Many explanations of why the Yellow Kid stopped appearing
as a regular character in 1898 have floated around academic
circles, with no clear conclusion, but the Kid's fate appears
connected to the reputation of yellow journalism,1 which
took much of the blame for the war with Spain during that
same year. As early as 1896 readers could spot the "free
Cuba" or "Viva Cuba Libre" that occasionally appeared
in Outcault's drawings.2 As
yellow journal historian W. Joseph Campbell documents, many
blamed yellow journalism, and specifically the New York
Journal, for drumming up support for a war with Spain,
but the paper was more a reflection of Americans' anger
at Spain's treatment of Cuba.2 The Journal did
run on it's front page "How Do You Like the Journal's War?" for three days in May 1998, but Campbell points
out this was done to mock claims they had started the war,
not boast of its accomplishments.3 Campbell
documents that the war was not profitable for yellow journals:
it drove away advertisers, newsprint costs skyrocketed, and
it was expensive to pay for war coverage. The Journal claimed
over $750,000 in losses due to the war4—or over $15 million in 2002.5
1 There's no doubt
papers picked up on Wardman's naming of "yellow-kid journalism." The Washington Post carried an item describing an incorrect
report, with the headline "A Bit of Yellow Kid Journalism," July 1, 1897: 2.
2 "Hogan's Alley Folk
Sailing Boats in Central Park." New York World. 28 June 1896.
3 Campbell 106.
4 Campbell 122.
5 Campbell 116-117.
6 Inflation calculator