Reprint of the 1903 ed. published by F. A. Stokes, New York, under title: Buster Brown and his resolutions.
From 1906 onward, R.F. Outcault's "Buster Brown" strip went to work earning a richly deserved reputation for self-righteousness, each Sunday crowning several panels of mischief with a sermonizing platitude. The artwork gradually went downhill as well as Outcault relenquished it to various ghosts.
But from 1902 through the end of 1905, Outcault and Buster raised the devil with society, and the final panel's aphorism often wasn't remorseful at all but full of regret that Buster's scheme hadn't been hatched with better foresight. This particular collection from Dover is a reprint of "Buster Brown and His Resolutions," which offers an excellent cross-section of Buster's wickedly fun forays from 1902 and 1903.
The chief drawback of this collection is that it offers no improvement on the "Resolutions" collection, which like practically all those published by Frederick Stokes, took a random handful of strips and published them in no order whatsoever; 1903 strips are followed by some from 1902, and then it's back to '03. In spite of this haphazard treatment, it's easy to see that Buster was no cutey-pie sissy in his early days, but nearly as homely as his Yellow Kid predecessor, just dressed in nicer clothes.
Animation fans may want to take note of reactions from Buster's adult victims. Buster's mother, drawn almost photorealistically, praises Buster for sitting so nicely in a chair. But when Buster gets up to reveal he's been sitting on a dozen eggs (to hatch them), her mouth drops open nearly a foot, anticipating similarly wild reactions from Tex Avery's characters in cartoons made over three decades later.
This book is a wonderful introduction to a character we hardly know (beyond the grimacing shoe trademark).
Buster Brown: Early Strips in Full Color
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