Thursday, July 09, 2009

Old Mother Hubbard and Her Wonderful Dog

Here's another proto-comic from the presses of James Catnach. Again, this was reproduced by Charles Hindley in his biography, The Life and Times of James Catnach from the original chapbook published by Catnach in around 1820. This quite possibly predates the Life of London broadsheet we looked at on Monday (scroll down if you missed it). It has all the hallmarks of a "graphic novel"—remember that for many years, most comic strips in the UK were illustrations sans word balloons, with the action described underneath in verse or text. There is little substantial difference between the chapbook below and the nursery comics of the 1950s.

The Catnach version of the story of Old Mother Hubbard was not the first to be published in the UK. An earlier version, in very much the same style, was published in 1805, and although it is thought the story dates back even further, it was put into its popular form at that time by Sarah Catherine Martin, who provided illustrations for the colour edition published that year by John Harris of London as The Comic Adventures of Old Mother Hubbard and Her Dog. Images of the first edition can be found here. More information on the origins of the verses here.

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