Wednesday, November 09, 2005
F. Opper's Howson Lott
In the period 1909-1914 the incredibly prolific Fred Opper was producing a number of miscellaneous quasi-daily strips, the well-known Happy Hooligan Sunday page, plus the more obscure Sunday strip Howson Lott. Howson Lott ('house on lot') began as a satire of the new trend of the middle-class to move out to the country. Opper ended up using this strip as sort of a catch-all for various characters; Maud the mule showed up on occasion, the King of the Cannibal Islands was a semi-regular (as seen on this sample), even good old Alphonse and Gaston were liable to pop in.
By 1914 the title character was often absent as can be seen on this example, which features a regular character named Cousin Willie. Even the title has changed - Opper did this frequently, giving us poor historians fits trying to figure out when the series begins and ends.
Note that Opper does a bit of a daring turn here. We see Cousin Willie making eyes at a black girl, and we also see Willie being 'subjugated' by a black man. I'll bet you a dollar that this strip did not run in Southern papers that week!