Early Comic Newspaper Strips—
An Immigrant History from New York

The modern comic developed at the close of the nineteenth century in New York. Immigrants from all over the globe were pouring into the city, above all Irish, Germans, Italians and East European Jews. For these new arrivals, comics—which at the time comprised only 3 to 5 frames—were an entertaining way to learn about American culture.
Since 1893 such comic strips had been published in color in newspapers’ Sunday supplements; as of 1912, they appeared on weekdays too, in black and white. Newspaper giants Joseph Pulitzer and William R. Hearst competed to attract the best illustrators, creating a lucrative market. Numerous immigrants—including Jewish artists such as Milt Gross and Harry Hershfield—drew comics for newspapers and played a key part in developing the medium. Some early comic figures have remained a vital part of America’s visual stockpile to this day.

Abie the Agent
“Abie the Agent”
Gimpl Beinisch
“Gimpl Beinisch”
Krazy Kat
“Krazy Kat”