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 Crowd Gets Up an Election Bonfire and the Yellow Kid Plays Nero."
"Hogan's Alley Preparing for the Convention"
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Class Warfare on the Urban Stage

Political Playing Fields

Outcault's comics have a tenuous relationship with urban politics that may belie the paper's interest rather than express the interest of the tenement districts; either way the political world is viewed as being as rife with corruption as the world of the upper classes. In "Hogan's Alley Preparing for the Convention" (New York World, May 17, 1896), a sign on a parade wagon reads "Dis is de Republican movable platform/De planks is all loose an reversible, an kin be removed to suit de winner," and another sign reads "Notice advertising space on dese banners kin be had in exchange fer votes." A close presidential election in late 1896 led to the cartoon's proclamation: "Why not elect em both an let em fight it out between of em?" ("Receiving the Returns in McFadden's Row on Election Night," New York Journal, November 1, 1896). In one comic strip, "How the Goat Got Kilt Entirely!'" (Journal, November 14, 1897), the Kid, in a cart, is pulled by his goat when the goat rears up at a cigar Indian (Indians also represented Tammany Hall). The Kid's shirt reads "Don't hurt him Bill. He is a Tammany Man." The goat butts him anyway and ends up looking demolished, suggesting what happens when you mess with Tammany. In "The Crowd Gets Up an Election Bonfire and the Yellow Kid Plays Nero" (Ryan's Arcade, Journal, November 7, 1897), the kid assumes the role of the fiddling Nero, seen as a symbol of depravity by clergymen at the time.1 Behind him a sign reads "De goat et all de ballots in de sixt'ward, but it did'nt make no difference in de returns you bet," pointing out that elections in districts controlled by the political machine were rigged. Political cartoons that ridiculed or criticized Tammany Hall were generally the domain of magazines like Harper's Weekly and Puck.
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1 Beer, Thomas. The Mauve Decade: American Life at the End of the Nineteenth Century. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1926. 127.