T.S. Allen’s kid cartoons were a staple of no less than three different syndicates in the late 1890s and 1900s. His urban street kids seem to have been inspired at least in part by the more celebrated works of British/Australian cartoonist Phil May, whose guttersnipe cartoons were world famous. Allen’s cartooning doesn’t really compare in quality to May’s, but his work does convey a gritty realism that really bring these street kids to life.
Although our Stripper’s Guide obscurity postings are normally about a single series, to cover Allen’s kid cartoons one at a time would keep us busy for over a week. Instead we’ll cover Allen’s entire kid oeuvre in one fell swoop. Allen’s first kid cartoon appeared in Hearst’s New York Evening Journal on October 2 1897, but his first real series, which unlike most of them featured a recurring character, was titled Adonis Jimmy — as you might guess he was a bully type. That series ran in the Evening Journal from August 31 to November 15 1898.
Allen continued contributing many kid cartoons to the Hearst papers, but the next named series didn’t come until March 11 1900. That was Them Kids, which established the pattern of multiple vignettes, like the samples above, with no recurring named characters. The series ran until December 29 1901.
The first series actually titled Just Kids began in the Evening Journal on February 13 1903. A mere two days later Allen can be found moonlighting from Hearst with a Sunday series titled Tads and Tykes, which ran in the New York World Sunday section just twice, on February 15 and 22 — apparently Hearst quickly put a stop to Allen’s appearances in the competing newspaper.
The first Just Kids series ran until June 3 1905, and then was replaced by a new title, When The World is Young. This was essentially more of the same but under a new title that bounced around between Hearst’s Evening Journal and morning American papers. This series ran from June 6 1905 to May 18 1906. Allen then reverted back to the Just Kids title on November 8 1906, continuing it in the Hearst papers until May 18 1907. Allen and Hearst then parted company after an association of over a decade.
After taking a bit of a breather, Allen switched over to the Pulitzer camp where he continued Just Kids starting September 26 1907. At Pulitzer’s World the series also went by a few other names, including Wisdom of the Young and Chimmie the Kid. Apparently Allen didn’t get along as well with his new company, and the World series came to an end on October 13 1908 after just one year.
Before the World had even finished publishing all of Allen’s cartoon backlog he found a new employer at the Cleveland-based NEA. This was a giant step down from his heydays in New York, and Allen’s tough talking street kids looked like fish out of water appearing in the smalltown papers serviced by NEA. This final Just Kids series began on August 14 1908, but avoided using Allen’s long-standing title at first, presumably to sidestep the wrath of Pulitzer. The Just Kids title was finally used regularly starting May 26 1909. The series continued with NEA until sometime in the second quarter of 1910. But that was the end of Allen’s kid cartoons, which had found an appreciative audience for over a dozen years, an impressive achievement during those days when the lifespan of the average cartoon series was measured in weeks and months, not years.
All the series discussed above, except Tads and Tykes, were weekday features that ran regularly but not daily.