Thursday, July 05, 2018


Obscurity of the Day: The Mannikins

John Booth must have had a rock solid ego to stick with his given name in spite of inevitable comparison to President Lincoln's assassin. Assuming our fellow was in his 20s when he worked at the New York World in the 1890s, his parents stuck him with that name not all that long after the dastardly deed, too. Poor guy! It would be like being born in the 1950s and having your parents christen you Adolf. Good luck with that, kid. 'Sue' would be a cakewalk by comparison.

Anyhow, I know nothing about this Mr. Booth except that he penned two short series for the New York World. The Mannikins was the second of those and ran for just two installments on March 6 and 13th, 1898*. These busy panoramas were given short shrift in the Sunday comics section by running quite small -- small enough that to actually decode all the frenetic action was tough on the old peepers. Booth may have meant for them to be run that small though, since the classical definition of "mannikin" (or "manikin") is "little person", not the clothing display figures we associate with than word today.

Thanks to Cole Johnson for the scans (the whole series!).

* Source: Ken Barker's New York World index.


They seem like all head and no body- Is it possible "Mannikin" might have been a term used to describe masks as well?
Some of these early comic strips are almost nightmarish! Creepy....
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