Obscurity of the Day: Nebuchadnezzar and Rastus Johnsing

Few Sunday comic sections of 1903 were considered complete without a healthy dollop of racial stereotyping. It wasn’t limited to blacks, of course; the Irish, Germans, Jews, Asians and more were all fair game for lazy cartoonists. The accepted wisdom of the day in cartooning was that every gag was funnier if the characters spoke with an accent or dressed differently. And if you couldn’t come up with a gag at all just kick that race even harder – the results will be hilarious.

The St. Louis Globe-Democrat Sunday comics section was, as we’ve discussed before, pretty well a one man show. DeVoss Driscoll supplied Nebuchadnezzar and Rastus Johnsing about a black man and his donkey on a semi-regular basis from November 22 1903 through April 3 1904. Not a strip to put in the time capsule, that’s for sure, but we do get Driscoll’s delightfully loopy animals in a starring role.

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