Obscurity of the Day: Hari Kari the Jap

In the early years of comic strips, racial and national stereotypes were the bread-and-butter of many, many features. The Japanese came in for a comparatively small share of that, and here’s a really obscure example, Hari Kari the Jap.

The strip about a household servant who doubled as a spy for the Japanese government was by H.C. Greening. Greening had just parted ways with his longstanding client, the McClure Syndicate, and spent a short time producing this strip for the Boston Traveler, which syndicated with very little success as the State Publishing Company. Hari Kari the Jap ran there as a weekday strip from November 4 1908 to January 14 1909. Greening kept shopping his wares around New York during this period, and soon found a new receptive client at the New York Herald, after which he dropped the Traveler like a man very relieved.

All samples above are from the collection of Cole Johnson.

4 comments on “Obscurity of the Day: Hari Kari the Jap

  1. In the last strip, the character is referring to an alliance between Japan and England that was entered into in 1902, with revisions in 1905 and 1911. It lapsed ca. 1923.

  2. Any alliance between England and Japan, or as we Americans often poetically put it, "With the Mikado", would have been dissolved after the Washington Naval conference of 1921 or the one in London in 1930.

    Would the Boston Traveller weekday strips usually be seen under the trademark "Boston Traveller" or "Traveller company"? These examples came from the St. Louis Star-Chronicle, whose corporate name was "State Publishing Company", and I thought they for some reason "recopyrighted" them under their name.

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