Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Hooligans and Mules...Frederick Burr Opper

Born February 2, 1857, yesterday would have been the 153rd birthday of Frederick Burr Opper.
Opper was one of the VERY first newspaper comic strip artists, along with Rudolph Dirks, Winsor McCay and Richard Fenton Outcault he was to bring the Sunday newspaper to life.

Beginning a career with illustrations in Puck and Scribners, he hopped on the bandwagon of helping Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst wage war in the newspaper business, first with his strip "Happy Hooligan".

He also created a couple of other prominent comics, including a spin-off of Happy Hooligan, featuring two extremely polite characters, "Alphonse and Gaston". Folks unfamiliar with the two would certainly recognise their personalities, these are the originals upon whom Warner Brothers Looney Tunes/Merrie Melodies based the personalities of Mac and Tosh, The Goofy Gophers.

And last, but certainly not the least, "And Her Name Was Maud" starring Maud the put-upon donkey, who always got her revenge.

These were some of the very early favorites that readers would turn to in their Sunday newspaper supplements, and along with "The Yellow Kid", "Buster Brown", "The Katzenjammer Kids" and "Little Nemo in Slumberland", paved the way for the next century of 4 color wonders delivered to your doorstep.

Thanks Frederick, for your draftsmanship and for helping solidify the conventions of comics that would entertain us for decades to come!

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