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
"In at the Death."
"The City Boarder Thinks He Would Like to Mow."
"Another Tragedy."
"Daddy Wouldn't Buy Me a Bow-wow."
"A Presentation."
"The Brownies Foot Race."
"The Ting Lings Go a Fishing."
Click on images above for a larger view, description, and source information.

Origins of the Kid: Street Arab, Slum Life, and Color Presses


Puck - sample pageA Hogan = s Alley Folk Sailing Boats in Central Park @ shows the tension surrounding the Park that continued into June 1896 and offers a scene that might be Frederick Law Olmsted = s worst nightmare. A A captain @ holds a sign saying A KEEP OFF THE GRASS @ and two identical signs are carried on the other side of the pond in the background. Riis saw a similar protest in reality--children chalking a fence in a Mulberry Street yard wrote A Keeb of te Grass. @ Leisure time for the working class was not an option in a city where the public environment was so tightly controlled. The Yellow Kid bears a yachting cap to match many worn by other kids. The sailing boats are homemade, one of which bears a shirt as a sail. While one kid has fallen into the pool and is unhelpfully offered a box of lozenges, two others are in the process of falling in. One sailboat is made of a street sign. A flag bears a frothy beer and a discarded board says A dis is a star board @ ; it mocks the indecipherable nature of sailing terminology that belongs to the upper class. In the right corner a group of kids perform music; when we look closer you can see it = s a Hogan = s Alley Songster book A and other songs of the see. @ The comic manages to mock the habits of the rich and their attempts to contain or reform the residents of Hogan = s Alley.

The Yellow Kid cartoons reference other specific problems between the classes. A The Great Law Tennis Tournement in Hogan = s Alley @ reveals a message similar to the protest of blues laws, while making fun of tennis as an elite sport. Scrawled on the fence behind the net are protests for free baths on Sunday: A We want Dem Free baths open on Sunday @ and A Clenliness is next to godliness let our free baths be open on Sunday @ ; and near the top, A Signor AQUA/Lessons in plain and fancy swimming/the second term will be given in the water. @ In A A Secret Society Initiation in Hogan = s Alley @ (September 13, 1896, New York World ), we see The Kid = s version of a fraternal society, with variations of real society names: the Elx, Ancient Order of Sons O Guns, Nights of Saint Chames, Ancient Order of Glad Handshakers, The P.J. Lyons Association. Perhaps the ultimate rebellion against society = s constraints is pictured in A What They Did to the Dog-Catcher in Hogan = s Alley, @ which shows the Hogan = s Alley children beating a dog-catcher, with dogs attacking him as well; in the background we see a boy and his dogs chasing another catcher while the catchers = wagon is engulfed in flames, apparently set on fire. Bill Blackbeard explains: A In New York at the time, unlicensed dogs form the tenements were gassed upon their arrival at the pound as a matter of course. There was no waiting period to enable owners to recover their pets, the assumption being that > those people = had no means of buying a license anyway. @ The Yellow Kid = s shirt notes, dogcatcher A don = t ketch no Hogan = s Alley sausage today, @ suggesting perhaps that the dogs were also used or sold for food by pound employees. Dogs were a frequent feature in Outcault = s cartoons C they appear in almost every drawing with the Yellow Kid (Buster Brown also has a constant canine companion C Tige). Unlike the upper class residents of the city, dog was the working man = s best friend.

Riis 137.

Outcault, The New York World, Hogan = s Alley, August 30, 1896.

Centennial, 53.


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