Monday, August 23, 2021
Obscurity of a Fortnight or So: Kelly's Kindergarten
Pretty much anything R.F. Outcault produced is worth an extended look, even one of his more obscure series. With dozens of gags and bits of funny business shoehorned into each installment, Kelly's Kindergarten is definitely a series that rewards long and leisurely study. Luckily, Cole Johnson sent me a treasure trove of examples of this series, so we will depart in this case from our usual custom of running just a few samples. Over the next couple weeks we'll run Kelly's Kindergarten as a weekday feature of the blog.
Outcault's stardom began in the Sunday funnies of the New York World in 1895 with the Hogan's Alley pages, but as most any comics fan knows, not much more than a year later he was was lured away by Hearst. What is less well known is that Outcault continued bouncing around from paper to paper, ending up back at the New York World in the period 1898-1900. Kelly's Kindergarten was produced during this second act at the World.
The series brings Outcault back to the subject that brought him fame -- depicting the raucous lives of New York City tenement kids. The series began on October 16 1898 and was initially set in the classroom though that would eventually become too confining for Outcault. The first installment (above) introduces us to some of Outcault's new characters. He would add to the cast throughout the series, coming up with some truly bizarre ones along the way, like the kids whose faces spell out their names. There will also be a character who refers back to Outcault's original superstar.
Kelly's Kindergarten, later Kelly's Kids, would run until August 6 1899, and Cole has supplied us with the first and last episodes, and lots in between. So keep reading, and enjoy!
Thanks for the wonderful strips you have been publishing.
I read somewhere, I think Alfredo Castelli's Here We Are Again, that Oucault also had a strip entitled "Nonsense", do you know anything about it, any samples?
Was not aware of this, but I checked Here We Are Again. Castelli mentions a panel called "A Nonsense Rhyme" running in September - December 1901 in the NY Herald by Outcault. He credits Bill Blackbeard's collection as his source for the info.
According to OSU's index of the Blackbeard NY Heralds, a panel by this name ran from September 15 to December 15 1901.
If anyone has a good quality scan of one of these, I'd love to see it.