The Chicago Tribune inaugurated their new comics section in 1901 with a front page feature titled Alice’s Adventures in Funnyland. The strip started on November 10, was drawn by Roy W. Taylor, and starred a mischievous little girl named Alice, an unnamed maid, and the Duchess, a neighbor lady. The strip was a fantasy with talking animals and bizarre locales.
The strip showed a lot of promise to be a sort of Little Nemo style adventure, but then after just four episodes Taylor left the strip. Walter Bradford filled in for one week (12/8), and then the strip was taken over by a cartoonist who rarely signed the strip. On the occasions he did sign it was as E. Young. Young dropped the fantasy element and melded the Duchess and the maid into a single character. The story now became a more typical Sunday comic strip of the day, with the mischievous Alice pulling pranks on the Duchess. The Duchess really became the star of the show, and her dialogue was written with a thick lower-class Irish accent that was often all but indecipherable. The dialect was, I suppose, intended to be humorous, but really just made the strip a challenge for the reader to decode.
The strip chugged along, with little to recommend it, until March 26 1905. If you’d like to read more of the strip. including the very promising 1901 Taylor episodes, you’ll find them reproduced in black and white on the Barnacle Press blog (see sidebar for link).