Saturday, November 11, 2023


One-Shot Wonders: The Auto Creates a New Record by C.W. Kahles, 1902


Here's a singularly repellant one-shot by Kahles. It certainly was a world with different values and proprieties just a hundred-some years ago. Hard to believe this nauseating 'comic' was okayed for publication by editors all over the country. 

Our digitized example is from the Nashville American of May 25 1902, but probably would have run a bit earlier in its syndicate home paper, the Philadelphia North American.


Raises a question: At this early stage did newspapers get letters from readers offended by cartoons? I realize a lot of things offensive by modern standards were shrugged off then, but there were still limits. At the very least, dog lovers would be heard from.

This looks like something that likely originated as unadorned text ("A motorist hit a dog and paid the farmer for his loss. The next day, the road was lined by farmers with dogs."). A viable joke if a bit nasty in that undetailed form, it becomes appalling here despite (or because of) the quality of the artwork. What's more, the opening panels clearly state the motorist enjoyed killing the dog, which makes the whole thing uglier. And it muddies the punchline -- is the motorist appalled at these entrepreneurs, despite being a happy customer before? Or is he excited about setting the "new record" promised in the headline?
It ran originally in the North American the week before.
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