Malkin Lecture: The Formative Years of the Funnies

American newspapers and magazines first regularly started to feature cartoons in the 1860s, but it wasn’t until the 1890s that technology and demand for serial “picture stories” led to the regular publication of the “Sunday funnies.” The comics and their star characters became essential parts of American life and could be found in comic books, live-action and animated films, stage plays and radio programs and were used to market a wide range of products. This talk will focus on the pre-WWII period of comics history starting with the first printed cartoons in Europe and America, the major innovators, and the ground-breaking trends that developed in its earliest decades, illustrated in comics such as Hogan’s Alley, Little Nemo in Slumberland, Mutt and Jeff, Krazy Kat, Little Orphan Annie, Popeye, Dick Tracy, Prince Valiant, and others. Cartoonist and historian Brian Walker will also connect the comics in the Seventh Regiment Gazette published from this Armory in the wider context of the rise of comics nationwide and in New York in particular.

Brian Walker is a professional cartoonist and historian who has been part of the creative team that has produced the comic strips Beetle Bailey and Hi and Lois since 1984. He has written, edited, or contributed to forty-five books on cartoon art, as well as numerous exhibition catalogs and magazine articles. His most significant books, The Comics—Since 1945 and a companion volume The Comics—Before 1945, were published by Harry Abrams in 2002 and 2004 respectively. He is a founder and former director of the Museum of Cartoon Art and is currently the Chairman of the Connecticut Chapter of the National Cartoonists Society. He has served as the curator on seventy-five cartoon exhibitions, including three major retrospectives, Masters of American Comics at the Hammer Museum and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, The Sunday Funnies: 100 Years of Comics in American Life at the Barnum Museum, and 100 Years of American Comics at the Belgian Center for Comic Art.

Image: Seventh Regiment Member Reading the Funny Pages, 1920s. Photo Credit: 7th Regiment Archives, NYSMM

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Thursday, September 12

at 6:30pm

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