Thursday, December 28, 2006

What Fools These Mortals Be

Do you remember this character? He was the avatar of Hearst Newspapers funny papers when there were such strips as "The Toonerville Trolley, Lil Abner, Jiggs and Maggie, etc. etc. Lil Abner, and later Pogo Possum along with others carried political views of the times, but nothing like found in Puck magazine, and the earlier works of Frederic Nast in the 1850's. These political cartoons are pretty witty and reflect the politics of those times, and some of them look like they would also reflect the current times...

Here are some of the cartoons from Puck Magazine

This character from Shakespeares "Midsummer nights Dream" was created by Bohemian sculptor Carl Buberl, who did the statues of Puck on the Puck Building. He was Bohemian by way of actually coming from Bohemia. Of the 2 statues, one appears to be looking at himself, and the other is aiming his mirror toward the sidewalk. The Puck Building was best known as the home of Puck magazine. Joseph Keppler, a star illustrator at Frank Leslie's Illustrated News, started the magazine in 1876. It was in German the first year. The following year the magazine went to both German and English editions. Color cartoons figured on the front page and the centerfold. Specializing in political and social cartoons, the weekly 10 cent,16 page paper was selling a constant 80,000 copies a week.

The weekly magazine was founded by Joseph Keppler, Sr. in St. Louis and began publishing English and German language editions in March, 1871. Five years later the German edition of Puck moved to New York City publishing the first magazine on September 27, 1876 followed by the English edition on March 14, 1877. The English magazine continued for over forty years under several owners and editors until it was bought by the William Randolph Hearst company in 1916. The publication continued for two more years, when the last edition was distributed 5 September 1918. Typical 32-page issues contained full a color political cartoon on the front cover and a color non-political cartoon or comic-strip on the back cover. There was always a double-page color centerfold, usually on a political topic. There were numerous black & white cartoons used to illustrate humorous anecdotes. A page of editorials commented on the issues of the day, and the last few pages were ads.

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