Wednesday, October 24, 2012


Foster Follett Week: Swen Swensen, Son of Sweden and Misfortune

In Swen Swensen, Son of Sweden and Misfortune, Foster Follett takes aim at a nationality that was less often stereotyped in the racially diverse (but not in a good way) Sunday comics sections of the 1900s. When Swedes were caricatured, they typically came in two categories -- the mousy, soft-spoken doormat, and the strong but weak-minded giant. Follett chose the latter for this strip, and placed his lummox in the position of obtaining a job only to make a mess of things and lose it.

Swen Swensen ran in the Sunday comics section of the Philadelphia Press from October 15 1905 to January 28 1906. In our second example above, there is also a bonus episode of Hugh Doyle's Lazy Lew - He Yawns, which we covered as an Obscurity of the Day back in 2009.

Thanks to Cole Johnson for the scans!


Just a note on stereotypes: Wallace Beery started out playing a silly Swedish maid (!) in silent comedies. And yes, Wallace Beery in a dress looks exactly like Wallace Beery in a dress.
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