On May 5, the United States recall with the National Cartoonists Day (Cartoonists-day or day of the cartoonist) to the appearance of the first colored comic strips in a US newspaper in 1895. Reason enough this occasion its own contribution in the calendar of curious holidays from around the world. What is this day of honor for the drawing guild about?
Who started National Cartoonists Day?
In contrast to many other American holidays and action days with a historical reference, the origins and backgrounds of National Cartoonists Day are relatively well documented. On the “official” website of this national day of honor for cartoonists there is a reference to Polly Keener and Ken Alvin, co-chairs of the so-called Cartoonists Day Committee, who launched the first edition of this day of drawing in 1999 (see also the List of related links below).
Why does US Cartoonists Day fall on May 5th?
On the other hand, at least one reason for choosing the date can be recorded. Specifically: On May 5, 1895, the cartoon character The Yellow Kid (alternatively Mickey Dugan ), invented and drawn by Richard Felton Outcault (1863-1928), appeared for the first time as a color print supplement in the US newspaper New York World .
If you don’t know what to do with it, the 5th of May offers the US American filled baguette day (National Hoagie Day) or the Astronaut Day (English National Astronaut Day), the international day of the picture frame (International Picture Frame Day), International Day of Hand Hygiene (English Save Lives: Clean Your Hands) or International Midwives Day (English International Midwive’s Day or International Day of the Midwife) at least four other serious calendar alternatives.
For National Cartoonists Day: A Brief History of The Yellow Kid
Richard Felton Outcault’s character of Mickey Dugan had previously appeared in Joseph Pulitzer’s New York World as part of the cartoon series At the circus in Hogan’s Alley , but the character of the Yellow Kid only became famous through her own regular series.
It should be noted in this context, however, that Outcault switched from Pulitzer to the New York Journal by William Randolph Hearst as early as 1896, about only one year after the first cartoon strip of The Yellow Kid was published . The editors of New York World hired the illustrator George Luks to continue the series and The Yellow Kid appeared in parallel by different illustrators in two competing sheets until it was discontinued in 1898. It definitely didn’t hurt the character’s popularity.
What was the reason for this? The nickname came from the external appearance of the character, who was always dressed in a yellow nightgown. In contrast to the speech bubbles so typical for cartoons, the statements of The Yellow Kid were only shown on this eponymous piece of clothing.
The stories about Mickey Dugan’s attempts to escape his misery and the peculiar slang language used then contributed to the great success, especially among the socially disadvantaged layers of American society at the time.
Mickey Dugan and the invention of the yellow press
Another indicator of the popularity of the cartoon series is its impact on everyday language usage in the United States. For decades, the claim that the American expression Yellow Press is derived from The Yellow Kid has been relatively persistent, even if it has never been definitively proven .
- The catchphrase Yellow Kid Journalism , which was first used in 1897 by the New York Press and with which the paper tried to describe the circulation war between the two New York publications from the houses of Pulitzer and Hearst, is used as evidence for this thesis .
- It is much more likely, however, that the editors based this catchphrase on the well-known term of the yellow press and that this supposed genesis is further evidence of the media’s tendency to create a story of its own in the absence of clear facts. But it is also a fact that the terms Yellow Press and Yello Kid Journalism are used synonymously, especially in American English.
Be that as it may, it should be noted in the end that the The Yello Kid series cartoons became so popular in the American daily newspapers that the need for talented illustrators increased massively in the years after 1895. At the same time, the 5th of May also marks the birth of modern comics, because over time the short strips were expanded and sometimes extended over entire pages of the daily press.
With this in mind: Have fun reading and have a great National Cartoon Day.