Tuesday, August 14, 2012
Obscurity of the Day: The Camera Fiend
Brownie camera was introduced in 1900, and all of a sudden we became a nation of shutterbugs. And one of the wonderful properties of newspaper comics, then and now, is that they comment with such immediacy on all the latest fads and fashions. The social history angle of newspaper comics is one of the aspects that, after all these years immersed in them, keeps them endlessly fascinating to me.
And today our lens into the past focuses on the camera itself. In 1902 Albert Bloch, a green kid drawing Sunday strips for the St. Louis Star, turned his attention to the new fad and came up with a comic strip about a guy who takes 'shot-snaps' (!) with his Brownie. The concept was novel enough that he could title the strip simply The Camera Fiend. Now the gags aren't very funny, and the art is painful to look at, but isn't it neat to see Albert's perspective on this amazing new product that was taking the world by storm? And how precious is it that the term 'snapshot' seems not to have yet taken hold to the point that Bloch apparently misremembered the slang -- or is it that he's making a (bad) gag? Hard to say...
Thanks to Cole Johnson, who supplies us with the entire two-strip run of this series. It ran on November 30 and December 7 1902.
Thanks for the later end date on Willie Lumpkin! I see no indication on your blog what paper you found that in -- I'll need that for the source reference.
As for the start of the Sunday, I have as early as January 1960 in my own collection.