For the past year Richmond SPCS student Kirsten McKinney has been working on a project for her Masters of Liberal Arts degree. Her humanities class “Sleuths to Cyborgs: American Pop Culture in 20th Century” led her to the work of comic artist, vaudevillian, early animator, and social commentor, Winsor McCay.
One of McCay’s comic strips, “A Pilgrim’s Progress” by Mister Bunion appeared in the New York Evening Telegram from 1905 until 1909. McCay’s character Mr. Bunion tries to rid himself of his valise filled with “Dull Care” which represents the burdens of the modern man. McKinney describes “Dull Care” in more detail on her site here.
McKinney’s work is truly remarkable in what it has added to the world of comic strip history. It appears that no one had digitized or had made available the entire run of the “A Pilgrim’s Progress” let alone listed all of the dates of when the strip appeared in the newspaper.
McKinney’s research led her to the New York State Library’s collections where she found microfilm of the Telegram for the years she suspected that “A Pilgrims Progress” had appeared.
McKinney requested the microfilm reels of the Telegram from Betty Tobias in the Interlibrary Loan Department at Boatwright Library. McKinney searched through the daily papers noting the publication dates of each strip and scanned the entire run of the comic.
Because some of the dialogue bubbles were difficult to decipher, McKinney transcribed the text as well as tagging the comic strip with metadata. Resulting in a wonderful resource to share with the world!
In her day job, McKinney works for the University of Richmond’s communication department and had worked with Chris Kemp of the Department of Discovery, Technology and Publishing on the public interface of the Richmond Daily Dispatch collection. Kemp had used the web publishing software omeka for a few projects in the past and suggested that McKinney use omeka for her project.
McKinney’s work is currently being used for research for a current summer class at UR, “the American Dream.”
A Pilgrim’s Progress by Mister Bunion from August 28, 1906: