The Yellow Kid, the Latest and the Greatest
January 5, 1896, the "New York World" presented a full-page color cartoon entitled, "Golf – the Great Society Sport as played in Hogan's Alley," featuring a barefoot, bald-headed gamin clad only in a yellow nightshirt; the Yellow Kid (or Mickey Dugan, as he was eventually to be baptized) became the hero of the world's first comic strip. A common comic image at the time was the life of "ethnic" children of urban poverty; it is not likely that such humor would be acceptable today; the nearest we can come, perhaps, is some of the "Our Gang" comedies. Richard Felton Outcault (1864-1928) was one cartoonist who made a specialty of this genre, with a comic vein that was all his own. His street urchins radiated defiance of penury, the Kid typically standing at the center of some riotous activity. In October, Outcault moved to the "New York Journal." The law at the time meant that neither the "World" nor Outcault had any proprietary rights in the feature, except for the title "Hogan's Alley", which belonged to the paper, so, from then on, there were two Yellow Kids, one drawn by Outcault for the "Journal," and one, drawn under the old title by another artist, for the "World." The Yellow Kid could be seen everywhere for a few years, in toys and advertising, on the vaudeville stage, and in sheet music. In particular, the Homer Tourjee Music Publishing Company of New York published this novelty song, at first called "The Dugan Kid Who Lives in Hogan's Alley." On November 8, 1896, the comic supplement to the "Journal" printed a somewhat altered version of the song, with words changed to fit the move to the "Journal", on which this arrangement is based.
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