Borrowing Richard Outcault

Richard F. OutcaultSometime in 1995, when I was trying to complete the long-postponed second novel (working title: Walter’s Ghost; final title: Derby Dugan’s Depression Funnies) in what I was hoping eventually would be a trilogy of novels about the imaginary Derby Dugan comic strip and the cartoonists who produced it across the twentieth century, I was invited to contribute a short essay about Richard F. Outcault to Inks: Cartoon and Comic Art Studies, an academic journal published by Ohio State University. The issue that my piece appeared in–Volume 2, No. 3, November 1995–was keyed to the centennial of the first newspaper appearance of Outcault’s seminal comic-strip character, The Yellow Kid. Obviously (and flatteringly), the editors had read my first Derby Dugan novel, Funny Papers and knew that not only was Derby Dugan based on the Yellow Kid, but that Derby’s creator, Georgie Wreckage, was based, in large measure, on Richard Outcault. I wasn’t given a very high word-count, as you’ll see; even so I was tickled to appear (my first and still only time) in a “scholarly” publication, although my contribution has nary a footnote, and no bibliography.

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