Wednesday, February 02, 2011

The pages reproduced above are from the 1901 book "The Complete Tribune Primer" by Eugene Field with drawings by Frederick Opper. I picked it up from a used book dealer because of the Opper cartoons.

Opper is one of the true pioneers of newspaper comic strips. He is known for his "Happy Hooligan" strip as well as " And her Name was Maude" – about an independent donkey – and "Alphonse and Gaston" – the eternally polite Frenchmen.

I really like his cartoony style and the illustrations in this book are a joy.

I had never heard much about Field, here is a complete bio of him but he is from the school of journalism in the 19th century that allowed people to be writers of both hard news and fiction, not unlike Ambrose Bierce, one of my literary heroes.

It should be noted that Field and his brother were raised after the death of his mother in Amherst.

Some of his "primers" still work today, such as "The Bottle." (capitalization is the author's)

"This is a Bottle. What is in the Bottler? Very bad Whiskey. It has been Sent to the Local Editor. He did not Buy it. If he had Bought it the Whiskey would have been Poorer than it is. Little Children, you Must never Drink Bad Whiskey."

Ain't that the truth!

© 2011 by Gordon Michael Dobbs

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