Monday, April 06, 2015


Obscurity of the Day: Alice in Beautyland

It's surprising how many times the form of the comic strip was applied to the subject of fashion and beauty. Starting in the 1920s, several syndicates introduced features that looked like comic strips, but were actually illustrated essays on the latest style in fur collars, a new diet fad, or how to apply mascara. Surprisingly some of these strips met with some modest success.

A latecomer to the small party was Alice in Beautyland, a delightfully drawn feature by Dorothe Carey. The weekly feature debuted on January 8 1938 as part of a Sunday page of beauty advice syndicated by King Features Syndicate. The initial installment, though, was not so much a strip as a collection of individual illustrations on various beauty-related subjects. On the second week, though, Carey changed gears a little bit and began tying the illustrations together into a little story. Some of the strips are more strip-like than others. The top example here is more 'strippy', as we follow Alice's toilette routine when she is preparing for a day at the beach. Less like a strip is the bottom episode, which has little sense of a narrative, but more of a list of tips for taking care of short hair.

If Carey's feature was available for use outside of the Hearst Sunday magazine page, it certainly didn't find a lot of takers, because I've only seen it in that venue. The strip occasionally changed names, to Alice's Adventures in Beautyland and Alice's Exploits in Beautyland, but the content was consistently beauty advice. The weekly strip lasted almost two years, ending on November 5 1939.


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