Subjective Ramblings and Peripheral Thoughts from the Edges of a Comics Studies Project
This week, I will not be posting here, since I have a two-part post about the 19th century cartoonist Michael Angelo Woolf and his once-famous “waifs” coming up on Gotham: A Blog for Scholars of New York City History. Below is the first paragraph:
“The father of the modern comic picture — the man who woke the laughter of a generation […] — died at 1 o’clock yesterday morning,” the New York Times declared on March 5, 1899. The deceased was Michael Angelo Woolf, a now largely-forgotten cartoonist who in his own time, as the obituary’s epithets for him suggest, was both well-known and well-liked. Born in London in 1837, Woolf moved to America at a young age and first pursued an acting career in Philadelphia. At the close of the Civil War, he turned his efforts instead to art and went to France for instruction. After returning to America, and beginning in the magazine Wild Oats in the 1870s, Woolf would focus much of his career in cartooning on drawing his then-famous illustrations of “waifs,” a character type that was inspired by New York City street urchins. Returning to the life of the city’s poor time and time again, in a career that spanned some thirty-odd years, Woolf, a generally liberal and sometimes conservative cartoonist, opened up a world of which many of Harper’s Weekly, Judge, and LIFE’s middle class readers had little first-hand knowledge.