Reading our favourite comic strip in the newspapers or magazines is something of a habit with most of us. But how often do we sit and think about their origins or the impact they have had on pop culture. It was on May 5, 1895, that the first colour cartoon The Yellow Kid, created by Richard F Outcault was published. On World Cartoonist’s Day today, let’s pay a homage to the creators of our favourite cartoon characters by celebrating their craft. After Hrs takes a look at some characters that have captured our imaginations and left an indelible mark on our lives…
With his large ears, red shorts and yellow shoes, Mickey Mouse is easily the most recognised mouse in the world. Created by Walt Disney and animator Ub Iwerks at Walt Disney Studios in 1928, the lovable mouse first appeared in a test screening of the cartoon short Plane Crazy (1928), and later was seen in the short film Steamboat Willie. It was only after appearing in a number of highly successful animated shorts, that Mickey finally made his way to his own comic strip in 1930. On Mickey’s 50th anniversary in 1978, he became the first cartoon character to have a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. One of the earliest Mickey Mouse merchandise to go on sale was a wristwatch in 1933. Originally retailed at $3.75, the vintage watch can now be found online at prices ranging from 10 to 300 times their original value! Go, Mickey!
Tintin, with his little tuft of hair, bewildered expression and honesty that shines through, is the hero of The Adventures of Tintin, a fictional character created by Belgian cartoonist Hergè in 1929 and introduced in Le Le Petit Vingtième, a weekly youth supplement. Aided by his faithful dog Snowy, Professor Calculus, Captain Haddock and detectives Thomson and Thompson, Tintin went on to entertain readers in over 70 languages and has sold more than 200 million copies. Take a walk across Brussels, Belgium, and you will find a number of murals and statues of the adventurer at various places, including the South Station in Brussels that has a reproduction of a panel from Tintin in America, and the Uccle Cultural Centre in Belgium that has a life size-statue of Tintin and Snowy.
Many of us find it easy to relate to Charlie Brown, the character from Peanuts, an American comic strip written and illustrated by Charles M Schulz that ran from October 2, 1950, to February 13, 2000, continuing in reruns afterwards. Charlie lacks confidence and is quite average, but tries his best to survive. It has been translated in over 21 languages, with TV and stage shows, and even an animated film. The Apollo 10 Lunar module was nicknamed Snoopy, after Charlie’s dog, and the command module itself, Charlie Brown. At the Kennedy Space Center, you can see the original picture drawn by Charles Schulz of Charlie in a space suit that was hidden aboard the craft for the astronauts to find once they were in orbit.
Archie Andrews, who is torn between Betty and Veronica, and has the burger-loving Jughead for his best friend, has dominated our childhood reading hours. The initial Archie characters first appeared in Pep Comics #22 (1941) and were created by publisher John L Goldwater and artist Bob Montana in collaboration with writer Vic Bloom. The strip has been translated into multiple languages and has sold billions of copies worldwide, spawning animation, television and film versions. In 2010, Archie Comics introduced its first gay character, Kevin Keller, in Veronica 202.
Asterix and his loyal friend Obelix fight the Romans to protect their village in 50 BC. The Adventures of Asterix is a series of French comics that first appeared in the magazine Pilote in 1959. Originally written by René Goscinny and illustrated by Albert Uderzo, it was taken over by Uderzo after Goscinny’s death. The comics became so popular that the first French satellite launched in 1965 was named Asterix 1. The cartoon characters have lent themselves to crisps, appeared on the cover of Time in 1991 and were even the official mascots of the 2017 Ice Hockey World Championships hosted by France and Germany.