If you’re a fan of comics, then you might be curious about the first daily comic strip that was published in the USA. The answer is not as straightforward as you might think. There were several contenders for this title, and the history of comic strips is a fascinating one.
The Yellow Kid
One of the earliest and most famous comic strips was “The Yellow Kid,” created by Richard Outcault. The strip first appeared in 1895 in Joseph Pulitzer’s New York World newspaper, and it quickly became a sensation. The Yellow Kid was a bald, snaggle-toothed street urchin who wore an oversized yellow nightshirt and spoke in a thick dialect.
Outcault’s strip was not the first to use sequential art to tell a story, but it was one of the earliest to use speech balloons. Before this innovation, characters would speak through captions or dialogue written outside of the panel.
Outcault went on to create more comic strips featuring The Yellow Kid, but he also left the New York World to work for William Randolph Hearst’s New York Journal. Hearst was determined to compete with Pulitzer’s paper and hired several cartoonists away from him.
One of these artists was Rudolph Dirks, who created “The Katzenjammer Kids.” This strip featured two mischievous boys named Hans and Fritz who often got into trouble with their parents. “The Katzenjammer Kids” debuted in 1897 and became incredibly popular.
However, Dirks’ strip wasn’t technically a daily comic strip at first. It appeared as a weekly feature in Sunday newspapers. It wasn’t until later that it started running as a daily strip.
Dirks’ creation wasn’t without controversy, though. Outcault claimed that “The Katzenjammer Kids” was too similar to his own work and sued Dirks and Hearst. The case went to court, and the judge ruled in Dirks’ favor, stating that the characters in “The Katzenjammer Kids” were different enough from The Yellow Kid to not be considered plagiarism.
While “The Yellow Kid” and “The Katzenjammer Kids” are often cited as the first daily comic strips in America, there were other contenders for this title. For example, “Mutt and Jeff” by Bud Fisher debuted in 1907 and quickly became a hit.
Another strip that could be considered one of the first daily comic strips was “Little Jimmy” by James Swinnerton. This strip debuted in 1894 and featured a mischievous little boy who got into all sorts of scrapes.
The Legacy of Daily Comic Strips
Regardless of which strip you consider to be the first daily comic strip, there’s no denying the impact that these features had on American culture. They helped to popularize sequential art as a storytelling medium and paved the way for later comic book creators.
Today, daily comic strips are not as prevalent as they once were. Many newspapers have cut back on their comics sections or eliminated them altogether. However, there are still some beloved strips that continue to run every day, such as “Garfield,” “Peanuts,” and “Doonesbury.”
So, what was the first daily comic strip in America? It’s hard to say definitively, but many people consider “The Yellow Kid” or “The Katzenjammer Kids” to hold that title. Regardless of which one you choose, it’s clear that these early comic strips paved the way for a rich tradition of storytelling through sequential art.