Posts Tagged ‘Pioneers of the Comic Strip’

Exhibition | Comic Strip Originals

Friday, June 24th, 2016

Charles Forbell, Naughty Pete,
The New York Herald, 23 October, 1913
Private collection

Pioneers of the Comic Strip
Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt
Frankfurt | Germany
Until 18 September 2016

Lyonel Feininger, The Kin-der-Kids,
Sunday page, Chicago Tribune, 29 April 1906
Collection Achim Moeller, New York,
© VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2016

It was the mass-produced, throwaway quality of comic book art that first attracted the interest of pop artists in the 1950s, who set about reproducing carefully selected details from them as large paintings. In consequence, wider attention was drawn toward the exceptional qualities of the original source of this inspiration: the newspaper comic strip. Countless millions of these were printed, and many more produced, but few from the trailblazing, early years have survived.

Cliff Sterrett, Polly and Her Pals, detail
13 November 1927
Private collection

Frank King, Gasoline Alley,
The Denver Post, 24 August, 1930
Private collection,
© Estate of Frank King

Although the format had existed in Britain since the early 1880s – Ally Sloper’s Half Holiday, first published on 3 May 1884 is regarded as the first comic strip magazine to feature a recurring character – comic strips first began to appear in American newspapers in 1897, immediately captivating the middle and working classes, as well as fascinating newly arrived immigrants. Their success there in the early 20th century was integral to the meteoric rise of newspapers as mass media that, due to the development of high-performance printing presses and decreasing paper costs, became affordable for all US citizens.

Comic strips would gain such importance that the growth or decline of a newspaper became dependent on their popularity, and they became tactical weapons in the war between American media barons, Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst.

Winsor McCay, Little Nemo in Slumberland,
The New York Herald, 23 September, 1906
Private collection

Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt’s new exhibition, Pioneers of the Comic Strip, presents around 230 rare examples produced between 1905 and the 1940s, including original drawings, and features six outstanding, primarily American illustrators, who shaped the genre’s early history: Winsor McCay, Lyonel Feininger, Charles Forbell, Cliff Sterrett, George Herriman, and Frank King.

All images courtesy Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt

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