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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Pre-YK Talkies: Women’s Domestic Advertising Strips

Returning to both the themes of Women’s History Month, and Pre-YK “Talking” Comic Strips (sequential cartoons wherein the story is conveyed via pictures combined with in-panel dialogue, published prior to the supposed “invention” of same format in the October 25th, 1896 episode of The Yellow Kid), we have a few cartoon advertising strips, each aimed at women, pertaining those areas that 19th century America regarded as Woman’s Domain.

Above, we have a late 1870s/early 1880s ad for “Domestic” Sewing Machines (“Domestic” was a brand). Although single panel, the left and right halves could easily be broken into two panels, with the dialogue being voiced by Cupid (speaking into the telephone), clearly coming in reaction to the words spoken by the woman at left. Having received a proposal of marriage, the woman answers, “Yes, on condition that you buy me a Domestic with new woodwork and attachments.” In response, Cupid gets on the telephone (already in use in the 1870s), and immediately orders one.

The telephone’s distinguishing attribute — shared in the 19th century with parrots and phonographs — was as a non-human from which words could emerge. This prompted cartoonists to visually depict that uniqueness by placing such dialogue in-panel with a greater frequency than otherwise — the more normal practice of the day of placing text & dialogue beneath each comics panel, just not cutting it when dealing with a parrot or a talking machine.

Click on the pictures above & below, to see larger versions.

Below, from an 1884/85 trade card, an ad for J. & P. Coats’ Spool Cotton, clearly broken into before-and-after panels, with what is happening conveyed via the two characters’ in-panel dialogue.

Next, another example of before-and-after sequential panels, with the message told via word balloons. From the rear of an 1868 advertising flyer/4-page pamphlet, for White Wire Lines (clothes lines).

Next, for Cooley’s Cork Corset, a circa 1870s/1880s “metamorphic” trade card wherein the before-and-after panels are achieved by folding down part of the card to reveal a second image (a folding-image trick utilized years later on the rear covers of MAD Magazine). (To read the woman’s dialogue in the second image, you’ll need to click on the picture to make it larger.)

Finally, an incredibly racist circa 1880s/early 1890s ad for Arm & Hammer Baking Soda (one of several in this vein that they did). The three panels result from a tri-fold metamorphic card. As with the others above, this is being shown as an example of pre-YK multi-panel sequential comics, told via in-panel dialogue.

Next week, continuing Women’s History Month and Pre-YK Talkies, we’ll show Part One of a very early Pre-YK sequential comic novelette, told entirely via word balloons.

Doug Wheeler

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Doug

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One Response to “Pre-YK Talkies: Women’s Domestic Advertising Strips”

  1. Marketing Foolery: Victorian Corset Edition | The Victorianachronists Says:

    [...] on Superitch, this ad for Cooley’s Cork Corset is portrayed in “a circa 1870s/1880s “metamorphic” [...]

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