's also fairly well known for founding the Joe Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic Art, located in Dover, New Jersey. The school boasts some fairly famous and successful alumni, and is still in operation.

Interestingly, the school's mascot, Tor, is actually a comic book character that Kubert originally created for the St. John Publishing Company, and wh…

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Comic Strip History: Henry Jackson Lewis and The Freeman

Henry Jackson Lewis

Most of the things I've covered previously have been either from the early 20th century, or perhaps the very late 19th century. This time, I'd like to go back a bit further in order to discuss a fascinating man, and a fascinating newspaper, that had quite an effect on newspaper illustration at the time, and continued to have an effect for many years.

The newspaper was one in Indianapolis, called The Freeman, and was African-American owned and operated. It was first published in 1888 by Edward Cooper, and while there were several African-American papers in various cities at the time, The Freeman was the only one that was illustrated. That was its boast, at least, and that fact certainly helped its publicity and circulation.

The most prominent illustrator at The Freeman was Henry Jackson Lewis, who was born, according to the best records anyone has, sometime around 1837 in Water Valley, Mississippi, as a slave. Very little is known about his early life, apart from an accident as a child which left him blin…

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Unexpected Comic Strip Creators: George Luks

George Luks' The Yellow Kid

One of the most interesting periods comic strip history, to me, is the the late 19th and early 20th century, because of the fierce batttles for supremacy between the various newspapers, especially in New York. One of the biggest feuds by far was between the newspapers owned by Joseph Pulitzer and those owned by William Randolph Hearst, and involves one of the earliest newspaper comic strips, "Hogan's Alley," and its most famous character, The Yellow Kid. The strip was created by Richard F. Outcault, but was also drawn for a period by a different artist, the American realist painter George Luks.

Luks is best known for his paintings, which have been featured in many high profile museums in the United States. He is most commonly associated with the "Ashcan" school of realism, which also included artists such as Edward Hopper and George Bellows. Like those other American realists, Luks mainly created art that depicted the common, working class residents of New York City, and the real lives that they lived. Th…

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Made with Yellow.
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