You may very well consider this week’s installment of whatever the hell this is supposed a deviation from it’s designated mission station, that being to read all the comic books I’ve always wanted to read before I died. Not to mention the fact it’s a new all-time low in my over reliance on what I generously like to thin of as the cut and paste school of journal (pick a subject, do some research, collect images, read other peoples posts then do a bit of cut and pasting; rewrite and you’re done). But truthfully I am just as over fascinated with comic strips as I am comic books and that goes double for Hugo Hercules, William H.D. Koerner’s short-lived strip. It ran for five months, September 1902 to January 1903 in the Chicago Tribune and is thought by many to be the funny pages very first superhuman. Albeit one who didn’t wage an never ending battle against evil so much as wander around aimlessly sans agency or visible means of support looking for cool stuff to do. The strip itself was admittedly pretty meh; like a lot of early strips it relentlessly stuck to a repetitious single theme and rarely deviated from it. In this case Hugo getting mixed up in stock situations that require a demonstration of super strength, punctuated by his not particularly catchy catch phrase.
Not being what you’d call a success Koerner left cartooning to become a painter. In a lot of ways it’s still ahead of its time; as much as the trope of the superhuman has been, often brutally, deconstructed, no one to my knowledge has created so casual a ‘crimefighter’; maybe it’s time for someone to dust Hugo off and see what they could do with him..