MR. PEEWEE IS VERY IMPORTANT (to the history of comic strips)


Here we have a bona fide historical event for you! By most accounts, The Importance of Mr. Peewee is reckoned to be the first daily comic strip in history, and I’ve gotta say that I haven’t come across anything to dispute the claim in my combing of newspaper archives. The strip itself is probably not going to knock your socks off; it’s efficiently rendered, and the gags are OK, but the central premise is a tad obtuse to modern eyes.

Mr. Peewee is a diminutive fellow with outsized pretensions, making wild boasts about his titular importance. Meanwhile, sensational newspaper headlines act as a Greek Chorus, providing commentary on Peewee’s pretense and comeuppance. These headlines are really the stars of the strip; they’re very funny in a Mad Magazine sort of way, with an attention-grabbing lead which is shown to be overblown by the subhead, which is often inserted into the middle of the headline like so: BOILERMAKER EATS (supper with) HIS MOTHER! It’s a fun and clever indictment of the “Yellow Journalism” era of newspaper sensationalism, and it’s worth reading the strips just for the headlines.

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