Graphic Content – Happy Hooligan

List Item:  Read half of the 1001 Comics You Must Read Before You Die
96/501Title: Happy Hooligan
Frederick Burr Opper
Year: 1900-1932
Country: USA

Happy Hooligan is one of those major influential comics from the early days of comic strip syndication. I had never read one before covering it for the list, but I had somehow heard of it through sheer cultural osmosis. For the purposes of this, I found a collection that someone had grouped together online so am not entirely sure if it was perfectly representative of the strip as a whole – however having read a few descriptions I think I got the jist.

Pretty much every strip I read sees out main character as a happy-go-lucky homeless person that tries to help someone only for it to go hideously wrong and end up being arrested. That’s it. Sometimes there is a bit of variation on the theme, like he gets away or he is punished for something he had no part of, but that’s it. After reading 30-40 of these strips where it is near the same every time, just with a change of situation, things get a bit tired.

That’s also not to mention the casual racism that would occur in every 5-6 strips with exaggerated depictions of African-Americans or, rarely, people of Chinese descent. The first strip I read featured the big-lipped caricature and it really gave me that sick feeling deep down that this would be par for the course. I wish I could say it was an outlier – but this was the early 20th century… so not at all really.

At least this was a quick crossing off, meaning I can finish the work week with a bit more Hellboy before selecting the next comic. Please let it be nothing with racism. Please.

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