Obscurity of the Day: Punch and Judy Up To Date

Due to racist language and stereotyping, Punch and Judy Up To Date may well be just fine staying forgotten, but that’s not how we roll here at Stripper’s Guide, so here it is.

Taking a cue from the long-standing British tradition of Punch and Judy puppet shows, Mark Fenderson claims to be updating them by focusing on Mr. Punch and a black character, Toby. Only problem with that thesis is that Punch and Judy shows had been occasionally including a black character, often named Jim Crow, for probably a hundred years or more.

Fenderson was a sloppy cartoonist who seemed to put exactly as much effort into his work as he could get away with. Some of his strips for the McClure Syndicate, where the Punch and Judy strip appeared, are downright painful to look at. Not so with this strip, which was well-drawn for what it is, and Fenderson was proud enough to sign it consistently, which he seldom bothered to do. The gags, on the other hand, are hardly worth the name, but for that maybe Mark can’t be blamed — after all, real Punch and Judy shows offer simple-minded violence as a primary source of humor.

Punch and Judy Up To Date had a short run, no shame that, from December 6 1903 to February 7 1904*. Thanks to Cole Johnson for the scans.

* Source: San Francisco Chronicle

One comment on “Obscurity of the Day: Punch and Judy Up To Date

  1. I think the second Punch and Judy Up To Date strip should be the one on top, because the story of Punch butting the cook naturally leads into Punch getting the services of a goat to butt Toby. The goat seems to be the ultimate "butt" of the joke.

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