Obscurity of the Day: Klondike

Very distressing, very distressing. Here we have the two part series Klondike by Percy Winterbottom that ran in the New York World Sunday sections of August 29 and September 5 1897. What’s distressing is that I cannot find even a peep about Winterbottom in my cartooning library. Yet I know I have read about him somewhere. Grumble, grumble. I guess I must put out the call to Alex Jay to save my bacon on this one and dig up some background on ol’ Percy (no worries, Alex will come to the rescue tomorrow!).

Anyhow, this neat little series is one of just two that Winterbottom contributed to the early Pulitzer funnies sections. Both the art and text are inspired lunacy, and I love that Winterbottom billed himself as the inventor of “the New Art” (what we more typically refer to as Art Nouveau, acknowledging the French role in popularizing the style).

The captions, in teeny-tiny type, are just about impossible to read, so let me save your peepers the strain:

Caption 1 (missing a few words cropped out of the scan): We have organized an EXPEDISHUN TWO GO TOO KLONDIKE. No panes have bean speared to make our planz thorough. Sea us as wee start. First comes our guyed — LAUGHING VIPER, THEE PIEYUTE CHEEF. Then comes our faithfull dog, drowing the sledge with provishuns for himself a indian. THIRD is US. Wee are all well mounted on a good serviceabell horse. Wee have soul charge of thee expedishun. Below us is our BODY-GUARD. Next comes a hog. Wee take him along two root out thee gold. If he refuzes to work wee will kil and eat hymn. It is an experiment. After thee hog comes MINIE who who volunteered to go along too keep the party inn a good humor. Last is a COLORED MAN with BAGS for the gold and CAND CHICKENS Four the DOMINIE. WEE started from HOBOAKIN and att this moment are almost att PATERSON. OUR CORSE is DEW NORTHWEST.

Caption 2: When WE reach HOHOKUS, NOO JERSEY, OUR INNDIAN Guyed Takes an over-dose of FIRE-WATER and LOOSES Thee TRAIL. This, TOGETHER with HIS LOUD HOOPING GIVES THEE DOMINIE NERVOUS PROSTRASHUN, and wee are obliged too give up WHAT PROMISED TOO BE A Sucksessful PROSPECKTING TOUR. WEE do knot blame “LAUGHING VIPER,” OUR GUYED, BUT WEE DEW BLAME the dominie. WEE did not want too take HYMN along, but hee said hee wood cheer our hours of sadness. THEE OLD RASKELL, THIS PICKTURE shows us in site of SEECAUCUS. THEE Dominie has our “MOUNT,” and thee COLERD man is holding him onn and driving thee horse. WEE are sketching farmers en-root, so wee will have something too SELL when WEE REECH NOO YORK. NOTE THEE TERROR OF THEE chickens. CONFOUND THEE DOMINIE.

Thanks to Cole Johnson for the scans!!

2 comments on “Obscurity of the Day: Klondike

  1. Hello, Allan—I think that when Mr. Winterbottom refers to the "new art", he's not really referring to any highfalutin' French art movement. I think his "new art" is a satire of pretentious art. His "new art" is a purposefully juvenile/hideous put-on.

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