There is nothing in the history of newspaper comics that can compare to the art and coloring of the major New York City Sunday sections of the 1890s. As with many new technologies, especially in printing, in the early years they haven’t yet learned how to cheapen the process, speed it up, cut corners. Those early practitioners of color printing on high-speed presses were trying to perfect a very cumbersome technology, and each Sunday they pointed with pride at what they accomplished. Readers responded to the quality by buying papers in quantities never even dreamed before then.
I don’t know if these full-page panels of Slagg Diggins, Millionaire Miner are impressive to you, but my breath is taken away by the combination of J. Campbell Cory‘s intricately crosshatched art and the colorist’s masterful performance to bring the images to life. If the artwork isn’t enough of a treat, then the history-minded comic strip fan can also get a good chuckle out of this New York World series, which is a pretty obvious dig at W.R. Hearst’s papa, who was very much a real life version of Mr. Diggins. William Randolph probably had a fit over these obvious taunts. Too bad Cory didn’t take it one step further and highlight Mr. Diggins’ son to bring the insult even closer to home.
Slagg Diggins, Millionaire Miner ran on the cover of the Pulitzer newspapers from March 19 to April 30 1899.
Thanks to Cole Johnson for the scans, especially since he must not have done those obviously frail tearsheets any favors getting them onto the scanner.