Before Comic Books: The Early Newspaper Comic Strip and American Culture

Decorative Banner image with photo of book cover and author headshot.

March 7, 2023
6:00 pm - 7:30 pm


Join us for a special virtual program with Jean Lee Cole on her book How the Other Half Laughs: The Comic Sensibility in American Culture, 1895-1920, in conjunction with our current exhibit Man Saves Comics! Bill Blackbeard’s Treasure of 20th Century Newspapers.

This event is part of Will Eisner Week 2023.

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At the turn of the twentieth century, strips such as Hogan’s Alley, The Katzenjammer Kids, and Bringing Up Father defined the genre and became a driving force in the development of mass media. The earliest newspaper comic strips were marked by wild creativity, violence, and class commentary almost completely absent from today’s “funny pages”; Cole argues that they—and the laughter they provoked–also played an important role in the formation of immigrant and working-class community identity.

Jean Lee Cole is Professor Emerita of English at Loyola University Maryland in Baltimore. Her research encompasses American literature, periodicals, and visual culture from 1850-1930. She has published two books: How the Other Half Laughs: The Comic Sensibility in American Culture, 1895-1920 (2020) and The Literary Voices of Winnifred Eaton: Redefining Ethnicity and Authenticity (2002) and is the editor or coeditor of several works by multiethnic American authors, including Onoto Watanna (Winnifred Eaton), Zora Neale Hurston, and Henry McNeal Turner. She was also the editor of American Periodicals from 2015-2020, for which she was named Editor of the Year by the Council of Editors of Learned Journals in 2020. How the Other Half Laughs was awarded honorable mentions for the Comic Studies Circle Charles Hatfield Prize and the Research Society for American Periodicals Book Prize. She also received the Nachbahr Award for Scholarship in the Humanities from Loyola University Maryland in 2017. She now resides in Oaxaca, Mexico.

This virtual program will include automated captioning. If you require an accommodation such as live captioning or interpretation to participate in this event, please email as soon as possible. Requests made at least one week prior to the event will generally allow us to provide seamless access, but the university will make every effort to meet requests made after this date.