Monday, November 24, 2008


Obscurity of the Day: Little Ah Sid the Chinese Kid

Clarence Rigby, one of the regulars at World Color Printing, penned Little Ah Sid the Chinese Kid, one of the longer running series from that preprint syndicate. Ah Sid was the young Americanized child of native Asian parents. The comedy highlighted the very common problem in those days of immigrant parents dealing with children who felt far more in tune with their new country. However, if by that description you take it that the strip was some profound socially relevant historical document keep in mind that the gags seldom rose above the level of racist slurs against Asians.

Little Ah Sid the Chinese Kid started on March 6 1904 and the inital run ended on November 6 of that year. But Rigby later revived the strip for a longer run at World Color, penning new episodes from October 15 1905 to May 19 1907.

The strip's title was stolen from a popular novelty song of the 1880s. Here are the lyrics. The strip closely mirrored the tenor of the song:

Little Ah Sid was a Chinese Kid,
A cute little cuss you’d declare:
With eyes full of fun
And a nose that begun
Right up at the roots of his hair;
Jolly and fat
Was this frolicsome brat,
As he played thro’ the long summer day,
And braided his cue
As his father used to
In China land, far away.

Liya, ling hip, hop, wing,
Chinaman dance and China man sing;
Flip-flop fling, catch um wing,
‘Melican butterfly he sting!

Over the lawn
That Ah Sid played on,
A bumblebee flew in the spring;
“melican butterfly,”
Said he, with winking eye,
“Me catchee and pull of um wing.”
Then with his cap
Did he strike it a rap,
This innocent, gay bumblebee;
He put its remains
In the seat of his jeans,
For a pocket there had this Chinese.

Down on the green
Sat the wee sardine
In style that was strangely demure,
And said with a grin
that was brimful of sin,
“Me washee um butterfly sure!”
Little Ah Sid
He was only a kid,
And you could not expect him to guess
What kind of a bug
He was holding so snug
In folds of his loose-fitting dress.


An interesting obscurity, but not wildly original based on this example. In both story and art it seems largely interchangable with many other strips of the time. perhaps that's why it had such a short lifespan.

One strip I'd love to know more about is Garrett Price's "Whiteboy". The one example I've seen, in the book 100 years of American nwspaper strips, was a gloriously Impressionistic piece of art that suggests price could have given Sickles and Caniff a run for their money.

Great site by the way, I'm slowly working my way through it.
Hi Peter -
Actually, a three year run in the oughts was considered pretty impressive. Seldom did creators stick with a concept that long, since most strips were pretty much one-joke wonders that palled pretty quickly. Not that Ah Sid rose above that level y'unnerstand.

I'll cover Whiteboy one of these days, but I was never as impressed with it as others are. I think it was the coloring that was really fabulous, Price's art was otherwise pretty clunky stuff.

Peter, if you like to see some WHITEBOY (IN SKULL VALLEY) Sunday pages you can go to
and judge Garrett Price work by yourself.


Thanks for the heads up. Having looked at more now, I've got to say Allan was right, Whiteboy is something of a disappointment. The two examples on the Lambiek page for Price seem to be his absolute best strip artwork. The examples on USSCatastrophe are interesting but lack the dynamism and skillful design that made the Lambiek pages stand out.

As far as Ah Sid goes. In a world where some strips have now run 30, 40, 50 years and more, three seems unimpressive but rereading 100 years of Amerian Comic Strips I can see it was fairly good run. The strip itself still seems little more than a pale imitation of the Katzenjammer kids recipe though.

Love the Opper stuff though. There was a man who could draw.
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