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Before Comic Books: The Early Newspaper Comic Strip and American Culture: Jean Lee Cole

The Ivy Bookshop and Bird in Hand present the latest installment of Humanities in the Village featuring Jean Lee Cole, author of How the Other Half Laughs: The Comic Sensibility in American Culture, 1895-1920.

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Before Comic Books: The Early Newspaper Comic Strip and American Culture

Comics historians frequently date the advent of the graphic narrative with the emergence of the Superman comic book series in 1939. In fact, the history of graphic narrative began much earlier. In the US, the comic strip emerged in weekly magazines in the 19th century and became crystallized in its multipanel “strip” form during the first decade of the 20th century, where the comics such as Hogan’s Alley, The Katzenjammer Kids, and Bringing Up Father became a driving force in the development of mass media and newspaper readership. The earliest newspaper comic strips were marked by wild creativity, violence, and class commentary almost completely absent from today’s “funny pages”; Cole argues that they—and the laughter they provoked--also played an important role in the formation of immigrant and working-class community identity.

Jean Lee Cole is a Professor of English at Loyola University of Maryland. Her most recent publications include How the Other Half Laughs: The Comic Sensibility in American Culture, 1895-1920 (University Press of Mississippi, 2020), and Parole Femine: Words and Lives of the Woman’s Literary Club of Baltimore (Apprentice House, 2019).






Event Details

Monday, July 6, 2020 - 6:30pm



by Dr. Radut