This branch of the Austrian Hesch family is descended from Johann Hesch and his wife Marya (Schlinz) Hesch, who came to America from Oberschlagles, Bohemia with three sons: Paul, Mathias, and Anton. +++Johann & Marya settled in Buffalo County, Wisconsin but moved to Pierz, Mn in about 1885. .+++Mathias settled in Waumandee, Wisconsin and moved to Pierz in 1911. +++Anton never married but farmed with his dad in Agram Township, where he died in 1911.+++And Paul, my great grandfather, settled five miles away, in Buckman, Minnesota. He died there in 1900.

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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Who was the Yellow Kid?

And why was he in Hartmanns ads?

If you're of a certain age and you think of "Buster Brown", an image comes to mind, right?  Something to do with shoes, yeah, a cartoon kid with a page-boy hairdo, Little Lord Fauntleroy clothes accompanied by the world's ugliest dog. Just so ya know (for your next Trivial Pursuits game), BB was drawn by Richard F. Outcault for two NYC newspapers between 1895 and 1898.  This is from RFO's obit on Find a Grave:
**"Buster, a mischievous but good-natured boy in an outlandish Fauntleroy outfit, was a child of affluence and the settings were plush, the humor...genteel. His bulldog Tige - believed to be the first talking pet in American comics - was there to provide wry and often disapproving commentary...Buster was always punished for his misdeeds and each story ended with a "Resolved" panel in which he swore he had learned a lesson". 
 Buster was the more lasting character created by Outcault, but there was another earlier character who was even more famous at the time, namely The Yellow Kid.  "a bald, jug-eared little boy with a buck-toothed grin, whose cocky comments appeared on his yellow nightshirt as if on a placard".  Why not, huh?
But what does all this have to do with HH? Not much, but it does have to do with the Pierz Journal, cuz for  one year only, 1914, Hartmanns Store used both characters in their ads--always the top left corner of page 3.  What fascinates Larry and me is: did these characters resonated with rural German people in central Minnesota? Today, of course, they're even odder, especially Yellow Kid.  At that time, before 1900 in NYC, a barefoot bald urchin in a too big shirt automatically meant a tenement dweller whose head was shaved because he had lice. Maybe by 1914, he'd lost some of that?  Like we remember the Honeymooners, perhaps the baggage was left behind in the in-between years.

 This was the first ad I noticed.  Creepy, huh?

A lot of the Yellow Kid ads had him holding axes, guns and saws..what's with that?  Yikes.
But some are visual puns, like the saw one ("Best you ever saw") and the hatchet one where he's using it to cut down a BOARD instead of a tree.  That would have made our uncles laugh, I think.

Another thing we've noticed is that, while RFO was one of the first franchisers of stuff capitalizing on his characters, there's no mention (in our online research) that he continued to draw both kids as advertising.   All these cartoons are signed by him, and they had to be drawn as ads--the wording and situations are too specific to be re-worked. 

BTW, the term yellow journalism came directly from the Yellow Kid cartoons:
"The two newspapers which ran the Yellow Kid, Pulitzer's World and Hearst's Journal American, quickly became known as the yellow kid papers. This was contracted to the yellow papers and the term yellow kid journalism was at last shortened to yellow journalism, describing the two newspapers' editorial practices of taking (sometimes even fictionalized) sensationalism and profit as priorities in journalism". --Wikipedia

Same evening--Wow--after this was posted, Larry showed me a Buster Brown cartoon book online (TG for The book is set up to scroll, BTW). 
 I confess, I'd never bothered to READ one of those cartoons because I was put off by the device of an overdressed little boy and a dog I wouldn't pet.  Ok, ok, I was WRONG.

  They're a hoot, short and full of visual and literary puns.  
The drawings are tongue in cheek, 
with a lot more detail than necessary to get the idea across, as Larry said.  
The subject of this 2 pager (ten frames) is Buster wanting to raise chickens. The company he buys from is Peck Bros, who sell eggs for "hatching, throwing and eating".  Don't miss the stance of the rooster in the doorway. ☺  
There's no one as zealous as a new convert--I know you'll LOVE these cartoons!  Thanks to Larry x 2.

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