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Comic Strip / The Yellow Kid

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The Yellow Kid was the name of a lead comic strip character that ran from 1895 to 1898 in Joseph Pulitzer's New York World, and later William Randolph Hearst's New York Journal. Created and drawn by Richard F. Outcault in the comic strip Hogan's Alley (and later under other names as well), it was one of the first Sunday supplement comic strips in an American newspaper, although its graphical layout had already been thoroughly established in political and other, purely-for-entertainment cartoons. The Yellow Kid is also famous for its connection to the coining of the term "yellow journalism".

Mickey Dugan, better known as The Yellow Kid, was a bald, snaggle-toothed boy who wore an oversized yellow nightshirt and hung around in a slum alley typical of certain areas of squalor that existed in late 19th-century New York City. Hogan's Alley was filled with equally odd characters, mostly other children. With a goofy grin, the Kid habitually spoke in a ragged, peculiar slang, which was printed on his shirt, a device meant to lampoon advertising billboards.

Many of his original adventures can be read here.

This Comic Strip contains examples of:

  • Ascended Extra: Originally a nameless background character who became a more fleshed out cast member before ultimately becoming the star of the strip.
  • False Reassurance: When Mickey says that he "won't hardly do a thing to 'em" while holding some kind of blunt instrument, there's a good chance he intends to whack someone with it.
  • Incredibly Lame Pun: The very final panel of a strip where he pawns off an alarm clock has him laboriously explain why "dough" is a euphemism for money as people need money, and "need" sounds a lot like "knead" which is what you do with dough. Which is that Mickey needs. The money, not actual dough.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: According to Outcault himself, Mickey "had a sweet character and a sunny disposition, and was generous to a fault. Malice, envy or selfishness were not traits of his, and he never lost his temper."
  • Prematurely Bald: The Yellow Kid is a bald young boy.
  • Progressively Prettier: Inverted. He gradually gets more cartoonishly hideous to distinguish him from the more regular-looking rascals of Hogan's Alley.
  • Puppy Love: The Yellow Kid is sweet on the rather normal and pretty Liz.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: During the years when ownership of the character was in dispute, Outcault changed the title of the series the Yellow Kid was part of from "Hogan's Alley" to "McFadden's Row of Flats".
  • Toilet Humor: During General Li Hongzhang's inexplicable diplomatic visit to Hogan's Alley, it's implied that Mickey intends to trick the man into drinking urine in the guise of yellow tea.
  • Troubling Unchildlike Behavior: Mickey smokes, drinks, gambles, fights, and cheats at cards among other mischief.
  • Would Hit a Girl: With a golf club, if he feels like it.
  • World Tour: During his original run of strips, the Yellow Kid and his many pals went on a hot air balloon journey around to world to such locations as England, Egypt, and an exploding Mt. Vesuvius.
  • You Fight Like a Cow: His "ain't so warm" insult.