Monday, September 15, 2008

My Ancestor the Comic

Last winter I made contact with an historian in Louisiana who is the premier biographer, expert, and art collector of R. F. Outcault memorabilia and facts. I had to do some digging to find this guy, but he was more than willing to talk to me for quite a while about my ancestor, who happens to be the man who created the first "comic strip", a one panel comic titled "The Yellow Kid", in the 1920s.

Original Yellow Kid memorabilia sells for big bucks now, but I've tried my best to begin collecting some of this stuff. R.F. Outcault also created the most popular comic strip of his time, Buster Brown, and he made a fortune.

Thinking of R. F. in recent months dredged up some old material I had written many years ago, an entire book of doodles and poems, ala Shel Silverstein, that I had forgotten about. But I found the manuscript the other day in one of my giant piles of kindling in my writing closet. I'd originally written the book for Chelsey, when she was three or four years old, but I don't think I ever read any of the book to her, and when she came of age to read on her own, she just wasn't interested in reading old dad's drivel.

So, there it sits in my closet, another 150 page book gathering dust, one among dozens of others, ready to be burned by my ancestors. Lord only knows what kind of history I'm writing now.

Perhaps I'll be known as that other Outcault guy who couldn't spell his last name properly and who wrote more bad and unpublishable books than anyone in history.

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