The Yellow Kid on the Paper Stage
Introduction Origins of the Kid Class Warfare on the Urban Stage Race and Ethnicity Selling the Kid The Death of the Kid
"The Yellow Kid's Great Fight."
"This is the Number 50 of the Great American Humorist. And We're Taking a Day Off."
"The Yellow Kid Gives a Show in Ryan's Arcade."
"He Builds An Airship."
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Exploiting Race and Ethnicity

Outcault's Exploitation of Blacks

"Hogan's Alley Preparing for the Convention."Outcault uses black characters to work for him or for the audience. A black child notably stands with his comrades in "The War Scare in Hogan's Alley" (New York World, March 15, 1896), yet in a May 17, 1896 cartoon, "Hogan's Alley Preparing for the Convention," a cross-eyed black child lags behind and bears a hat reading "Dark Horse"—making a pun on the election at the expense of his skin color. In the comic strip "The Yellow Kid's Great Fight" (New York Journal, December 20, 1896), we see the Kid punch out a black caricature, who then endures the humiliation of having his hair eaten by a goat—probably not a joke Outcault would try on a white character. In an October 3, 1897 cover of the American Humorist, a sign reads "This being the end of the journal comic supplements first year, the kid, the coon and the crowd are allowed to spend a whole day raising mischief." A caricatured black band plays in the background, as black children are painfully included in the visual show, but excluded through the racist text. "The Yellow Kid Gives a Show in Ryan's Arcade" (January 16, 1898) shows the Yellow Kid ostensibly trying to get money from an actor, according to the sign, but while shaking down the black thespian, he pulls out a load of stereotypes, including a chicken, dice, switchblades, eggs, and playing cards. The African-American for Outcault is another tool in making a joke, not a real participant in the merrymaking. Outcault creates a world defined by class tensions in the city, but suggests that white working class readers still need someone to stand upon, uniting all white readers through the one thing they have in common. In reality, lower class blacks and whites may have more often viewed themselves in the same boat; as Riis reveals, both blacks and whites frequented the so-called "black-and-tan saloons" that bordered their tenement neighborhoods. 1
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1 Riis, Jacob A. How the Other Half Lives. New York: Penguin Books, 1997. 119.